Looking for a quick hit of Parisian chic? French bourgeois is making its mark on the catwalks — and on Howth Cliff, during the royal visit to Ireland, writes Meadhbh McGrath
At Paris Fashion Week last week, designers cemented the return of the French bourgeois look. It has slowly reemerged over the past couple of seasons: the tall leather boots, the culottes, the boxy bags, the neat waist belts, the brooches and, of course, the pussybow blouse. The shape never really disappears for long, but this was the most notable appearance outside of the Trump family in years. And in contrast to the flash and brash of Melania and Ivanka, the Parisians espoused a far more refined, sophisticated interpretation.
Celine's creative director Hedi Slimane has been leading the charge, delving into the fashion houses' archives and drawing on the bourgeois dress codes of the 1970s. For next season, that means serving up the classics: horsebit hardware, ruffle-yoke dresses, more culottes, and the pussybow blouse, rendered in muted shades of cream, rust, navy and black. Worn under a blazer with culottes, a suede skirt or super-skinny velvet trousers, the effect was insouciant yet polished, and very grown-up.
The demure look was on show at Saint Laurent, too - but only from the waist up. Models were dressed in pussybow blouses with beautifully tailored blazers or feather chubbies, on top of seriously skintight latex leggings, a slick riff on bourgeois style.
Elie Saab also welcomed the return of the pussybow, with an oversized take splashed across a series of black, white and red outfits. It was feminine and very romantic, with bows peeking out from beneath lush velvet suiting, tweed coats and a luxurious trench.
It served as confirmation that designers are sticking with the pussybow for 2020. Celine and Saint Laurent championed the blouse for spring, too: the former with boho paisley printed tops tucked into culottes; the latter with sheer blouses under black shorts suits, another sexy spin on the French staple. Plus it's the quickest way to inject some effortless Parisian chic into your wardrobe, without having to splurge on a whole new outfit.
Whether you prefer a sleek, prim little knot or a giant, ostentatious bow bouncing under your chin, there are bountiful options to choose from. Kate Middleton is a great fan of the pussybow, and she tends to favour a print, from rustic checks such as the Barbour number she wore on her walk at Howth Cliff last wee to subtle polka dots to '70s-style chevron stripes. The Tabitha Webb blouse was surprisingly vibrant for the usually modest Kate, and all she needed to let it shine was a pair of wide-leg trousers and pumps, ensuring the loud, busy print was business-appropriate.
Jodie Comer meanwhile, managed to make a standard black trousers-and-blouse formula fantastically eye-catching by choosing a top that really packs a punch, thanks to its vivid hue, preponderance of ruffles and the pussybow. With a blouse like that, designed by Prabal Gurung, the styling becomes a breeze, though it helps that she had some killer heels in precisely the shade to match.
If you fancy something a little quieter but still pretty, take your cue from Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who looks like she just stepped out of a rom-com in a gorgeous mix of polka-dot blouse, pink pinafore and camel coat. A pussybow blouse makes a clever layering piece underneath low-cut dresses, and offers a fresh alternative if you've been relying on polo necks all winter.
The pussybow blouse is elegant yet easy to wear, and wherever you get yours from, it almost always looks expensive, lending that bourgeois feel to even your everyday jeans and trainers.