Peplums Return to the Runway

While peplum details have made subtle appearances in luxury garments over the past few seasons, this spring the waist-accentuating accessories are all over runway collections. Peplums—ruffles or overskirts attached to the waist—have been reinterpreted in new ways in a multitude of fabrics and textures, giving us fresh silhouettes to experiment with for spring, not to mention a strong focus on the waist.

Yves Saint Laurent paired chic cigarette pants with a jacket featuring a peplum in bright pink. Givenchy worked peplums onto tops and jackets to create multi-layered looks in sheer chiffon, leather, and sequined material. Vera Wang had peplums in block colors and prints on everything from shorts to long flowing dresses; and Céline updated and transformed the classic peplum into a low-slung wide belt, creating a streamlined, innovative version of dimensional accessory.

While these new peplums have a modern feel, the peplum itself has a long history in fashion. For example, it was an integral part of Christian Dior’s celebrated “New Look” collection of 1947, which was defined by an exaggerated hourglass figure. In order to achieve this silhouette, Dior added peplums to the back of all his suit tops, which created a dramatically narrow waist and wider hips to contrast.

Peplums were common in couture during the 1950s and 1960s, the decades from which several current collections, such as Céline, drew inspiration this season. Miuccia Prada has also reinterpreted the peplum in both her Miu Miu and Prada collections over the years. In her fall/winter collection for 2008, her nylon and lace peplums lent a surreal, ladylike element to fragmented, transparent lace looks. And just last season Miuccia sent wide, bow-embellished peplums down the runway for her Miu Miu collection.

This season’s peplums lend a sculptural, couture-influenced element to the collections they appear in. From the new proportions at Celine to the fluid layers at Givenchy, peplums stand out as the most modern, daring new shape on the runway. Which one will you choose for your spring wardrobe?