Planning on making a splash with your wardrobe this summer? All iridescent fabrics, ocean-inspired hues and luxe embellishments, the ‘mermaidcore’ trend is going viral for very good reason
“Look at this stuff. Isn’t it neat. Wouldn’t you think my collection’s complete? Wouldn’t you think I’m the girl, the girl who has everything?” Well, unless you’ve invested in this season’s under-the-sea aesthetic, we wouldn’t. Blame Ariel and the recent release of Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid, but mermaidcore is having a real moment right now — according to data from Google, searches for mermaid style hit a 36 per cent spike shortly after the film’s release, while Pinterest search data revealed a 614 per cent uptick in searches for the phrase, with its popularity continuing to rise at an accelerated rate. We guess you could say there really is something in the water.
The mermaid silhouette was originally created back in the 1930s by Marcel Rochas, quickly followed by Jean Patou. It has taken many forms since then, most notably for SS21 when Versace showed dresses printed with shells and starfish, and later with the resort 2022 collection, which saw the triumph of scaly sequins in sea tones. Back with a bang for SS23 and Pre-Fall23 alike, designers are once more going crazy for the trend’s ethereal, fresh and romantic sensibility, with many new collections boasting a distinct aquatic-themed vibe. “This season showcases a number of different elements that encompass the oceanic vibe of the moment including metallics, sequins, diamond-like details and iridescent materials,” Tiffany Hsu, chief buying officer at Mytheresa, tells MOJEH.“When it comes to silhouettes, bias cuts predominate, which were popular in the ‘90s and are reminiscent of fishtail shapes too.” Then you’ve got the additional aspect of under-the-sea symbolism and marine life landscape thrown into the mix, with plenty of beach and water symbols such as coral, waves, starfish and crustaceans making an appearance.
Look to the catwalks and David Koma and Blumarine are prime examples. At the former we saw Yves Klein lightweight plume dresses, which mimicked the sea itself, swishing down the runway in an array of shapes, while at Bluemarine — whose name alone suggests “an open blue horizon: that of the sea, a symbol of infinite journeys and possibilities” — body-skimming gowns were complemented with fishtail hems and shell accessories. “Other standout pieces for this season include Aya Muse’s exclusive sequin crochet gown, Nensi Dojaka’s sequin gown, the Self-Portrait x Mytheresa beaded crochet maxidress, and any of Paco Rabanne’s chainmail pieces,” adds Tiffany. In fact, Paco Rabanne is already taking the trend into next season, with Julien Dossena showing metallic purple dresses and embellished shell-like bras that really pack a punch at his AW23 show.
When it comes to the colour palette, lean towards vibrant and opulent shades that reflect a high summer or party-style direction like seafoam green, ultraviolet and also accessories in these fabrics,” explains Tiffany. As to be expected, Tom Ford’s SS23 collection is all about high-shine glamour, while N°21’s shimmering nude maxi is high up there as our pick of the season. Then of course there’s Valentino, where Pierpaolo Piccioli introduced pleated sequin pieces, such as coats, trousers and sweeping floor-length backless evening dresses that command attention.
If you’re getting caught up in mermaid fever, styling can range from mild to wild, so be sure to get the balance just right to keep your look on the side of high fashion. “For a daytime look, you can simply include pieces like crocheted accessories that pick up on the trend,” advises Tiffany. “While for a standout evening look, I would go for designers like Roland Mouret or Nensi Dojaka, who offer sophisticated and glamorous options that go well with the decorative nature of the trend.”
Consider mermaidcore hair with waist-length majestic waves that come straight from a fairytale if you’re really looking to commit, teamed with natural makeup and dewy skin that shines in the sun. That said, we’ll be the first to admit that there’s little chance you’ll want to amalgamate all of these elements into your daily look, so you can just as easily incorporate accessories to tone it down. “Big shell earrings or crocheted pieces can add a touch of mermaidcore without overwhelming the overall look,” she concludes. “Or why not layer a sequin bikini top under a shirt as a little reference, or complete the look with sparkling heels or sandals?” Ariel, eat your heart out.
- Words by Naomi Chadderton