Here’s a big industry secret for you: fashion designers are total mathletes. They must be, judging by the amount of geometry in fashion. Think about it: lines, triangles, squares and circles are needed for much of your wardrobe. Breton stripes, circle skirts, string bikinis and boxy tops … just some of the things that might have a designer reaching for the set square and compass.
With geometry being the secret skill at the back end of fashion, there are trends in shapes – as in Playschool, sometimes we go through the square window, sometimes through the triangle. Triangles have been the favoured shape for a while – on everything from T-shirts at high street stores, riffing on the classic Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon refracting triangle to Jil Sander’s pyramid bags. Alt-J even sang about triangles as their favourite shape on Tessellate. But, 2012 when that song came out, may have been peak triangle. Geometry news just in: circles are the new triangles. Get ready to go through the round window.
We know this from a few key things. See the cover of May Vogue , where Emilia Clarke wears a cut-out dress by Christian Dior. If, a few seasons ago, it might have involved a triangular hole underneath the bust, this cutout involved a circle. Like a very expensive version of the classic Pretty Woman leotard top, it featured a ring in the middle, surrounded by circular flowers. The circle also appeared on the catwalk – in big buttons at Marc Jacobs, and in the set at Roksanda Ilincic, where models walked through a series of white circular structures. Elsewhere, Céline had circular bags, and a round gold hairgrip that was swiftly homaged by high-street shops after a bit of that circular buzz.
What does it all mean? Triangles are spiky, angular and, as any good mathlete knows, come in three variations. Circles are gentler, curved and, unless you count ovals, are pretty much a a one-shape-only deal. We could speculate that the move to circles is towards a more feminine, round aesthetic, softer and more natural. But that may be overanalysing this latest shift in the world of geometry and fashion. Best to just buy something circular and start dropping the words “circumference”, “diameter” and “radius” into the conversation. You’ll be very fashionable indeed.