Practically Nothing

If little is worn and clothes matter not, is there fashion? Or, will we have another word?

Julia Fox in Alexander Wang out grocery shopping. Photo: Rachpoot.com/Splashnews.com

We call ourselves a fashion blog. But more and more there is treasured little left to write. Fashion is reduced to a veritable nothing. Increasingly, there is more skin shown by wearers than cloth. Fabrics are inconveniences, hindrances, barriers, and, if their use necessary, too opaque. Little bits are a lot simpler. Pasties are easier to design and produce than brassieres! A narrow bandage has more potential than a full-form bandeau. Once-upon-a-time-private parts are no longer completely undisclosed. Free the nipple is very near reality. In fact, if what are worn by many well-followed stars are to be noted, clothing as we know it—with the fundamental purpose of covering (which is sounding oddly dated)—would no longer have a future, or, if we were to be more hopeful, a dim one.

A recent photo of Julia Fox—in head-to-toe Alexander Wang from his recent autumn/winter 2022 presentation—shared online truly made us realise that there is nothing we can say about her clothes: She was not wearing much; she was basically in underwear. Is this fashion? Or, has fashion come to this? Her fans would say she was not entirely nude (she has, of course, worn a lot less). There was the denim blazer, but was that even a jacket worth talking about? Or should we compliment how destructed and crappy it looked? Or that she was carrying a beautiful jurse (jeans-as-purse!)? Ms Fox has, of course, mostly dressed (admittedly, a poor choice of word) like that since she came to public attention for her brief, for-all-to-see affair with Kanye West. And that’s the daunting and unnerving prospect: the near-nudity is here to stay.

As one fashion designer told us when we showed him Ms Fox’s photo, “I am thinking, since so many pop and film stars are flashing themselves for the world, they have, naturally, created a new normal. The public, who looks up to them, will think, if their favorite stars can do it, so can they.” But the question is still unanswered: Is it fashion? The designer replied indignantly, “Of course not, not to me. It is purely styling; it is not Gaultier doing innerwear as outerwear!” A follower of SOTD, who formerly worked for a luxury brand, agreed. She said, “It’s just ludicrous and I think these women wear such rubbish on purpose to get attention. It’s really looney bins and not fashion at all—their own invention of fashion and the press lapped it up.”

“It is purely styling; it is not Gautier doing innerwear as outerwear!”

We have, indeed, been wondering, too: Has the media encouraged this stripping (not merely revealing)? For every star baring herself—from Doja Cat in gold pasties under mere chiffon at the Billboard Music Awards two days ago to Kim K in nude bra and panty for Sports Illustrated’s current swimsuit issue—the press gleefully say they “rock” or—our extreme peeve—“stun”. If readers needed to be told that a certain actress or singer in close to nothing astounds, they already know she is not predisposed to, without the without. She needs the costume of a stripper. In fact, when she “stuns”, there’s a good chance she is as bare-skinned or as bare-breasted as it is legally possible. And that she is satisfying her (insatiable?) hunger for attention than fashion.

The press not negating the lewdness once associated with strip clubs is operating within present-day necessity: The imperative embrace of inclusivity, now considered conducting oneself in a conscionable manner. Julia Fox in a narrow strip of fabric across her chest must be accorded equal opportunity to raves as Thilda Swinton in Haider Ackermann. Inclusivity is so compulsory in the business of fashion, as well as among adopters of fashion, that the unattired can be free of disapproval. Criticism is unacceptable because it would be shaming. We can’t say Ms Fox isn’t dressed for she can, as we are often reminded, wear whatever she wants, or omit. All women can, including the expectant. There is so little to say about what is worn these days since hardly any is; it’s no wonder more columns go to sneakers or meta-clothes.

To be certain, we are no prudes. Scanty dress as desirable dress is so omnipresent that anything that does not, in fact, amount to a dress is hardly terribleness of epic proportion. One fashion writer told us, “Nudity, in a post-OnlyFans world, is not sin, it’s just skin. Skimpy clothes is the future. Designers now need to go to school to learn how to make barely-clothes, but we may have soon another word for ‘fashion’. How about unfashion?” Come to think of it, un is a prefix of profound relevance. It’s skimpy too! Just two letters, yet with such descriptive power. So much of fashion today can be described with the simple un and so effectively: unattired, unclothed, undressed, unclad, uncover, unravel, untie, unline, unfuse unzip, unpick, unpin, untack, unsew, unseam, unseemly, unsuited, unfixed, unveiled, unfolded, unfurled, unrolled, untidy, and, of course, underwear and undies. Oh, for sure, unlovely and, definitely, underwhelming.

And This Is Miu Miu?

Rihanna does not need to mimick no runway look. She can, as we have been repeatedly told, wear anything she wants, however she desires, modest or not—mostly not

Rihanna, out for the night, scantily clad, again. Photo: Backgrid

In the duration of her internationally-viewed-and-followed pregnancy, Robyn Rihanna Fenty has exposed more of her body than the average expectant woman. But Ms Fenty, as we have been made aware, is not an average woman or mother-to-be. So whatever she has worn (or not) isn’t standard either, or maternity wear. Her visible stomach is the focal point of most of her outfits, from the first trimester to the present. The outers, if worn, do not provide cover either. Even if you follow the growth of her baby bump, it may not mean it grows on you. Not many women are comfortable putting their enceinte body in near-full display. Ms Fenty has not only been at ease; she has been eager too. And that, for many COVID-era societies of the West, is admirable, if not exactly imitable.

