Surrealism walks the runway

International Fashion Week pushes boundaries

Image by: Rida Chaudhry
A century later

From real-life pixelation to the spray-on dress, the international fashion world is undoubtedly embracing the surreal.

Surrealism has closely tied itself to fashion since Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dali intertwined the two in the 1920s, an era marked by civil unrest and distrust toward authoritative institutions.

The other-worldly phenomenon erupted as a reactionary response to World War I as surrealists believed rationalist ideologies were guiding European culture and politics into an increasingly militarized state of mind.

The dip into fantasy came in a time when reality was increasingly difficult to stomach. All these years later, it seems the political unrest and anxiety of contemporary society catalyzed by a global pandemic has re-ignited society’s desire to explore the surreal.

Nearly a century later, the design movement that once fostered unmeasurable creativity and innovation was back in full force at this fall’s international fashion weeks.

The traditionally haute-couture House of Schiaparelli toed the line between surrealism and wearability in its first ever ready-to-wear collection.

Knighted the “Mother of Strange Fashion,” the bridge between wearability and the signature of the fashion house is quite large. However, creative director Daniel Roseberry designed a collection that is as beautiful as it is tastefully bizarre.

The collection umbrellaed itself under gold accents, from accessorized facial features to striking silhouettes painted on the clothing themselves. Roseberry focused on the accentuation of the human body throughout to facilitate fantasy.

Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, stunned the show’s audience 68 times by sending 68 sets of twins down the runway. The Milan show explored the beauty of twinship in a display that can best be described as dream-like—each piece of the collection looked even more stunning when walking alongside its mirrored pair.

Spanish luxury fashion company Loewe explored the cross between the Metaverse and reality through a surrealist pixelated outfit, fully wearable sweater, and pant combinations that emulated the digital world. The double-takes were well-earned.

The rest of the collection ranged from flora and fauna to playful proportions.

Hyper baby doll silhouettes and what appeared to be a curved Bristol board under a grey Hanes tee shirt were featured on the runway, the latter proving that there’s such a thing as too much irony when it comes to surrealist design.

Anthurium flowers were scattered across the collection as explorations of nature accompanied that of the Metaverse, leading critics to question the lack of unity. However, it couldn’t be deemed as any more surrealist than the completely paradoxical themes dominating the show.

Meanwhile, GCDS created a SpongeBob collection that somehow lacked camp and came out the other side into surrealism. The effort poured into a profusely ironic yet beautiful collection that glorifies the famous sponge who lives in a pineapple under the sea.

Perhaps the most infamous look of the week was Bella Hadid walking onto the Coperni finale  in nothing but a thong before having her dress sprayed-on.

The designer duo, Arnaud Vaillant and Sebastian Meyer, have previously committed the brand to bridging the gap between scientific innovation and pushing the boundaries of fashion—the result is nothing if not accurate to their mission.

There’s no question fashion has grown tiresome of the real, the ordinary, and the inconsequential. This fall’s international fashion weeks prove it.

Now, we can only wait and see what comes next.


Fashion, fashion week, Surrealism

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