Near the end of the 19th century, cloaks and capes were considered part of standard outerwear for both men and women. This fashion staple showed off the finest of fabrics and accentuated linings and trimmings. The finest of textiles, including exotic silks, velvet and bourdon lace, were used to create the final additions to every evening ensemble. They were particularly popular with the opera crowd often being referred to as the opera cloak. If one were to follow true etiquette guidelines during this time,it was advised for ladies to have at least 2 or 3 evening capes making up their trousseaus – a bride’s collection of clothing before marriage.
Today, capes are still making a fashion statement on the runways and I definitely fell in love with Dolce and Gabbana’s SS15 ready-to-wear collection during Milan fashion week.
On the local front, I came across a designer whose capes added a simple, yet impactful touch to her collection of sheath dresses. Hazel Mae has devoted herself to a line that screams contemporary, colourful and most importantly, comfortable. Close fitting. Astraight drapery. Enveloping. Sheath dresses are the ideal multi-functional piece for your closet and can definitely take you from the office to after-work drinks or even, say, the opera. Her modern capes compliment any daytime look and are perfect to wrap yourself with on a cool summer night.
MC: What does the sheath dress mean to you as a favourite staple in your closet?
HM: The sheath is my favourite silhouette. I think it gives such a nice contour on the body. I’ve always been a fan of tailored and close-fitting dresses. I think it’s flattering on a woman’s body. Sheath dresses are usually very simple, and sometimes simplicity can equal elegance. You’ll notice that most of my designs are unadorned – no frills, bows, too many buttons – nothing that can take away from the silhouette of the body. I’m not very tall and sheath dresses usually fell to my knee or mid-thigh, so it gave me the illusion of having longer legs. Sheath dresses in two tone, color blocking or solid colors were a huge staple in my wardrobe.
MC: How did you come to master this piece for your collection and make it stand out from other designer dresses?
HM: I think one of the big reasons why my line has been successful is because women know what they’re getting. If you’re looking for a contemporary collection with clean, modern lines, and lots of colour, you can count on this line season in and season out. I’m still learning and educating myself when it comes to fabrics and design. What I do know is what looks flattering on my body. What makes me feel confident and beautiful and comfortable. If I follow those rules, more times than not, I end up with a design and ultimately a dress that ends up in my collection.
MC: Your capes are the perfect accent and compliment your dresses in such an effortless fashion. Where did the inspiration come from when you decided to use capes over, say, matching jackets.
HM: Thank you for that! My inspiration for the cape came from the fact that I don’t like suit jackets. I wanted something that didn’t look like your grandmother’s shawl, but had the same function with a modern twist. I didn’t want the structure of a jacket and wanted a cape that was practical, but still stylish. The ivory trim on all the capes just gave it a dash of sophistication. I like to think of Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and The City walking into a restaurant with one of my capes on and saying to herself, “I have arrived!”.
MC: What do you have in store for fall/winter?
HM: For fall/winter, I’d like to do more two-tone and color blocking. I’m working on some Asian-inspired designs in my dresses with a contemporary flare. There’s a terrific light weight poncho that we would like to include in this line.