Posted by Bethan Holt, Fashion Junior at Large

Most of you reading will be familiar with terms like "having it all" and being a "super woman" which are used unsparingly across the media to describe how females in the 21st century could/should live our lives. No matter whether it is article in a women's magazine advising readers how to fit having a gazillion children around training for ironman triathlons and running a business or a scaremongering piece in a certain daily newspaper warning of all the awful things which happen to society when women work, there has never been more debate around the merits of living up to Helen Gurley Brown's ambition of women "having it all". Inevitably, fashion has picked up on this notion with an ever growing cohort of designers aiming their collections at women who are occupying roles both at home and in a work environment- see Lauren Cochrane's insightful piece in today's Guardian.

Frank Miller's neo-noir Sin City (image from wikipedia.com)
Pencil skirts and perfect black trousers are all very well, but we can flip this on its head and make everything that little bit more FUN. That's because alongside the office appropriate dresses and mid heels which are the absolute practical investment this season, there is a bit of cartoon wonder woman wit being introduced into the equation by the likes of Nicholas Ghesquiere at Balenciaga and Phillip Lim. Through his AW12 and pre-fall collections, Lim has become the poster boy for comparing the wonder women we all want to be (with a little help from our clothes) with the comic super heroine who's right up there with Batman and Superman . Lim told Style.com that "Everyone wants garments to be superheroes. This 'fill in the blank' should save your day, your week, your year."Thus, he gave us fabulous black/white tailored slacks and a completely chic, wear-everyday tweed coat but also threw "ka-pow" knits and accessories inspired by Sin City and V for Vendetta into the mix to make his own cocktail of literal comic book heroism and metaphorical wardrobe wonders.

3.1 Phillip Lim clutch at Matches press day. Now you can buy it £345
3.1 Phillip Lim Kapow sweater £390 at Matches

Mr Lim mixes up his superhero comics with his his superhero clothes for pre-fall '12 (image from style.com)
Lim has taken his comic book fixation a step further for Vogue's Fashion Night Out. He's teamed up with Jan Duursema, a comic book artist with a speciality in Star Wars, and comic strip writer John Ostrander to produce Kill The Night which touches on all those issues of multi-dimensional lives but in a properley super heroine kind of way. It is described by Lim's people as a "A story of duality and metamorphosis, day and night, black and white, love and betrayal. Things are not what they seem. Look again."

Ghesquiere's concept for Balenciaga AW12 made the brand a corporation with models transformed into IT workers and Vice Presidents. While the idea was grounded in the reality of modern office life, the notion of something a little more cosmic entered the collection via a series of highly covetable sweatshirts with slogans like "Join a weird trip" emblazoned on the front alongside sci-fi imagery of skyscrapers and far off galaxies- a landscape which a be-caped superhero could fly into at any moment.

Balenciaga AW12 (catwalking.com)
While being a 'have it all' woman might be made out to be a pretty stressful role in life, I love that Lim and Ghesquiere are turning this on its head and imbuing us with a sense of wonder woman can-do attitude. This is by no means fashion's first foray into comic book fun. I've been doing some delving around and speaking to an absolute expert on the subject so tomorrow there will be a second installment with full on geeking out on fashion's relationship with cartoon superheroes.


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