Twice a year, a few of my colleagues and I attend the European fashion shows in Milan and Paris. These shows serve many functions — they are theater, provocation, performance art — but at their core, they’re predictions of what we’ll be wearing six months from now. Not literally, perhaps, but often, what originates there eventually winds up on the streets of Shanghai, Chicago and Stockholm (even if, in many cases, what’s on the runway was borrowed from the street in the first place, remixed and sent back out as something new). Each collection is therefore a proposal for how we might present our future selves.
On the Covers
Yet if the clothes are a suggestion, they’re also a reflection of recent history and our collective emotional responses to it. This has always been a distinguishing characteristic of modern fashion: Dior’s so-called New Look, with its full, ultrafeminine skirts, was as much a declaration as it was an aesthetic — the war was indeed over, and with it, the years of fabric rationing and austerity. Next, Coco Chanel’s jaunty shoulder purse, the 2.55, inspired by soldiers’ satchels, announced that women needed their hands free to do things other than carry a handbag. In recent years, manifestations of designers’ anxieties and fears — many of which are our fears, too — have dominated the runways. Visions of apocalypse, of technology run amok, of, especially, climate change, have found expression in dresses and bags, skirts and shoes. In 2021, after the depths of Covid-19, fashion turned cozy and comfortable, with oversize, plush knits and exaggerated, floor-skimming sleeves.
So there’s something particularly hopeful about this spring’s fashion, the subject of the photographer Johnny Dufort and the stylist Carlos Nazario’s story. These are clothes made for every day — maybe not your every day (and maybe not mine, either), but for a life lived out of the house. They’re pieces for dashing down a sidewalk, for hailing a taxi, for going to a party, for having dinner at a restaurant. They’re not for lounging; they’re for strutting. (The fact that we shot the story on location in New York, where everyone thinks the sidewalk is theirs, made it all the more resonant.)
For some of us, there’s no returning to the once before, and who knows if we’ll ever be securely in the after. But this is fashion’s gift to us: It makes a promise that time will go on. And wherever it does, and for however long, we’ll have something to wear as we march into the great unknown.
Hair by Jawara. Makeup by Yadim. Models, clockwise from top left: Ugbad Abdi at Next Management. Lina Zhang at Fusion Models. Vivienne Rohner at Heroes New York
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