What makes aprons useful

Yes, indeed: aprons are making a comeback

  • In the mirror

    Hella Schneider

Who hasn't stood by the stove or oven over the past year? So it is only logical that the apron is back too - that the earlier symbol for backwardness is now in fashion shows how far feminism has come.

Almost exactly a year ago, at the height of the first lockdown, there was an article in the American “Vogue” with the title “14 things that will give you pleasure”. One of these 14 things was an apron with a large pop art flower pattern by Marimekko. The new domesticity had just picked up speed with the “Stay at home” instructions, and in order to somehow make the most of the situation, that was exactly what was being celebrated: the simple joys of everyday life.

We now have a year of pandemic behind us and - at least in many European countries and also in Switzerland in this country - we are not much better off than a year ago. The new domesticity now seems to have taken for granted, and it is likely that what was loved during this time will remain a part of life in the future. The fact that the apron celebrated a comeback in various forms is one of the many examples of this.

This is also proven by the many celebrities who showed up in aprons over the past year. There is, for example, supermodel Kendall Jenner, who wore an apron with a green pattern from the trend label La Double J (which is why the model was of course sold out quickly), or Kate Middleton, who wore a classic dark blue apron with a dress in the cooking show "A Berry Royal Christmas" combined by Alessandra Rich.

Singer and teen idol Selena Gomez wore a model from Anthropologie in her cooking show “Selena + Chef”, and actress Drew Barrymore designed her own apron for the US supermarket giant Walmart.

So you see: Aprons are a very democratic item of clothing - their popularity extends through all age groups, style preferences and tastes. One of the reasons for this is that aprons always have at least the appearance of sustainability: almost all models are made of natural materials such as cotton or linen, and once you have an apron you usually keep it for years. In this respect, the apron cannot really be described as a trend piece, and that is exactly what makes it so contemporary.

The apron comeback is different from earlier attempts at revival because it feeds on longings that are distant from fashion. Because the apron has nothing to do with fashion trends or even the runways at the moment. That was different a few years ago: Various designers tried to revive the previously stuffy item of clothing in a high-fashion version. A leather apron could be seen at Fendi in 2015, in the same year Miuccia Prada designed knee-length checked dresses for Miu Miu, the cut and silhouette of which were reminiscent of tied aprons from the 1950s.

Originally, aprons were inevitably linked ideologically to the 1950s - and thus with an actually unfeministic image, the image of the good housewife in apron. But this image is not entirely correct, because: A modification of the apron, namely the apron dresses, could have had a feminist character.

They were cut straight, almost like smocks, and allowed far more freedom of movement than the extremely feminine petticoat dresses or tight costumes of the fifties.

After all, it was Coco Chanel who designed straight-cut dresses that were vaguely reminiscent of apron dresses - the first high-fashion version of the practical dresses that were otherwise only supposed to be worn for household chores and that were certainly not proudly displayed outside. Today what used to be called apron dresses would simply be a practical light summer dress. We owe that to Diane von Fürstenberg: When she designed her legendary wrap dresses in the 1970s, she was inspired by apron dresses (called “Hoover Dresses”).

Von Fürstenberg ironically reversed their meaning - their wrap dresses became the epitome of feminine feminism in fashion. The apron itself also found a new meaning relatively quickly even earlier: In Italian film productions in particular, it was screen icons like Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani who wore apron dresses and aprons - and in them a strong sex appeal, which was new at the time because of the originality, simplicity and honesty of the aprons.

Today aprons are no longer charged with so much meaning, but the fact that they are so trendy today shows how far feminism has come - the apron has long since shed its housewife significance. It is simply a practical piece of clothing in the kitchen, which celebrates cooking and baking, enhances the pure action to a certain extent, stages it - in other words: it brings joy.

It will certainly stay that way when a pandemic means that domesticity is no longer a necessary evil. The apron has proven its versatility for decades.