Wear your pyjamas out

Designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are leading proponents of pyjamas as streetwear, as seen at their September show in Milan.
Designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are leading proponents of pyjamas as streetwear, as seen at their September show in Milan.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

WASHINGTON • Designers really want to turn fancy pyjamas into glamorous streetwear. The average shopper seems unconvinced.

Yet the fashion industry will not let this idea go, despite your reluctance to wear a pair of silk pyjamas to a cocktail party.

Mind you, designers are not touting basic cotton PJs, flannel onesies or filmy nightgowns. They want you to wear extremely fancy silk pyjamas and dressing gowns - the sort that you might sleep in, if you had a manservant dressing your bed in Pratesi sheets and Hermes throws.

The point of these pyjamas, however, is not sleep. They are intended to be glammed up with chic shoes and a handbag, a slash of red lipstick and a significant amount of chutzpah.

A significant portion of the fashion industry has gotten behind this notion. Last week, a Givenchy floral pyjama top was for sale on the Neiman Marcus website for US$811 (S$1,156), marked down from the original US$1,690. That was just for the top; the bottoms were extra.


Designers Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are leading proponents of pyjamas as streetwear, as seen at their September show in Milan. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

At Saks Fifth Avenue, customers will find a Gucci corsage-print silk pyjama top priced at US$2,200 and the bottoms at US$1,300.

Earlier this year, Dolce & Gabbana hosted a "pyjama party" in Los Angeles, where guests, model Naomi Campbell and actress Jessica Alba, were decked out in pyjamas.

There is a certain logic to it.

Remember model Kate Moss in her sexy Calvin Klein slip dress?

Women wear camisoles as shirts and do not mind showing off an especially sexy or frilly bra. And folks delight in boarding airplanes or heading to brunch in sweatpants, leggings and T-shirts that make up in comfort what they lack in style.

"There's a degree of function in athleisure," says Joseph Errico, fashion director of Nylon, a fashion and culture magazine based in New York. "There's this assumption that there's a stop at a gym along the way."

Pyjamas, however, are intimate without the sex appeal. They are all comfort without even the pretence of function.

There was a period when rebellious teenagers or overtaxed parents wore their jersey or flannel sleepwear out to coffee shops or the dog park. This iteration of pyjamas exuded laziness.

Fashion pyjamas are more complicated. They require a certain level of fashion savvy - to make clear that the look was intentional, not happenstance.

That requires work.

Singer Selena Gomez was recently photographed wearing pyjamas on a shopping trip.

Her hair was in a low ponytail and she wore bright red lipstick and black stiletto pumps. She looked fashionable, but she did not look comfortable.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'Wear your pyjamas out'. Print Edition | Subscribe