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The Supremacy of Trousers

- Bronwyn Cosgrave

Every so often during awards season, a gutsy actress graces an important ceremony in trousers, and emerges as the best dressed beauty on the red carpet. Julie Christie led the way. Accepting the best actress Academy Award in 1966, the legendary blonde flaunted a gold lamé jumpsuit. Her artist boyfriend had apparently made it. And though, initially, Christie’s outfit proved controversial - placing her on the ‘Worst Dressed List’ - her pioneering style inspired a younger, cooler Hollywood. Over a decade since her big moment, smart actresses such as Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway, have stepped up to the Oscar podium sharply trouser-clad.

Julie Christie Oscars
Julie Christie glittering like her Oscar in a golden jumpsuit. Source: IMDB

Recently comedian Amy Poehler arrived and departed from the 70th Golden Globes, which she co-hosted with Tina Fey, in a sleek black Stella McCartney evening suit. It was a smart move. Poehler may be famous for wise-cracking on American television sitcoms, but until she cut a dash at the Globes in the slimline McCartney suit and shimmering, diamanté-embellished Charlotte Olympia sandals, she has had no style profile. She made a big impact not only because her ensemble was unusual, she was the only woman sporting pants in a sea of gowns, but also the radiant smile she flashed that night displayed she was completely at ease.

Amy Poehler at the Golden Globes 2013
Poehler picked up an unofficial fashion award for her smart and sophisticated Stella McCartney suit at the Golden Globes

The comfort factor of an evening trouser suit seems to be the major reason why so many dynamic female designers have lately proposed them. The mink slippers accompanying the slouchy trousers dominating Céline’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection, for example, made this perfectly clear. At Céline, rigorous masculine tailoring has been interpreted in soft, filmy luxuriant textiles for every collection Phoebe Philo has produced, since her appointment as the brand’s creative director in 2008. More than any of her colleagues, she has championed smart trousers by first making them the signature of the sleek, put-together ‘Céline woman,’ whom she typifies. Consequently, on the rare occasion when Philo steps out into the spotlight, she’s in a tuxedo or a jumpsuit.

Celine Spring Summer 2013
Celine's silken trousers and soft slippers at Spring Summer 2013

Meanwhile, McCartney, a mother of four who is always on the move promoting her brand, glides like a swan through a slew of international events in the pyjama-style suits she recently introduced to her collection.

Stella McCartney at the British Fashion Awards 2012
McCartney's personal use of trousers has always been bold, including this now iconic jumpsuit, worn to the BFAs

Miuccia Prada says that she has “always loved pyjamas." Flaunting those silk and brocade creations from her collections to important 2012 galas - including the 69th Venice Film Festival, and the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Ball - Mrs. Prada demonstrated how sumptuous jewels can elevate a casual trouser two-piece into utter elegance.

Rooney Mara at Stockholm premiere of The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo
Rooney Mara shows how happy she is in a Roksanda Ilincic jumpsuit on the red carpet of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo premiere in Stockholm

Statuesque Roksanda Ilincic, a former model, has long advocated trouser ensembles as the epitome of red carpet glamour, and always presents them in unexpected combinations. Skinny-fit, legging-style slacks dominate her 2013 Resort collection, for instance. Found beneath an array of tunics - including ruffled minis and knee-length sleeveless sheaths - Ilincic’s leggings elongate the silhouette she has proposed in a figure-flattering way. The silk bellbottoms from her spring/summer collection are as lust inducing as her cocktail dresses. “Sometimes a dress ticks all of the boxes,” admits Ilincic. “But I love trousers because they allow you the freedom to move and it is so refreshing when you see them on a red carpet.”

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