Friday, May 7, 2021

Nick Kamen, Pop Star & Face Of The 1980s Buffalo Style, Has Died

Nick Kamen (née Ivor Neville Kamen), the 59-year-old English model and musician, has died after a long battle with bone marrow cancer.

Blue-eyed and pillowy lipped, with a beauty mark on one cheek, Kamen bore a resemblance to a young Elvis Presley. This was played up in the retro feeling of a steamy 1985 commercial he did for Levi’s 501 stonewashed denim. In it, the young model walks into a laundromat and fills a washing machine with rocks before quickly removing his T-shirt and belt and then oh so slowly unbuttoning his jeans, balling them up, and throwing them in the washer. He wears just a pair of white boxers as he waits out the spin cycle.

The Levi’s job brought Kamen to the attention of a larger audience, including Madonna, who was then entering her Marilyn Monroe phase. “Each Time You Break My Heart,” the hit single off of Kamen’s first album, was written by the pop star and originally intended for True Blue. With Stephen Bray, Madonna produced the song for Kamen and also provided the backup vocals. The beauty in the video that Jean-Baptiste Mondino shot for the single is not, however, the Material Girl, but Kamen’s then girlfriend Talisa Soto.

Kamen went on to have a string of chart-making hits. His fellow musician and friend Boy George announced Kamen’s death on his Instagram, writing, “R.I.P. to the most beautiful and sweetest man Nick Kamen!” Like the Culture Club singer, Kamen bridged the worlds of music and fashion.

“Kamen was our muse,” said Jamie Morgan, the photographer who worked with stylist Ray Petri to create the Buffalo look, in a recent interview. The style, focused on individuality and achieved with a magpie DIY approach to putting together a look, was introduced to the world through independent British magazines like i-D and The Face. Buffalo style was in part a reaction to the industry’s focus on the gloss of perfection, and though niche, it had an outsize and lasting influence, laying the groundwork for the explosion of creativity and rebellion in 1990s fashion.

We were “young and invincible,” recalled Christine Bergstrom, model and muse to Claude Montana and Jean Paul Gaultier, who worked with Kamen regularly at the time, and not only with the British Buffalo gang, but also with Paris-based talents like the illustrator Tony Viramontes and art director Marc Ascoli. “He was definitely a figure of my youth, and he takes a part of that youth with him,” said Bergstrom. Her sentiments echo those of the many people who fell under the spell of Kamen’s considerable charm.

Fendi To Relaunch Furniture Line With New Partner

The LVMH-owned brand’s Fendi Casa line will relaunch as a joint venture with Design Holding, the Italian design group whose other products include Flos lighting and B&B Italia sofas.

Silvia Venturini Fendi will provide “creative guidance” to the project, which is set to be revealed during Milan’s Salone del Mobile design show next January, the brand said in a statement.

Design Holding, whose backers include Carlyle Group and Investindustrial, will be the line’s majority shareholder. The move comes as more brands seek to increase their presence in homeware, which has enjoyed a pandemic bump in spending.

The loss of the Fendi Casa license marks the end of an era for its current producer, Luxury Living, whose founder Alberto Vignatelli spearheaded the fashion industry’s expansion into licensed furniture in the late 1980s. Vignatelli passed away in 2017, and his company was recently sold to Lifestyle Design Group (the rival Italian furniture group formerly known as Poltrona Frau).

Iris Apfel Celebrates 100th Birthday With Zenni Eyewear Collaboration

Iris Apfel is marking her milestone birthday with an accessories collection inspired by her iconic style.

Apfel is teaming with eyewear brand Zenni for a 100-piece collection to celebrate her upcoming 100th birthday in August. The fashion icon, who is known for her oversized, round glasses, curated the collection herself from Zenni’s selection of colorful, printed styles.

“I adore accessories and I think glasses can absolutely make an outfit,” Apfel said about the collection. “I collected them long before I needed them. For me, glasses inspire or finish all of my looks. We all shouldn’t want to look the same and glasses are a fantastic way to find your own unique style and change things up.”

