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The return of the catsuit

Love them or loathe them, catsuits are set to take over this season. We take a look at where it all started.

Progressing from the humble leotard, the unique garment was catapulted into mainstream fashion when French designer André Courreges introduced his Space Age collection in 1964. His designs included moon boots, robotic looking goggles, and the widely-praised highlight of the women's collection–a long-sleeved, one-piece. With the women's rights movement in full swing at the time, the bodysuit confirmed women's changing roles in society, symbolising liberation, and opening the door for further social change.

Anrdé Courreges catsuit

When thinking of the catsuit, one notable antihero comes to mind; Catwoman. Originally called 'The Cat', she had her first appearance in DC Comics' Batman series in early 1940, portrayed as a jewel thief motivated by her desire for pretty and valuable things. Although her cat motif has stayed with her since the beginning, the feline baddie hasn't always sported her signature catsuit. Her debut look was a simple green dress, however, as her character evolved, so did her costume. Catwoman has experimented with colours, masks, and accessories and has undergone many changes over the years. The first appearance of the catsuit wasn't until the mid-'60s when Julie Newmar took on the role of Catwoman in the Batman television series wearing a black, glittering one-piece. By the '80s, Catwoman had finally found her trademark look.

Julie Newmar as Catwoman 1966

By the early '90s, women were embracing their figures and flaunting tighter clothing as an expression of femininity and strength. Designers across the globe cashed in on the form-fitting trend and introduced an array of edgy catsuits into their collections, including Azzedine Alaïa and Versace.

Fast-forward 30 years and designers are reimagining the catsuit in fresh, fun ways. Richard Quinn has become known for his head-to-toe ensembles, whilst almost half the looks at Saint Laurent were figure-hugging one-pieces.

The trend doesn't have to be daunting though… If the thought of a figure-hugging one-piece makes you shudder, throw a blazer or a wrap skirt on top to instantly feel more relaxed. Whether you opt for neon or neutral, printed or plain, the catsuit remains synonymous with a sense of empowerment.


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