Ask any fashion lover what role texture plays when crafting the perfect outfit and they’ll tell you – and probably emphatically – a big. Just think of how easily something like your choice of material can, in an instant, entirely shape the lasting impression of a look. Are you aiming for a sensual effect? Lean on velvet or satin. Want earthy atmospheres? Try macrame or linen. Need to make a grand entrance at your next party? Go for bow embellishments or chain mail! But if you really want to come across as someone with some serious styling savvy, we suggest trying your hand at the fashion world’s latest obsession: mesh fabric.
First spotted on the Spring/Summer 2022 catwalks and now incorporated into current collections, the woven effect resembles crochet, but is more like a fisherman’s net (think delicate fishnet or macrame). It offers minimal coverage but offers countless layering possibilities. An example of this was in Nina Ricci’s collection for the season. The house’s former design duo, Lisi Herrebrugh and Rushemy Botter (the couple parted ways with the company in early 2022) were inspired by their affinity for diving culture and introduced pieces in bright green fishnet, including a midi skirt that would look particularly dynamic layered over another skirt of the same hemline. Consider Ganni, too: the cult brand debuted a fishnet skirt, dress and crop top with intricate beading subtly stitched into the design. And, of course, everyone’s still talking about the mesh creation seen on the Chloé catwalk – a technicolor macrame layered dress made from deadstock fabrics that will no doubt be the It dresses the season (if you can stomach the $13,000+ price tag, that is).
Off the catwalk, brands like New Zealand-based Wynn Hamlyn are leading the charge with these mesh textures. “The design process is really about finding the rope to use for the macrame pieces,” brand manager Lana Morrison told TZR. “Our pieces are all traditionally hand-knotted.” The distinction between crochet and macrame is relatively simple, but easy to confuse. Crochet knitting is created with two needles while macrame is done entirely by hand. And while the former is more typically used for clothing, when you spot a macrame top or dress, it looks like a rare and lucky find.
“For me, the crisp texture is really versatile and classic, but doesn’t necessarily get its blooms,” Petit Kouraj founder and designer Nasrin Jean-Baptiste told TZR. She uses different techniques for her line of handmade mesh bags. “Some styles are hand-tied using macrame techniques and some are made using machines,” she explains. “Individual fringe stumps are then tied and applied to each corner of the net in a particular pattern that gives the fringe a subtle layered effect.”
Jean-Baptiste developed her signature technique of applying fringe to mesh bags while traveling in Haiti when working on her brand’s concept. “I spent a week in-house at the studio where I collaborated with the artisans to create a pattern for each style that could be repeated and scaled,” she says. “It was a great creative experience to bring the bud of an idea to the town where my parents grew up and work with them to create a product that is now made in Haiti and sold around the world.”
Jean-Baptiste cites the transparency and fluidity of the net as two reasons why she is drawn to texture. “Whether on the body or while holding a personal object, it takes on the shape of everything in it and shamelessly reveals everything,” she says. “If Net were a friend, his inherent character would be playful and fun but no frills, which is why I think it makes for a perfect summer look.”
Ahead, new ideas for where to find style – and how to style it this season.
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The high-impact dress
“We love seeing our pieces worn over dresses, especially somewhere like a summer evening,” Morrison says. If you’re lucky enough to take home a head-to-toe mesh dress, rest assured you’ll never have a Friday night again with nothing to to carry. Let the edgy texture do the talking by layering your fishnet dress with a slip underneath. From there, all you need is a simple pair of sandals and the compliments will be pouring in.
The daring bag
“The thing about macrame is that it makes for the most versatile outfit,” says Morrison. Whether it’s on a dress or a top – or something more subtle like a woven bag à la Tamu Mcpherson – the style translates into different categories. Highlights of the season include Nanushka’s vegan leather macrame bag and, of course, Jean-Baptiste’s handcrafted mesh and fringed bags that come in a host of exhilarating colors.
The party top
It’s not hard to see why mesh pieces feel intrinsically tied to the holidays: they’re the ultimate conversation starters. And whether you’re donning Wynn Hamlyn’s halterneck top for the season or layering Ganni’s crop top over a crisp poplin shirt, there are endless ways to wear this texture as the centerpiece of a going out ensemble. . “We’ve even seen these mesh pieces worn as wedding outfits, which is so lovely,” adds Morrison.
The peekaboo skirt
One of our favorite ways to style fishnets? Opt for a statement skirt – like the bodycon midi pictured above – worn with a blazer or even a simple t-shirt. There’s something about the contrast between a sleek, minimalist top and a trendy skirt that looks well balanced and inexplicably cool. And once the weather warms up, the silhouette doubles as a swimsuit cover-up on vacation. Bonus: it barely takes up space in your suitcase.
The top of the statement
Invest in a great fashionable top and you invest in wardrobe options. If your wardrobe lacked this piece with a certain type of punch, now is the perfect time to invest in a filet piece. A macrame or fishnet top looks especially cool when worn only with a layered bralette underneath and paired with something like roomy pants to balance out bare skin.