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Molly Goddard AW17
Molly Goddard AW17Photography Lucie Rox

Molly Goddard’s girls crash their parents’ dinner party

Showing her collection around sets of abandoned tables and chairs, Goddard creates a world of child-like dress-up

Molly Goddard runs on girlhood fuel – just look at her signature smock detailing, her tulle dresses that stand away from the body, and her nods to starched and ruffled Victorian children’s clothes. Her show at the Tate Modern this weekend continued to explore this theme – a joyful and sweet moment, but full of wilful girlhood self-assurance. 

This season, trousers and jackets had also snuck in, and a medium Christmas tree-sized tiered electric blue tulle dress. Backstage, Goddard explained that it was actually meant to be half the size but they hadn’t realised the fabric was three metres wide when they ordered it. “I just like things scaled down or scaled up,” she explained. “Middle ground is not so interesting to me. And I think when you’re young you are often one of the two. Then when you get older you figure out what size fits you, which is a bit boring.”

“Middle ground is not so interesting to me. And I think when you’re young you are often one of the two” – Molly Goddard

We arrived at the tail end of a dinner party (“when you get invited to [your] parents’ friend’s things or a friend’s parents so you don’t really know what to expect – you’ve dressed up too much or not enough”) where the girls chatted to each other after their turn on the circular catwalk, seated around tables with crumpled tablecloths and heaving plates of fruit. The mood: flashbacks to suppers as a child where you’d sneak sips of leftover wine after the grownups had decamped to the sitting room.

So where does Goddard’s fascination with girlhood come from? “I think maybe because I was – maybe I am – quite childish. I still feel quite childish. I don’t really know what the obsession is. I always look at baby clothes and children’s clothes. It’s partly due to the fact that they’re smaller so you can store them,” she said, chuckling.

There were ballet references, of course – the shoes, the tutus – which made you think of little girls who never want to take off their ballet costume or insist on wearing tulle and puff sleeves to go play outside in winter. And that’s part of the magic of girlhood: that you can exist in your own fantasy world where it’s always fancy dress hour and no one is going to tell you otherwise.