The simple Bow, who would have thought it actually had great significance in our world? This twee accoutrement to girly dresses yet at the same time worn as a political and social marker. Turning back the pages of history, the bow is believed to be fashioned in the Middle Ages when the ribbon was created with the advent of the loom. The Metropolitan Museum of Arts even has gold hair ribbons from 2600 to 2500 BC. Find out more about how this slight trim has a deep significance even now in the modern world. Find out more in Bow- Tastic here
In later years of the 16th and17th centuries, it had already become a gender-neutral hair accessory more commonly worn as a love lock. A lock of hair longer than the rest of the head was braided using a bow. The lovelock was then laid on the chest reflecting romantic emotions.
In the 18th century, the bow was a popular accessory among the affluent French. A mistress of Louis XIV, Marquise de Fontange lost her hat during riding and to save herself from the embarrassment of loose hair, she took a ribbon from her dress to tie her hair instantly giving rise to a fashion trend. Rumour also has it that Marie Antoinette’s hairdresser spent 20,000 francs on her hair ribbons.
The gender-neutral stance of the bow still holds true. Pierre Lorillard designed the tuxedo and black bow tie in 1886 which was in vogue for decades. For a short moment in time, the bow tie also made a leap toward womenswear in the 1920s and 1930s. Katharine Hepburn and Marlene Dietrich made headlines by wearing pantsuits and ties. In 1927, Elsa Schiaparelli, the Italian surrealist designer celebrated the bow by knitting it into the neckline of the sweater in her newly launched collection.
Yet there was running simultaneously the wearing of bow ties as a political and social commentary for example Black bows were donned by women during the American Civil war to make a political point.
Bows took on flirtatious connotations, as evidenced by a 1944 spread from LIFE magazine that assigns various romantic meanings to the placement of a young lady’s hair bow,
During the 60s and 70s, the trend of pussy bow blouses emerged which came to symbolize women’s empowerment in workplaces. Many advocacy groups have adopted ribbons as symbols of support or awareness with a single colour, referring to more than one cause.
The red ribbon, as an awareness ribbon, is used as a symbol of the solidarity of people living with HIV/AIDS, and for the awareness. whilst the white ribbon was the badge of the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and in recent times is the symbol of anti-violence against women, safe motherhood, and other related causes.
The Yellow Ribbon Campaign of Myanmar is a movement of lawyers against the appointment of retired military officers to positions in Judiciary Practice in Myanmar (Burma) in September 2015.
We also know that bows are commonplace in characters from books and movies. Here used in more saccharine ways, think Minnie Mouse, Daisy, Little Mermaid, and Belle from Beauty and the Beast all are characters with bows adorned in their hair. Male characters like Donald Duck also wore coloured bow ties.
Also seen as a beloved staple in British fashion history; from queen consorts to icons like Princess Diana all have made strong fashion declarations with bows. It has stood the test of fashion and embodies feminity, demure, power, attraction and eminence as well as social change.
From adorning hair and dresses, the iconic bow has now found new life on bags. Paying its respects to the bow silhouette, Alexander McQueen introduces the Bow Bag in its autumn/ winter collection.
An expanse of Leather is sliced and folded to create a bow silhouette which is at once supple and defined, unique and easy to wear, bold and straightforward. The bow here is not tweet but sharp elegant and utterly desirable to the modern woman or man.
Find leather paired with raffia and leather paired with denim that echoing of unlikely fabric juxtapositions, an Alexander McQueen signature. After all, it’s a brand where the princess meets rock and roll styling.
Alexander Mcqueen’s Bow Bag sends out similar strong vibes and instantly adds a hint of glam to the ordinary. Its strong silhouette, a beacon for all crafted as neither strongly feminine nor masculine, adds to its modernity. Leather is contrasted with raffia and denim and is also available in vivid colours of electric blue and canary yellow. Wear it on the shoulder or carry it in your hand or better yet get a cross-body version, this bow bag with its grandeur is ready to make a dramatic entrance in your fashion collection.
A simple bow has the talent to voice many expressions from innocent girlishness to resistance and emancipation making it a part of many important history-changing events.