Apfel’s collection, named the “Iris Apfel Edit,” includes five categories of eyewear styles. The collection includes “Live Colorfully,” a selection of eye-catching styles like floral print cat-eye glasses, black-and-white polka-dot glasses and a geometric-shaped turquoise style. There’s also the “Bazaar Treasures” category, which is inspired by Apfel’s love of flea markets, the “Signature Style” range, which include an assortment of oversized styles and the “Structural Design” assortment, which were inspired by Apfel’s interest in architecture. Apfel’s collection also includes a “Mini Iris” range for children.

“This collection is for anyone who strives to stand out from the crowd — and that should be everyone,” she said. “I am mad for oversized frames and Zenni has so many pairs to choose from. Of course, I didn’t shy away from colors like red and turquoise — some of my favorites — for both lenses and frames.”

The collaboration is part of a multiyear partnership between Apfel and Zenni. Apfel is also designing an exclusive capsule collection to debut during her birthday month and she will work on eyewear drops each year through 2024.

The Zenni partnership is the latest project to come from Apfel, who has been an influential figure in the fashion industry for roughly seven decades. Last year, Apfel released an autobiographical coloring book that depicted many stages from her career that benefited the University of Texas at Austin’s UT in NYC program that she launched a decade ago.

“I always say I accidentally fell into this role, but it’s nice to be admired,” Apfel said about being considered a fashion icon. “Everyone should feel confident to express their personality or mood through how they present themselves to the world and have fun while doing it. That’s what I’ve always tried to do.”

Apfel’s Zenni eyewear collection is available on the brand’s website and ranges in price from $16.95 to $45.95.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Chanel’s Cocteau-Inspired Cruise Show

Virginie Viard took Chanel’s Cruise 2021/22 collection to the South of France, where she staged a dreamy presentation complete with nods to Jean Cocteau and a live performance from the French singer Sébastian Tellier. British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen brings you five things to know about the collection.

The show took place in Carrières de Lumières

“An invitation to travel” was how Chanel described its Cruise 2021/22 show, set in the Carrières de Lumières in the village of Les Baux-de-Provence. A former quarry, the place is now home to epic lightshows that draw crowds when there’s not a pandemic around. In 1959, Jean Cocteau shot his film The Testament of Orpheus there, casting a stellar group of fellow artists from Pablo Picasso to Brigitte Bardot. Virginie Viard is a fan: “In particular this magnificent scene: a man with a black horse’s head descends into the Carrières de Lumières, his silhouette cut out against the very white walls,” she said. Cocteau, of course, was also friends with Gabrielle Chanel, or “my dear Coco” as he called her in his letters. Their two worlds united in Viard’s collection, underpinned by the house’s eagerness to return to the life of travel that created Cruise collections in the first place.

It was summertime modernism

Backdropped by the golden white limestone of the Carrières de Lumières, Viard rolled out a modernist collection rooted in the familiarities of summertime travel. “The simplicity, the precision and the poetry of Cocteau’s film made me want to create a very clean collection, with a very distinct two-tone, made up of bright white and deep black,” she said. Graphic black and white dresses had a naval sensibility about them, which, when backed up by knitted macramé dresses and capes, were decidedly seaside-friendly. Add magnified peplos silhouettes and those pre-pandemic memories of the Mediterranean were hard to forget. It was perhaps Viard’s most comfort-driven collection since taking the reins at Chanel, a statement expressed in knitted tracksuits, mesh tops layered casually over t-shirts, and twill dungarees with frayed edging.

There were frills and fringes galore

Adding to the lightness of it all, Viard trimmed her garments and bags with frills and fringes that brought a continuous sense of movement to the collection. “Echoing the extreme modernity of Cocteau’s film, I wanted something quite rock,” she said. “Lots of fringes, in leather, beads and sequins, T-shirts bearing the face of the model Lola Nicon like a rock star, worn with tweed suits trimmed with wide braids, and pointed silver Mary-Janes. A look that recalls as much the modernity of the sixties as that of punk...”

