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Epaulettes | More than meet the eyes

Everything in the fashion game is fair play; and there is nothing designers won’t reference, or flat-out appropriate. We know that womenswear takes many cues from menswear details, but did you pay attention to the latest craze for epaulettes (literally “small shoulders” in French)?

Louis XIV wearing shoulder ribbons, an early type of epaulette, painted after 1670

Louis XIV wearing shoulder ribbons, an early type of epaulette, painted after 1670

Military epaulette

Military epaulette

Officer of the French Republican Guard with epaulettes

Officer of the French Republican Guard with epaulettes

Fendi - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Fendi - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Well, the cat’s out of the bag, and designers are applying epaulettes to just about everything from outerwear, which is the expected garment type, to daywear and anything ranging from dresses to little jackets.

Miniature portrait painting of General Count Ivan Ivanovich Dibich-Zabalkanskii (1785-1830) by Iwan Winberg

Miniature portrait painting of General Count Ivan Ivanovich Dibich-Zabalkanskii (1785-1830) by Iwan Winberg

Tsumori Chisato - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Tsumori Chisato - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Ang - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Ang - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Don’t think that everything is, as it seems. Some designers are referencing the epaulette look via cropped boleros and shrugs. At face value the look is pure epaulette style, but when viewed from the side or back profile, the bolero/shrug divulges the ruse.

Roccobarocco - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Roccobarocco - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Leonard - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Leonard - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Krizia - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Krizia - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

The epaulette may come from a military ancestry, an ode to the Napoleonic era and 19th century romanticism. As they say, “Who doesn’t love a man in uniform?” So, why not love the woman too? If you look a little further into the trend, you’ll be surprised to find out some rather unusual applications (Russian jailbirds are totally into the look too?).

A portrait miniature of an Officer, by Sir William Charles Ross (c.1825)

A portrait miniature of an Officer, by Sir William Charles Ross (c.1825)

Shiatzy Chen - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Shiatzy Chen - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Russian criminal with tattoos - Epaulette tattoos (on the shoulders) display the criminal’s rank in a system that mirrors that of the army (major, colonel, general etc)

Russian criminal with tattoos - Epaulette tattoos (on the shoulders) display the criminal’s rank in a system that mirrors that of the army (major, colonel, general, etc.)

Andrew Gn - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

The most pronounced epaulette effect from the most recent collections comes with longer hair furs which play as much with volume, as they do with the theatrics of the look. The vibe ranges greatly from rock star cool, to football player brawn. At the end of the day, you could see it as an outward shoulder-pad and not as a military insignia.

Michael Jackson sporting one of his military styles with epaulettes

Michael Jackson sporting one of his military styles with epaulettes

Paco Rabanne - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Brandon Flower, frontman of the KILLERS, sporting his epaulette looks

Leonard - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Tim Tebow carrying his Bronco gear off the field

Pedro Lourenço - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Junko Shimada - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

Douglas CP Series 56 All-Purpose Football Shoulder Pads

Philipp Plein - Fall-Winter 2012-2013

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