Home style How Street Style Changed in 2021, According to Vogue Runway’s Photographers

How Street Style Changed in 2021, According to Vogue Runway’s Photographers

How Street Style Changed in 2021, According to Vogue Runway’s Photographers

 As Vogue Runway’s 2021 wrap-up content shows, fashion has never been more expressive and more personal, or less coherent. The year’s hottest items range from silly fur hats to $1,000 clogs to sensual corsets, while our Instagram polls of your favorite trends reveal your love of OTT monograms, covert balaclavas, preppy stripes, and sheer dresses. Google’s most popular searches are similarly random; as my colleague Steff Yotka wrote, the takeaway is that no one is sticking to one look anymore, and “image is everything.”

This year’s street style corroborates the idea. As Fashion Week slowly resumed in Europe in early 2021, Vogue Runway’s Belgium-based photographer Acielle of Style du Monde documented “more genuine,” often quieter looks in place of the OTT outfits of the Before Times. By September, her photos reflected the optimism and excitement of re-emergence, but still felt dictated by personal style, not trends or brands. Head-to-toe runway looks were rare, while clashing prints, haphazard layers, and vintage proliferated. “You really felt how people love to get dressed and get back to their social lives,” Acielle adds. “It’s a huge difference when you compare [my photos] from September and March.”

For Fashion Week regulars, it reflects a dual desire to re-embrace fashion and retain a degree of self-awareness in a fraught world. But much of the shift also comes down to the changing crowd outside the shows. With travel restricted between Asia, Europe, and the United States, Milan and Paris had fewer New York editors in the crowd, while the opposite was true stateside.

Vogue’s longtime street style photographer Phil Oh was happy to see designers fill the empty seats with friends and family. “At these shows by emerging labels like Saint Sintra and Puppets and Puppets, I didn’t know anyone’s name,” he says. “It made it more exciting. In the past, you could go through my slideshow and figure out what shows happened that day based on what the influencers and major editors were wearing. But around the Lower East Side [between shows], there were so many well-dressed young people. It made me feel like, ah—New York’s still got it.”

Acielle observed a similar rise of the non-professional “fashion enthusiast” in Milan and Paris: “I saw a lot of people just hanging around the shows, like at Rick Owens—it was all people who admire Rick and love his clothes, even if they weren’t going to the show,” she says. “It felt like a more diverse crowd [at Fashion Week] in Paris, too, which was a really nice surprise.”

What do their observations mean for street style in 2022? The Omicron variant has quickly made the upcoming fall 2022 season feel wildly unpredictable. Will runway shows resume in person, or will designers pivot back to virtual presentations? Is travel going to be remotely possible? Whatever brands decide will invariably affect Oh and Acielle’s work. While we wait for updates in the new year, they’ve edited their favorite photos of 2021; scroll through them all below.