It got animalistic

Gabrielle Chanel shared with Jean Cocteau an affinity for bestiaries, observed in the various animal representations that embellished her apartment at 31 rue Cambon. Viard translated the fascination into various motifs in prints and “lucky charm” adornments, which easily captured the free-spiritedness of the collection. They included stars, a nod to an “absinthe star” Chanel mentioned in one of her letters to Cocteau. After the show, each model released a white dove before the French singer Sébastian Tellier performed a low-key medley that could have scored a summer night’s dinner in the South of France.

Chanel continued to evolve its digital format

Since the pandemic put a stop to live audiences and travel, Chanel has steadily been developing its digital experiences to make them more immersive for viewers and clients – while making no secret of the fact that it intends to return to the live format as soon as possible. This season came with a preview short film by Inez and Vinoodh shot at 31 rue Cambon, as well as moodboards depicting the friendship between the house’s founder and Jean Cocteau.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Honey Dijon And Kim Jones On What Happened To Nightlife

Honey Dijon grew up on the South Side of Chicago and came of age in the clubs that birthed house music, which, she points out, has its true origins in queer Black culture. Mentored by seminal Chicago house DJ Derrick Carter and, later, Danny Tenaglia in New York—synthesizing influences along the way from Grace Jones and Sade to John Waters and Detroit techno—she developed the signature sound and striking visual presence that has shaped her into an internationally sought-after performer and producer. Splitting her time (pre-pandemic) between New York and Berlin, Honey could be found jetting across the globe on a weekly basis to play the world’s best venues, including Berghain in Berlin, Output in NYC, Space in Ibiza, and Smartbar in Chicago, as well as festivals and fashion parties from Paris to Tokyo. Honey, whose next album Black Girl Magic drops later this year, has also remixed tracks for artists including Jessie Ware and Lady Gaga, and has a clothing line in partnership with Comme des Garçons, Honey Fucking Dijon, now in its third season. She is a furious creator, likening herself to Fran Lebowitz in the sentiment that work is her vacation.

It was through fashion, and a mutual appreciation for Paris Is Burning, that she befriended designer Kim Jones, whose runway soundtracks she has worked on from his tenure at Louis Vuitton menswear to his current position as artistic director of Dior Men, and now at Fendi, where he was recently appointed artistic director of the women’s collection, debuting with the Spring 2021 couture collection in January this year. Natalie Shukur got the longtime friends on the phone—Honey in Berlin and Kim in London—where they talked about their affinity for researching and collecting subcultural ephemera, their disdain for inspiration-zapping internet “like” culture, and their love of small clubs and loud music.

Natalie Shukur: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you both meet?

Kim Jones: We were in New York in 2003 at a presentation KCD had organized for me. Honey came with Andre Walker, and at the end of the night we ended up rolling around on the floor drunk together!

Honey Dijon: That’s about right. My introduction to Kim was, I was going to DJ in London with my best friend Derrick Carter. There was a store called The Pineal Eye and we just happened to walk over there, and there was this installation of all these very influential, historic Chicago house records and flyers. Derrick and I looked at each other and were like, “Who the fuck knows about this other than us?!” I wasn’t aware of Kim at that time, and I saw that it was him. After that I started to see his name pop up because I was always buying i-D magazine. Then I was in New York and I kept talking to people about Kim Jones and this exhibit, and one of those people was Andre Walker who told me about your presentation, and that’s how we ended up meeting.

KJ: That was actually my 2002 graduate collection from [Central] Saint Martins, and the two people I met through that were you and Michael Stipe, because he bought quite a lot of the collection, and you and Derrick got into it, and then John Galliano bought half the collection as well. And that’s how I started. I never wanted to do my own brand, I just wanted to get a job, and then I sort of did it for eight years. Honey, I think you started doing the music in 2005.

