Fashion / Style

14 fashion brands that capture The Year of the Girl’s coquette spirit

Back in early 2022, when TikTok ordained coquette fashion as officially "in," I admit I was a sceptic. Mostly because all the references appeared to come from a costume shop over the runway or real people on the street. But as the style matured into something more definitive – encompassing bows, corsets, balletcore, pleated skirts and pink – it appeared those early forecasters were right.

Now, as we reflect on 2023, with its hot girl walks and Barbie-mania and ribbons on quite literally everything, we see a broader cultural phenomenon taking shape: The Year of The Girl. A period where, as Isabelle Truman writes for the RUSSH Forbidden Issuewomen reclaimed "the girlish aesthetics we shed during early adulthood in a bid to be taken seriously".

Could it appear in a Sofia Coppola film or does it look like it's assembled by a flock of Disney birds? If you answered yes, that's how you know it's coquette. And while many have complained of fatigue setting in when it comes to the tendency for fashion to stick bows on everything, it looks like the coquette trend is only gaining speed.

To those for whom the urge to lean into their girlhood fantasies is yet to pass, we're bringing you a list of fashion brands to shop. Because if 2023 was The Year of The Girl, then no one committed to the bit like these brands.

 

Simone Rocha

 

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Romance and femininity are the pillars on which London-based Irish designer Simone Rocha has built her eponymous brand. Silhouettes are voluminous, gauzy and decorative, with a predilection toward the colour black. Lately, they've heavily featured bows. While Sandy Liang is the designer of choice in Downtown Manhattan, Simone Rocha holds court across the Atlantic.

 

Sandy Liang

 

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A stapled in the diet of any self-respecting coquette fiend, Sandy Liang first appeared on our radar thanks to her range of fleeces. In recent year, her designs have emerged from a place of nostalgia, whether the focus is on her childhood or Chinese roots. As such Sandy Liang's satin mary janes, pleated skorts, tiered skirts, and ultra-feminine hair accessories have served as the coquette reference point.

 

Super Yaya

 

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The heart stops when it sees Lebanese artist Rym Beydoun's designs. Her project Super Yaya is vibrant and punchy, using gloriously tactile fabrics to celebrate West African culture and the founder’s Lebanese and Ivory Coast background. Each piece is crafted in the label's Beirut atelier, fusing texture, bright pops of colour, and nostalgic silhouettes into styles that are eye-catching and wholly original.

 

ALL-IN

 

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There's an element of handicraft and DIY to the coquette aesthetic; ribbons and diamontes repurposed to inject energy into our existing garments. It's this spirit, of repurposing and pastiche, that sits at the core of ALL-IN, a brand that first began as a magazine. Norwegian designer Bror August uses found fabrics and transforms them into unusual, adventurous styles that feel like an elevated version of a child playing dress ups.

 

Chopova Lowena

 

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Pleated skirts make up the bulk of the coquette aesthetic. Somehow, cult London-based Bulgarian brand Chopova Lowena has managed to make them feel fresh. Part of this is the Bulgarian folklore that underpins the brand's designs, which are then hardened with a punk twist. The marriage of homely prints and pleats with eyelets and silver hardware brings necessary grit to the coquette look.

 

Kiko Kostadinov

 

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Under Kiko Kostadinov, twin sisters Laura and Deanna Fanning tap the desire of every twenty and thirty-something looking to revisit girlhood. Incorporating metallics into a colour palette where lilac, bubblegum, leafy green and turquoise dominate, the designers recreate the fancies of our heart's earliest desires. With bubble skirts and viral ribbon boots, the Bulgarian label is fundamental to the coquette look.

 

J.Kim

 

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Jenia Kim creates an original visual dialogue inspired by her cultural heritage from both Uzbekistan and Korea. In lusty, forbidden tones, Kim's designs revolve around angular cut outs, decorative trims, and knotted ties. For the more sombre coquette among us.

 

all is a gentle spring

Isabelle Hellyer of all is a gentle spring made it her mission to create corsets that appeared closer to couture than costume. Employing historical and forgotten techniques and finishes like steel boning and dense cartridge pleats, the overall effect is garments that are dangerous and sensual.

Shushu/tong

 

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Ruffles and gingham, bow and peplum skirts, coquette is Shanghai-based label Shushu/tong's bread and butter. Founded almost a decade ago, the label's contributions of ballerina brogues, lace-trim cardigans and sailor-collar mini dresses make it a natural source for all your girlish fantasies.

 

Cecilie Bahnsen

 

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We hit peak Cecilie Bahnsen in 2018 when everyone from Courtney Tropp to Ariana Grande were seen wearing the ultra-feminine gowns from the eponymous designer. With a background working on opera costumes at The Royal Danish Theatre and freelance projects at Christian Dior, Bahnsen has continued to hold our attention in the years since. There's something whimsical yet strong about the voluminous baby doll silhouettes, which speak to the frothy desires of our inner child. Also, Cecilie Bahnsen sits alongside Sandy Liang, Simone Rocha, and Kiko Kostadinov for providing the perfect coquette footwear with their various mary-jane-sneaker hybrid collaborations with Asics.

 

Cormio

 

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You'll recognise Cormio's twee sweaters and knitted singlets, featuring lace appliqué and vintage-inspired motifs. Made and designed in Italy, the brand has built a loyal following off the back of its Y2K-influenced designs, and slots nicely into this list of coquette recommendations given its penchant for bows, pointelle, frill trims, and cherry patterns.

 

Buci

 

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Less ostentatious than other displays of coquette on this list, Buci fulfils the brief in its own subtle ways. With flower-shaped mother of pearl buttons and form-fitting lace dresses, relaxed corsets and flirty skirts, our cart is loaded and begging to be checked out. Plus, everything is made in the USA.

 

Anne Isabella

 

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Earthier and more organic than your initial image of coquette, Anne Isabella delivers an elevated take on coquette. There's ruffles and lace and drapery, but shells and fossils are the inspiration not bows and girlhood.

Daisy

 

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Many will be familiar with Australian label Daisy thanks to its viral milkmaid dress worn by the likes of Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Lily-Rose Depp. But the brand is no one hit wonder, and continues to deliver hyper-feminine looks that even the goths would wear.

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Images: @simonerocha_ @cormio @shushu__tong @sandyliang