Perhaps it’s the strain of the weakening economy, or the vulnerability felt as a result of the endless war in Iraq, or the myriad of male-dominated super-hero flicks where women once again play the vulnerable vixen.

Or maybe it’s an aesthetic backlash against the uber feminine dresses, babydolls, ruffles, brights and florals we’ve seen in the past few seasons.
Whatever the motivation, the dominatrix is creeping back into the fashion lexicon for Fall, and whip or no whip, the black patent leather, cinched in waists, and stiletto heels for miles make her an easily recognizable archetype.
The two usual suspects, Monsieurs Dolce and Gabana may have taken a turn into ladylike this season, but other designers were on-hand to heed the call of the darker side of sexed up fashion. Evident from the runway to the real way, women are embracing bondage dresses sometimes called  bandage dresses, from looks by Herve Leger by Max Azria to Charlize Theron in Narciso Rodiguez.
In a pallet of black, black and more black, dresses are fitted with lingerie details at Balmain…

In the midst of McQueen’s royal parade, he infused some serious leather and hardware…


Lacroix sent down a dress with a strategically placed fabric and veritable choker detail…

A gothic/S&M vibe manifests itself more as inspiration, and is far less literal than in seasons past; this small revival speaks more to recapturing female power than any hints at submissiveness.  With Lolita tucked away for months to come, get ready to stock up on some leather and lace (subdued at Prada, and don’t skimp on the Manolos for Thakoon).

Kerry’s blog is at

Photos courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.