HD: Yeah, we have such a long history. It’s so funny because you’re always the same Kim to me, but to see how much you’ve achieved is just so incredible. You were so generous in the beginning of our friendship when I would come to London, you’d let me stay at your house, and we would both geek out because I’m such a collector and a research fiend. We’re really like soulmates in that way. We became such good friends through that and then Paris Is Burning [laughs].

KJ: [laughs] Which I first saw on VHS and actually wore the cassette out because I literally watched it on repeat, and I’ve got all the ephemera and extra footage and everything. I got so obsessed with that film. It’s the bravery of those people; it completely opened my mind to a different world. And I remember my first show in Paris I got Willi Ninja to do the casting.

HD: I don’t know how other people work, but Kim is so well versed and so knowledgeable about music, from pop culture to underground dance music to soundtracks to punk or new wave. He’s so clear about things and it’s mostly just about how we can interpret his vision for what he’s doing at the moment.

KJ: Quite often, the music is the thing I think about at the beginning of the collection, and even if we do have other people involved, Honey still does the mixing, like with Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder or Michael Stipe when he came over to your house. . .

HD: Oh my God, I will never forget when Michael Stipe came over to my small studio apartment and we had to put a stocking over a microphone because it was not a proper studio. And he redid the song. When I tell people that, they’re like, “You had Michael Stipe at your house singing on the microphone with pantyhose?” But it just seemed completely normal! Nellee Hooper and Nile Rodgers and Giorgio Moroder—for someone that’s been a part of house music culture since the beginning, working with these pioneers is just like a dream come true. And now just recently having Lady Miss Kier do the vocals for Dior. . .

KJ: Exactly. And Honey introduced me to Kenny [Scharf] and to Kier for that, because obviously she’s a New Yorker and Kier is quite elusive now. But Honey tracked her down.

HD: And she’s not an easy pickle to track down, either! But it’s been fun—especially working in fashion, which can be really esoteric—to bring all of these things just from a place of being a fan of those people and that music. How I found out about fashion was from house music culture. You know, these Black kids from the South Side of Chicago or these gay kids would read L’Uomo Vogue and look to what was happening in New York and they would come to the club in Ferré and Montana and Versace. That was my form of education before I even bought magazines—seeing Black kids in the clubs.

KJ: The Music Box scene and just reading about all the different types of style that people wore was the inspiration for my first graduate collection.

HD: I want to do a project that celebrates all the different dress codes that were subcultures from house music because there were so many. And that’s the thing I struggle with today in fashion. I always love fashion from an inspirational instead of an aspirational point because I love it when people use clothing to express themselves and find their people and find their community.

KJ: I like to go right to the original source, always. Music is such an important part of the show and I think very carefully about what’s chosen for it. I mean, that Supreme Louis Vuitton show with Chez Damier, the “Can You Feel It” track, which everyone freaks out about still.

HD: I think my favorite was your last runway show for Vuitton, “We’re Not Gonna Be Shady, Just Fierce!”, because it felt like the most honest soundtrack I’ve done with you.

KJ: It’s just that mixing of everything. I’m obsessed with New York in the ’80s. You look at the downtown scene and how the art, the music, the fashion was just one thing together. What I really admire about that is no one was doing it for the money. Money is a byproduct of success; they were doing it for the love of what they do.

HD: It’s so funny you say that. I haven’t been able to buy things from that time within the last five years. I mean, up until five years ago I didn’t have any fucking money that I was able to surround myself with all these artifacts from that time, from Chicago and New York, and London, too. There’s this book that I really want to get but it’s out of print, of all the club kids from the early ’80s, and it’s super hard to find.

KJ: The Chicago thing, it’s impossible to find anything. I’ve got some pictures of the Music Box and that’s it. And then the flyers, which I got on eBay years ago, and that was by chance.

