If you kept up with style trends in the 2010s, you probably had a peplum top you paired with skinny jeans and ballet flats. (We don't blame you. We did, too.) From peplum blouses to dresses and skirts, the dramatic silhouette was everywhere. Now, over a decade later, the controversial fashion trend is making a comeback thanks to celebrities like Florence Pugh, Gabrielle Union, Angela Bassett, and Harry Styles, who aren't afraid to air out the retro ruffles one more time.
Notably, Union delivered a unique take on the trend in a Schiaparelli corset jumpsuit during a night out in Los Angeles on 13 Oct. The olive-green piece, designed by Daniel Roseberry, featured a gold three-button closure at the waist and seashell-inspired pleating along the bust. Union styled the plunging outfit, which flared at the hips, with a gold-and-silver statement choker and square-toe chrome heels.
Like flared jeans, the exaggerated peplum silhouette has elicited varied reactions from fashion lovers worldwide. Those in favour of the peplum trend often praise its ability to accentuate the smallest part of the waist — à la corset tops — and add volume to the hips. Those opposed to the dramatic design most frequently cite the wilted fabric that, when draped haphazardly, can end up looking messy at best and like a wrinkled bedsheet tucked into the waist at worst. Modern takes on the throwback look, though, boast one key difference: structure.
Most recently, designers such as Armani Privé, Viktor & Rolf, Givenchy, Dior, and Prabal Gurung have all showcased peplum silhouettes in runway shows, proving that the trend's return is more than just a sartorial phenomenon. By using stiffer fabrics and incorporating seasonal trends like sheer fabrics and sequins, these designers and more have managed to manipulate the peplum trend, reforming it into something fresher and more digestible for a 2023 audience.
Though we often associate it with the 2010s, the peplum trend dates as far back as ancient Greece, where people of all genders used the cinched waist and extended hips to emphasise an hourglass silhouette, according to MasterClass. The style gained even more popularity during the Renaissance era, which boasted detailed corset bodices attached to full skirts that extended at the waist. Today, the peplum style is romantic and experimental all at once, pressing the boundaries of what it means to be haute couture.
Considering some of our favourite fashion trends this year have been some of the most unusual — see thong boots and seven-inch platforms — we have hope that the peplum trend, as controversial as it is, will be leaving its mark the second time around.
Ahead, see how celebrities like Union, Anne Hathaway, and Anitta have been putting their own spin on the peplum trend.