The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing and the dark days are gone – yes, spring is officially here. But step into the fashion world and it’s a different kind of image, one that frames glacial habitats with magnificent peaks and snow-capped landscapes. It’s true, fashion is once again experiencing a moment of the outdoors.
Fashion week has had its fair share of contemporary midlife looks and the opposite avant-garde ensembles preparing us for post-pandemic life. Yet among the comfy and glamorous was also a group of shows that showcased the sartorial craftsmanship of the great outdoors, the fashionable sensibility of skiing, and the allure of a snowy backdrop.
For Miu Miu Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection, the models roamed the mountainous terrain of Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, sporting giant fur boots and coats, padded quilt sets and ski suits, full-coverage face masks and bear gloves plush. Even in silky dresses and opaque blankets, they hung out in the snow with heavy boots.
At Thom Browne, the designer of the house took the winter concept literally, calling on Olympian skier Lindsey Vonn for her fall / winter 2021 fashion film. Wearing an iconic striped tuxedo skirt suit Vonn hurtled down the tree-lined slopes with ease. But taking a moment away from the action, the rest of the collection struck a balance between black tie and seasonal sportswear; thick padding was full bodied over tuxedos and dresses (including Vonn’s canary dress) and chunky cabin-only sweaters tucked into sculptural skirts, while Winter Olympic towns were graced with patches.
Then the Helmut Lang Fall / Winter 2021 collection transformed ski clothing into a road that was both nostalgic and futuristic. While its touch of utilitarianism – woven through earthy tones and structured cuts – resembles that of the ’90s and its space-age metals aren’t particularly focused on skiing, the collection’s functionality (think with high technology and materials resistant to water and wind), marks its position as avant-garde but accessible to sports.
We wonder: has fashion always been obsessed with mountains and skiing?
Alongside Miu Miu, Thom Browne and Helmut Lang, ski-focused brands and houses such as Moncler and Chanel have transported the slopes to the sartorial world. The Old Genius Project is a destination for bulbous puffer jackets shaped like full-body dresses, coats and glasses paired with leggings while the Chanel Fall 2019 show was a winter wonderland filled with salon looks from 80s inspired ski and sleek white fur trimmed mini skirts.
This inspiration spilled off the track as well, continuing into other arenas like the cinema. Those with voguish wardrobes managed to sum up the grandeur side of the ski lifestyle, like the 1963 film Charade who featured Audrey Hepburn in a modern Givenchy brown ski one piece. And, more recently, photos from the filming of Gucci House exhibited the repertoire of luxe après-ski costumes, sparking a fashionable frenzy among Gucci-lites.
Even in pop culture, celebrities who ski have always gained more attention for their looks than their ability to dive into the mountains. From modern day reality stars like the Kardashian-Jenners and Paris Hilton (who never lets a hot pink moment pass even in the snow) to legendary It-girls like Jane Birkin, Bridgette Bardot, Brooke Shields and Princess Diana, their choice of mountain clothing has influenced the way fashion enthusiasts embrace nature in their finest cuts.
In addition to the avant-garde impact of skiing on fashion, tapping into the mountains now means something more – a sense of freedom and a connection with humble roots. Although normalcy slowly returns after a year of squatting, fashion still craves the openness and opportunity that the outdoors defines, as if it is always trying to make up for lost time. It reflects Thom Browne’s desire for an unwavering and limitless approach to dressing and carries Miuccia Prada’s paradoxical message of overwhelming openness and the bravery experienced in exaggerated but confined clothing – both looked to the mountains. and have used their collections to, in a non-ironic way, reach new heights and express the sign of the times.
Mother Nature in general has had her fair share of love over the past year. Gucci’s collaboration with The North Face married designer concepts with recreational features, while Burberry’s Fall 2021 menswear collection featured camping designs like wide backpacks with umbrellas, utility scouts like silhouettes and prints of wild animals. Even the percolating green on the track and on social media has a leafy attachment. The recent ebb and flow of nature is a vicarious way to experience the past and the future in a sense of calm, travel and hope.
Even though we just peak in the warmer months, it’s obvious it’s never too early to appreciate the snowy seasons ahead. So put on your glasses and lace up your boots because the mountains are calling you.
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