HD: Well, that’s the problem with a lot of subcultures. A lot of the New York gay scene—Black gay scene—was undocumented, too. I don’t see any pictures from Tracks, very few pictures from Better Days. There’s only a few pictures really even from the Garage. If you think about it, that was from 1977 to 1987, and in that ten years you really don’t see that many pictures, other than the Keith Haring stuff or the Tina Paul stuff.

KJ: Yeah, or in The Booth.

HD: Or Bill Bernstein from The Booth. I think the difference between now and then is that people were living it and not documenting it, like they are today. Every second is documented today. I think people now are living with the image of the experience instead of living the experience.

KJ: I do think that is what’s a bit sad. It’s like the fun goes because people can’t let their hair down because they’re worried about how they look. It seems to have almost stopped inspiration happening, in a way.

HD: If the only reason for doing something is to get liked, it’s pretty sad [laughs]. As someone who is around a lot of famous people, I wish I could tell people, some of your mates are more exciting than the people that are famous. I like people that achieve fame through merit or contribution.

KJ: Yeah, I just don’t think to see it any other way. I graduated twenty years ago in March, and that feels like a second. And I think about all the things I’ve done in that time and I still can’t believe what I do for a living. But I really appreciate it and I enjoy it.

HD: This pandemic has really brought into focus how lucky I am. When people ask what success means for me, I say, one: I survived as a trans person of color, and two: I have been able to live my life as an artist. Money and other stuff are nice perks, but the fact that I can get up every day and choose my day and not have my day chosen for me, and that people respond to what I love and what I want to put out in the world, and to be able to collaborate with people like yourself and Kenny . . . that’s the success, not the stuff that comes after. And now, to be the first trans woman of color to guest edit an international fashion publication, it’s just so great for my community.

KJ: That’s a lasting legacy—it’s historic. I can’t wait to see what else you’ve done.

HD: I can’t wait to see what else I’m doing too, cause this pandemic needs to stop! [laughs].

NS: Obviously you’re both in industries that really rely on a lot of travel and showmanship and an audience. How has that adjustment been for you both?

KJ: For me, we went from doing proper shows to digital. I didn’t want anyone to get sick from working, that was for sure. You have to really just go with the flow. It must be harder for Honey, because you need that reaction! I get that reaction a few times a year, you’re like that virtually every night!

HD: That instant connection to people has been completely wiped away. Not only for DJs but every live artist that relies on touring to live, and not just financially, but for sustenance as an artist. I highly doubt someone’s going to look back at this time and say, “I had the most incredible stream of my life with my friends,” [laughs]. I didn’t stream for a long time because I have a problem with everything being so consumed. And in today’s age, most people don’t want to pay for art, they don’t want to pay for music, they don’t want to pay for movies and so, it was a constant struggle: how do I stay modern as a musician without having it be so consumable and disposable? Because clubs—these are where people meet life partners and have life-changing experiences and make memories that last forever.

KJ: I have a lot of information in my house, which has made it fine for me to do research for my collections, because I’m working on about six at the moment. Fendi is actually quite a hard brand to research because there’s not so many books on it. The Italian Vogue archive is amazing but trying to do research in lockdown. . . I’m missing Tokyo; I’m missing going to places that make me think in different ways.

HD: It’s really hard as a musician too. When I was in London earlier this year, I went to some jazz clubs. Hearing different music in different environments or going to hear different DJs. . . it’s really difficult because you can’t push music forward or your art forward from a bubble. To feel the bass or to see how other people’s bodies react to different frequencies in music, you just can’t get that in front of a fucking computer looking at YouTube.

KJ: And also with loud music, you hear different parts of the music. And I like music loud.

HD: I love music loud. I like everything loud [laughs]. Except loud people.

NS: Honey, is there a favorite outfit of Kim’s that you’ve worn?

HD: I can tell you a favorite thing that Kim has gifted me and there’s only one that exists in the world. When we did the Supreme show, he made me a Louis Vuitton 12-inch record bag. And I remember when Helmut Lang did one for Frankie Knuckles back in the day. So, the fact that I have my own—because I was super envious that Frankie had one from Helmut Lang that he had made at Vuitton—Kim made me one. It has a red handle, and it’s my most treasured thing.

