An era-defining piece of clothing can tell us about the times we are living in. The miniskirt became a metaphor for the women’s lib movement in the 60s, the slip dress synonymous with subversive sexuality in the 90s, and Roland Mouret’s Galaxy dress became an identifier of mid-noughties celebrity culture. In 2016, the Azaelea dress is acquiring the mantle of the dress for the selfie generation.
If that seems like a grand claim, what is not in doubt is that it is shaping up to be the dress of the summer. As a brightly coloured, reasonably priced, catwalk-standard lace dress that suits a range of body types and ages, the Azaelea is the Holy Grail of summer dresses – something that is reflected in its popularity. “We’ve seen incredible sales,” says Suzanne Pendlebury, buying manager at MatchesFashion.com. “We’ve reordered this style across the seasons.”
Made by London-based label Self Portrait, the dress has an instant accessibility. The style – a sharply cut lace embroidered dress which falls beneath the knee – has an instantly identifiable classicism, while the silhouette references the 1950s hourglass shape, with the in-bloom skirt and scooped-in waist.
At the same time, it has a dynamism absent from the rest of the high street. Hope Lawrie, a freelance stylist who has worked with TV presenter Caroline Flack, says: “The laser-cut lace has an edge that the romantic froufrou frills seen elsewhere this summer lack.”