It all started with a serial killer. A fictional one, mind you. Killing Eve‘s Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, is as enamored of luxury goods as she is swift to murder; from fancy throws to top-shelf champagne, her creature comforts are more mammoth than mini. Even in a show full of ingenious and high-stakes kills, no scene was as striking as one in which Villanelle sits on a blue couch clad in a pink froth of a dress, having her state of mind assessed by her shadowy employers. The contrast between the little-girl frippery and her wicked instincts confirmed Villanelle as one of the most unusual female criminals on the small screen.
The show is amazing—you should watch it, if you haven’t already. The dress, too, is wonderful. When ELLE.com’s digital director, Leah Chernikoff, got around to inhaling the BBC America series one evening, she Slacked me. “The Villanelle pink dress is so good,” she wrote. “I think it’s Molly Goddard.” Leah’s hunch was correct. The confection was indeed a creation by the English tulle queen, and it sparked a revolution—in my head, at least. From that point on, all I wanted to wear was voluminous dresses that pose girlish femininity but actually take up all the space girls aren’t supposed to occupy: Little Bo Peep outta La La Land, if you will.
From there, it was all a winding road…to the fields. At New York Fashion Week, the omnipresent Batsheva Hay’s prairie dresses provided another iteration of the slanted prettiness I craved. All ditzy florals, nostalgic references, and ankle-skimming hems, Hay’s dresses are a sleeker take on the shepherdess, but still snatch your attention with their throwback charm.
Now it’s all I can see: babydoll silhouettes, gauzy inflorescences, ruffles from neck to hem, bows the size of a lamb, florals up the wazoo. Designers like Goddard, Cecilie Bahnsen, and Horror Vacui (literally, “a fear or dislike of leaving empty spaces”)—not to mention the stalwart of delicate mass, Simone Rocha—are leaning in to spilling out. Fashion commentators have observed that the popularity of Hay’s dreamboat dresses, which evolved into their current stable from a vintage Laura Ashley design Hay wanted to reproduce, might be a natural reaction to the sleek minimalism of athleisure or more revealing Insta-friendly aesthetics.
Whatever it is, I don’t really care—get me one of these frocks, quick. But: Still on the fence about bonnets.