NS: Being friends all these years, is their specific stuff you go to each other for?

KJ: Anything, anything, anything that has to do with life.

HD: Ditto.

KJ: It’s weird the lives that we live, and it’s good to have other people who live the same lives that you can talk to. I’m very proud of everything I’ve achieved in my life and I’m proud of everything Honey has achieved in her life. We’ve both overcome a lot of stuff. Honey has dealt with a lot more as I always tell her, and I think that it’s a support network. And that’s really important to me.

HD: It’s just pure friendship. And trust. honest, pure friendship, which is priceless. We go to each other for friendship. And comfort. And support. And love.

Everything You Need to Know About The 2021 Met Gala And Costume Institute Exhibition

“Though today is the first Monday in May, we are not rolling out the red carpet on the front steps,” says the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Marina Kellen French Director Max Hollein. But that doesn’t preclude the release of exciting new information about the Costume Institute’s two-part 2021 exhibit “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” and “In America: An Anthology of Fashion.” Hollein was joined by Eva Chen of Instagram and Andrew Bolton, the Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, this morning at a virtual press conference that revealed all the details about the upcoming exhibits and galas.

Part one of the exhibition, “A Lexicon of Fashion,” will open September 18 at the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Met, marking the Costume Institute’s 75th anniversary. An intimate gala to celebrate the exhibit’s opening will take place on September 13, cochaired by Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Amanda Gorman, and Naomi Osaka with honorary chairs Tom Ford, Instagram’s Adam Mosseri, and Anna Wintour. The exhibit will be organized to resemble a home, with intersecting walls and rooms that will establish what Bolton calls “a new vocabulary that’s more relevant and more reflective of the times in which we’re living.”

“Traditionally American fashion has been described in terms of the American tenets of simplicity, practicality, and functionality. Fashion’s more emotional qualities have tended to be reserved for more European fashion,” Bolton says. “In part one we’ll be reconsidering this perception by reestablishing a modern lexicon of fashion based on the emotional qualities of dress.” The many rooms in this part of the exhibit will be titled to reflect the personal and emotional relationship we have to fashion: “Well-Being” for the kitchen galleries, “Aspiration” for the office, and “Trust,” the living room, for example.

In pushing the human connections to our clothes, Bolton is writing a new history of American style that focuses less on sportswear and Seventh Avenue dressmakers, instead framing designers as creators, innovators, and artists. “Taken together these qualities will compromise a modern vocabulary of American fashion that prioritizes values, emotions, and sentiments over the sportswear principles of realism, rationalism, and pragmatism,” he says. Pieces from Christopher John Rogers, Sterling Ruby, Conner Ives, Prabal Gurung, and Andre Walker feature in part one of the exhibition. Ruby’s Veil Flag, a short film presented at Paris Fashion Week, was recreated at the Met, and its central piece, a denim American flag, will open the show. Director Melina Matsoukas will also create a film for the exhibit that will evolve over the course of its run.

Part two, “An Anthology of Fashion,” will open May 5, 2022, in the period rooms of the museum’s American Wing. In this, it’s a natural coda to the museum’s trio of in situ Costume Institute exhibits that began with 2004’s Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the 18th Century held in the French period rooms and 2006’s AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion set in the English period rooms. “In its conceptualization, part two actually preceded part one and actually inspired and informed it. For many years now we’ve been examining our collection to uncover hidden or untold stories with a view to complicating or problematizing monolithic interpretations of fashion. Our intention for part two is to bring these stories together in an anthology that challenges perceived histories and offers alternative readings of American fashion,” Bolton explains.

He and the museum’s curatorial team will work with American film directors to create cinematic scenes within each room that depict a different history of American fashion. Pieces from the midcentury couturier Ann Lowe and Stephen Burrows will feature in part two of the exhibition. “Key themes will include the emergence of an identifiable American style and the rise of the named designer with an individual aesthetic vision,” says Bolton. A second Met Gala will take place on May 2, 2022, to mark the opening of An Anthology of American Fashion. The exhibit will run through September 5, 2022, and is made possible by Instagram and with support from Condé Nast.

