Fashion Week Spring 2022 Is Coming Back To A Completely Different New York
Christian Siriano kicked off the NY Fashion Week Spring 2022 edition on Tuesday night with a colorful (some called it over the top) collection. Siriano remains the same sassy, creative genius we first met and fell in love with during the fourth season of the Project Runway. He is the man who famously wrote Dresses to Dream About, a television star himself who dresses celebrities like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Rihanna, and Heidi Klum for star-studded events. It seems only natural for him to err on the side of opulence after such a long break from the runway. “We’re getting the most insane requests,” said Siriano, talking about client demands and what inspired him to be more “fierce” than usual in this particular collection.
A sign of the times we live in and proof of how much we’ve changed in these 18 months was Vogue editor’s review of the collection and her suggestion for Siriano and implication for all of us that the sensible thing to do might be to exercise restraint when faced with the temptation of being “extra”. Great advice at any time, but in the current economic situation, it was particularly auspicious and surprised us only because it came from Vogue:
“Yet this push-and-pull between restraint and self-expression, opulence and minimalism, mirrors the chaotic times we live in. Mixed messages are everywhere. We know we must consume less, yet are tempted by the thrill of being ‘extra’ that a life led on camera and social media seems to demand. We’re enticed by a world in which everyone can be a star.”
Last year marked a defining moment for the fashion industry. The social justice movement that followed George Floyd’s murder forced a difficult introspection into an industry riddled with inequities, racism, and elitism. Brands and magazines rushed to express their unflinching support for the BLM movement, hired and promoted new black employees, released statements, wrote apology letters (see Anna Wintour) and sold a lot of slogan T-shirts. There were also initiatives like Black in Fashion Council and 15 Percent Pledge that we hope are here to stay.
The Siriano show opened and closed with Precious Lee, the first black curve model to appear on the pages of American Vogue. This was not the first time Siriano featured diverse models, in fact, throughout his career the designer built a reputation for supporting inclusivity and diversity by dressing actresses and models of all sizes and ethnicities, and actresses that other designers won’t dress. He was famously once the only designer willing to dress Leslie Jones for her Ghostbusters premiere and later on was one of the first designers to cast “curve” models. While his “People are People” mantra shows Siriano was ahead of the curve in terms of body positivity and inclusivity, the industry has had some catching up to do. In addition to designers like Siriano, companies like Savage X Fenty and SKIMS have successfully introduced body positivity and the industry has no option but to follow at this point — if it hasn’t changed yet, it has to.
Before the pandemic, we were questioning the validity of a wholesale business model and the importance of traditional media in this context. While these problems haven’t necessarily been solved we are faced now with the reality of an industry more aware of its excesses and past injustices and prejudices and hopefully honestly willing to make amends.
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