Reclaiming Motherhood on the Runway

Balenciaga spring 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Balenciaga

What’s most interesting is the fact that the designers engaging these subjects are often young, and their work exists outside the status quo, with a point of view that explores more decidedly unconventional aesthetics. That these designers should be seen as embracing “traditional family values,” is the last thing expected of them, but that’s exactly why it makes perfect sense for them to explore. Few things read as historically uncool as being a mom or a dad, and if this generation has reclaimed and recontextualized the notions of good and bad taste, made dad sneakers and mom jeans cool, why not the concept of motherhood itself?

“At the risk of sounding ‘conservative’ or ‘trad,’ I feel like society today makes motherhood and focus towards family out to be some sort of undesirable and unambitious default for having failed at your plan A,” Velez told me. “I think we’re slowly but surely coming out of a really toxic zeitgeist around what motherhood and family is and isn’t.” Jezabelle Cormio felt similarly after she got pregnant, “At first I thought I was gonna be ‘that girl who could have had potential, but then she had a baby’,” she tells me laughing, “I knew that it was an unfair thing to even fathom, but I knew I was gonna have to fight that concept for a long time. I didn’t think [motherhood] was going to inspire me, but I do take a lot of inspiration from frustration or anger or friction. So it’s not a surprise to me that I was inspired by it.” Cormio’s show featured an array of both men and women in revealing clothes — wrap miniskirts with cutouts at the hip, a jacket with a velvet ribbon tie at the neck exposing a lacy bra, clingy knits, lots of lingerie-inspired details. “What I wanted to capture in the collection is that you don’t fundamentally change. You don’t ever go to a club again, you are allowed to go out and have a sexuality and be a dynamic person. You just have to negotiate [your time around it.]”

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