“For me, this past year confirmed what I’ve been thinking already—that American fashion is undergoing another renaissance,” Bolton says. We’ll see the fruits of fashion’s rebirth at the Met.

You Aren’t Tripping: Fungi Are Taking Over Fashion

Spring fashion is usually about florals, pastels, and maybe a tropical print here and there. But today’s trending motif is…mushrooms. They’re sprouting everywhere: on Bella Hadid’s T-shirts, embroidered on sparkly Ashish dresses, and carved from opals on Brent Neale necklaces. Mushrooms are even inspiring our homes, with mushroom mugs and lawn sculptures trending on TikTok and cremini-shaped desk lamps fetching thousands on 1stdibs. A vintage Murano will cost you a month’s rent, but come on—it’s so cute!

For some of us, that’s reason enough to fall down the rabbit hole. Mushrooms remind us of childhood adventures in the woods, books like Alice in Wonderland, and films including Willy Wonka and Fantasia. As a print or sculpture, the shape is evocative of the natural world, but funkier and less ordinary than a flower. There’s an implied grooviness too, recalling the magic mushrooms of the 1960s and ’70s, decades that designers and 20-somethings alike can’t stop referencing.

There’s more to the story than simply aesthetics though. The health, self-care, and climate change benefits of mushrooms are uncannily relevant: Wellness obsessives are buying reishi-laced skin-care products to calm inflammation, stirring chaga into their coffee to boost immunity, and full-on tripping to treat anxiety and depression. We’ll literally be wearing our mushroom obsession once Hermès and Stella McCartney’s mushroom “leather” products—billed as low-impact alternatives to animal hides—go mainstream. (Until then, you might consider getting on the wait list for Eden Power Corp’s bucket hat, made from a single—enormous!—amadou mushroom.)

Much of our interest in mushrooms can be chalked up to a desire to reconnect with the outside world, a natural reaction after our year in lockdown. But in my opinion, the story isn’t really mushrooms at all—it’s mycelium. Stay with me here: Mycelium is the underground network of thread-like branches growing beneath mushrooms and fungi, connecting every living plant and tree and facilitating the exchange of nutrients, breaking down decaying matter, regenerating the earth, and even sequestering carbon. It’s now understood that mycelium helps plants and trees “communicate” and support each other; in the documentary Fantastic Fungi, mycelium is aptly described as nature’s internet, or the “wood wide web.” It’s just as vast: For every step we take, there’s roughly 300 miles of mycelium stretching below the surface.

Mycelium has been used to clean up oil spills and could even become a new, biodegradable construction material. But it’s mycelium’s more poetic story of harmony, connection, and balance that could really transform how we live on earth—and it’s what’s resonating most with designers. “[It’s an idea that] especially touched me,” Iris van Herpen said in January, “because I think the last year has been, for me, and I guess all of us, [one] of isolation and separation. And of course it’s really beautiful to look at nature and how nature connects in a very similar way [to] how we communicate.”

Inspired by Merlin Sheldrake’s book Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Van Herpen’s spring 2021 couture collection was aswirl with hyphae-like embellishments and more obvious nods to mushrooms, like a fanned dress reminiscent of a chanterelle. Her fellow couturier Rahul Mishra presented his own, more literal take on fungi: His spring 2021 lineup featured minidresses comprised entirely of hand-embroidered mushrooms and flowing gowns layered to mimic shelves of fungi sprouting from trees. Cute they were not; these were unbelievably intricate, handmade works of art that most of us will never see or wear IRL. Instead, Mishra hopes they’ll inspire us to rethink our relationship with the outside world and let nature guide our decisions. “Mushrooms create rebirth in a real sense,” he said. “They’re a masterpiece of engineering all on their own.”