Posted on: January 16, 2022 Posted by: Ariel Tattum Comments: 0

Some outfits carry with them such a momentous gravitational pull, you can feel them brushing past you with the force of a thousand suns. I felt myself entering a new orbit outside the Collina Strada spring 2022 show in Brooklyn: A guest whooshed past me in an orange mesh top, cascades of lilac ruffles, and platform teal sneakers, frills fanning out in the breeze. On the Brooklyn Grange rooftop farm, where designer Hillary Taymour had constructed a runway between the kale and basil harvests, another was wearing a vintage Versace blouse with translucent white pants and a coral necklace the size of the Great Barrier Reef. Two boys in multicolored nail polish gossiped in the front row while their female companion pulled her furry bucket hat over her ears.

Without fanfare, the show music started playing and guests looked around quizzically: Was the audience the show? At any moment, it seemed, someone might pop up from the front row and bolt onto the runway in new-old, upcycled-​kitschy clothing. It was not just what the audience was wearing that left such a mark that the Vogue office was clamoring about it weeks later: It was the who. A diverse group of all backgrounds and genders—actor Sasha Frolova and her grandmother; the chef DeVonn Francis; the model Jazzelle Zanaughtti; and the septuagenarian runway superstar Kathleen McCain Engman among them—was welcomed and celebrated, a marked pivot in the way fashion reflects and engages with the world.

Days later, at Luar’s Bushwick show, the front row included a guy in leather chaps—provocatively sans culottes!—and a tardy guest in a crop top who, when she couldn’t find a seat, plopped down on my lap, both vibrating with the same kinetic energy as Omahyra Mota and Richie Shazam on the runway in Raul Lopez’s sensual and strict new collection. Marni pushed the equation even further: Every guest seated around a winding stage in Milan was outfitted in pieces from past seasons, recycled beautifully by hand-painting each garment with vibrant stripes, swirls, and flowers. Who was a part of the show and who wasn’t? What we saw after a month of spring 2022 collections was a stirring new way of dressing that kicked away boundaries and embraced individuality over groupthink. The sea change was everywhere: runways, streets, subways—even in the most conservative circles, exuberance abounds.

Fashion wasn’t always this welcoming of eclecticism. If our year of so-called reckoning might not have made all the changes we’d hoped for in society, it has certainly empowered designers to make their catwalks look a little more like the sidewalks in fashion capitals like New York, Shanghai, Lagos, Tokyo, and Paris, where patterns clash, skirts are layered over pants, and midriffs are as commonplace as a sensible lug sole black boot. The once-stark line between the people on the runway and the people who watch it has not just been blurred—it has been erased.

“It feels like a return to the early days of when people wore what they liked because they liked it,” Phil Oh, Vogue’s longtime street style photographer, says of the scene outside the spring collections. “It’s about showing one’s true personality instead of wearing something because it’s trendy or cool.”

That might not sound radical, but dressing independent of social status, gender norms, body type, and occasion is still a revolutionary idea in the world at large. Just think of all the fashion diktats you know: no white after Labor Day, no skirts for men, no horizontal stripes lest they accentuate the wrong curve. In the ways of the old school, femininity necessitated a delicate pump and masculinity required a suit. The new generation of fashion obsessives born in the digital era are not just challenging these ideas—they are obliterating them altogether to reflect a new fashion world that is inclusive and representative of all people.

The musician and model Angel Prost had a starring role at Collina Strada’s show: After walking the runway with their sibling Lulu, they quickly transitioned into a live techno-­rock performance from their band, Frost Children. (As the spring 2022 collections continued around the world, Prost had a groundbreaking season walking the runway for Chloé, Marni, Celine, Miu Miu, and more.)

When we met for coffee on New York’s Lower East Side—between stores like Bode, Café Forgot, and adjacent to the highly curated vintage emporium James Veloria, each of which represents the city’s new style—Prost appeared like a vision in almost a dozen clashing and ethereal layers: vintage floral jeans worn under a pleated wool skirt “inspired by my look at Miu Miu,” a tie-neck blouse and crochet vest underneath a Collina Strada pink hoodie, and a long strand of pearls. Prost’s dove-gray Celine bag, a present they received after appearing as a caftan-wearing high priestess in the brand’s spring 2022 menswear video, is covered in charms of kawaii Japanese characters. “I think I’ve probably gone a bit loud with what I wear,” they say, noting that certain designers have started to request pieces from Prost’s wardrobe as seasonal references, “but a lot of it comes from being inside fantasizing, watching movies, and getting inspiration for what the world could be. Then I try to make those fantasies into realities through getting dressed.”

https://www.vogue.com/article/power-of-contemporary-street-style