The Style Muses Who Pioneered SS19's Power Headband

Prada spring/summer 2019


2019 has (so far) seen women rallying against NASA‘s decision to cancel the first all-female space walk because of a lack of proper fitting spacesuits, protesting the invasion of our digital privacy by fertility-monitoring apps that sell information on menstrual health, and continuing to battle the gender pay gap. It may come as something of a surprise, then, that spring’s biggest accessory trend champions a quintessentially girlish classic: the headband. The new, upscale iterations of the playground staple – as seen on Anok Yai and Alexa Chung – however, are making a powerful impact this season, as well as signalling a shift to dressing from the head down (rather than the feet up).

The headband’s poignant return to the grown woman’s style repertoire is down to Mrs Prada, rather than storybook nostalgia. The house’s SS19 show went against the grain of the season. Where other designers veered towards crisp, genderless suiting, military references or homespun crochet, Prada celebrated babydoll dresses and plunging necklines, complete with something rarely seen on modern luxury catwalks: cleavage. To top it all off, the Prada woman’s summer uniform included a headband. And not just any headband, but a surreally large headband fashioned from pristine silk-satin.

The designer herself, who turns 70 in May this year, is the embodiment of the cool-headed intellectualism that’s been Prada’s USP since the launch of its ready-to-wear line in 1989. “Being a feminist in the 1970s, you can imagine how inappropriate it was talking about fashion. But I loved it so much that I did it,” Miuccia Prada told British Vogue in 2018. “I try to be political as much as I can through my work, but not in an obvious way because I think that using fashion for politics, it has to be subtle.”

Subtlety – for anyone who has slipped on one of the new season’s oversized headbands – may not be the first word that springs to mind (some are heavy and potentially headache-inducing), but there is a subversive message beneath the supposedly saccharine exterior.

These headbands have a bold, regal air – world’s away from their childhood counterparts. They add extra inches in height without heels, meaning you stand taller, and work well with no-nonsense tailoring or lazy-day knitwear. They also paper the cracks between hair washes, extending an indulgent blow dry a few days longer. The new headbands recall Alicia Silverstone’s Cher in the 1995 classic Clueless (a less overt feminist icon, perhaps, but one who sprung from Jane Austen’s Emma), and the emancipated stars of ’60s cinema, Catherine Deneuve and Anna Karina. Above all, an oversized headband is an unapologetic reminder of femininity at eye-level, in an era when you can, of course, be a feminist and talk about fashion, as Mrs Prada politely reminds us.

Here’s Vogue’s round-up of the headband muses influencing spring’s biggest trend.


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