At Altuzarra, Dressing Up Doesn’t Mean Showing Off

Sunday night’s dispatch


We are terrified of dressing up. Dressing up means that we tried, and if we try then we’re vulnerable to failure. We are terrified of bragging — about our careers, about our financial successes, about our physical appearances — and dressing up feels an awful lot like showing off. Ask a room full of women in fashion which scenario they’d prefer: to be underdressed or over. I guarantee that the majority would rather show up to a gala in jeans than the sartorial reverse.

The casual clothes we’ve long chosen for practicality’s sake have become defense mechanisms rather than peaceful weapons against obstacles. There is comfort — jeans and a tee, athletic leggings, sneakers — and there is a place for it. There is also a time for bravado, and that time is now. Altuzarra’s Fall 2017 showing was a collection of clothes that carry weight with as much strength as the wearer. It was beautiful, because of course it was, and it was ladylike, whatever that means anymore. But don’t let a quilted riding jacket or pearl-covered headband fool you into antiquated assumptions; this is not some Upper East Side redux. (See those knee-high combat boots? They’ll keep us grounded.) It’s the projected blare of a battle horn.

The designer cited Northern European Renaissance paintings as an influence for this season’s collection. “It was an interesting time,” he said. “[I]t was when artists started…rendering their subjects as they looked, with all their flaws and all of their imperfections.” In 2017, women are not only accepting their flaws as powerfully human, but are bearing their flaw-filled souls on public platforms. We are sharing stretch marks, scars and true emotions. There’s little that isn’t being said or prodded; women are refusing to be quiet or demure. We do not need a shield to hide us. We need armor.

Altuzarra’s Fall woman barges into rooms full-fancy, without apology, in a great big dramatic coat over shiny velvet. She stomps hard and leaves her lug-soled footprint on the floor. She is a woman in motion; chin up, chest out. Forward, upward, onward. Dressed.

Feature photo via Getty Images; Runway photos via Vogue Runway.


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  • Andrea

    The coats! And the gorgeous floral beading / embroidering / whatever is perfection.

  • ReadER451

    Amelia, this review, particularly the first paragraph, made me feel so warm inside. It is like you know exactly who I am. I then almost started crying because I should not feel guitly for being happy with career, my income and wearing the nice clothes that I work so hard to buy.

    Altuzarra’s presentation was beautiful and moving. Look 13 is exactly what I need.

    • Amelia Diamond


  • Lanatria Brackett Ellis

    Maybe it’s because I was southern-raised , Caribbean, or raised with a prideful mother but I never feel bad for dressing up.It doesn’t bother me what people think of my clothes as long as I know I look good in them.I’ve worn a fur in the grocery store with no told myself that 2017 is the year of EXTRA *sashays away throwing glitter in the air

    • Suzan

      Yes! Clothing as a celebration of who you are and not where you are. Go for the EXTRA, love that attitude!

  • Suzan

    I can’t believe I’m longing for Autumn after seeing these looks, while I’ve been in “is it already Spring?!” mode for weeks!
    Love this presentation – especially how they made it quite wearable, which is not something you’d expect from Renaissance inspired wear. The dresses in look 16 & 17 really hit the sweet spot for me. The suit and the boots in 9 really had me staring too! I kept the velvet trend out of my wardrobe, since it felt a bit too fleeting for me maybe (even though I love the look of it), but seeing this really makes me reconsider it.

    Dig your words too, Amelia!