Such as the above look she adopted two days ago when she went out with A$AP Rocky to have dinner at their favourite restaurant, Giorgio Baldi, in Santa Monica. On social media, so many said she looked “wonderful” or “beautiful”, but no one said they wanted to dress like her. At a glance, it should have been an immediately recognisable ensemble, but Ms Fenty has taken considerable liberties with it and a double take would possibly be necessary to identify the brand. She would not wear something as it was intended (to begin with, she picked regular RTW pieces, nothing, as she vowed, from the “maternity aisle”). So this Miu Miu two-piece, part of the current spring/summer collection that is much loved, was given a Rihanna remake (she is, after all, a fashion designer!): The skirt was lobbed off to shorten it. And she dispensed with Miu Miu inner wear for—presumably—her own Fenty undies. The genius here is making Miu Miu as un-Miu Miu as possible.

Adut Akech on the runway in the same Miu Miu outfit for spring/summer 2022. Photo: Gorurway

Media reports were all raves and more raves: “Rihanna Bra & Skirt Set… Deserves All The Fire Emojis”, “Stuns In See-Through Set”, and our favourite—from Vogue—“One For The Record Books”. Some choice words excited journalists used included “glamorous”, “inspiring”, “incredible”, “style-forward”, “effortless”. The beauty of all this worship is that the goddess is, fashion-wise, faultless. Even if there was discernible wardrobe malfunction. Fans and journalists alike noticed her body glitter, her tattoos, even the linea nigra, but no one mentioned one exposure: In some photographs of her in the silvery crystal mesh top (and matching customised-to-be-mini skirt), part of her left nipple could be seen above the top edge of her brassiere that appeared to have slipped down on that side (it isn’t known why her bra was so loose). Or was that insouciant slide part of what Vogue euphemistically called the “risqué look”?

Just because the Miu Miu set appeared fetching on the model (in this case, Adut Akech), on the runway, it does not automatically mean the outfit would look good on the rest of us. Ms Fenty is, of course, a determined woman. Not to be told what maternity clothes are, or not, she is happy to break all rules (is there any rule in her rule book?) and go the opposite way by not covering a—not just the—large part of her body. It is possible that she was emboldened by the frequent rhapsodising of the press and social media. The more she revealed, the more she was lauded and encouraged. The reciprocal flaunts even gained her a Vogue cover. There was really no need to hold back. It is said that Rihanna’s pregnancy is important to expectant women—she empowers them, to the extent that she needs to be immortalised with a marble statue of her pregnant self sitting in the Metropolitan Museum of New York, among priceless antiquities of stone. If any pregnancy can be this powerful—and political?—and public, it would be Rihanna’s.

Gilded, Filtered, Twisted

As usual, attendees of the latest Met Gala stayed away from the theme as far as possible, or as abstrusely. From Gwen Stefani’s fluorescent pouf to Katy Perry’s black-swathe-on-white-mini-skirt, most were rather off the track, er, carpet. And the most anticipated guest came unexpectedly understated

Officially a couple, Pete Davidson and Kim Kardashian. Photo: AP News

It has often been said: All that glitter is not necessarily gold. Similarly, all that is gilded is not necessarily glamour. Sure, the Met Gala, specifically the show that is the red carpet, will have you believe that this year’s theme, Gilded Glamour, will be a showcase of stars all aureate and alluring, and not one bit absurd. Fashion and prosperity are all there for the green of envy to overshadow the gold of excess. Ironically, this abundance was not truly the case back during The Gilded Age (approximately 1870—1900), from which the Met derived this year’s theme. Historians will concur that The Gilded Age, from Mark Twain’s 1873 book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today (co-written with Charles Dudley Warner), was used to disparage a time that was largely two sided: materialistic excesses on one and extreme poverty on the other. The Met Gala red carpet flaunt, of course, has never been a live history lesson.

According to Vogue, “Guests will be serving up their theatrical takes on white-tie dressing”. Theatrical is the operative word, but this year, the curtain was not fully raised, and the drama was not altogether fleshed out. Some even looked like stage hands enjoying the kindness of the costumer. “White-tie” really only applied to the men. The “fashion bible” quoted Anna Wintour saying, “What’s wonderful about the Met is that people feel very fearless.” Yet, Ms Wintour herself is, as usual, not quite the intrepid one. As the mastermind of this theatre, she appeared more like a wealthy patron on opening night than its marquee star. Or, rousing rebel. She is, of course, never a fashion radical, seeking safety in the deeply familiar—Chanel couture, and, this year, in a silhouette/look very identical to what she wore back in 2019. Still, attendees must abide by her bidding: set the scene, theatrically. As Ciara said later, “If you are not doing drama, why are you at the Met?”

References to the theatre aside, the Met Gala has more to do with films. Movie stars were also the more visible ones. The Met Gala is often referred to as the Oscars of fashion, and perhaps they aim to be. The presentation opened with host, former MTV VJ La La Anthony (in a body wrap of a LaQuan Smith dress and a ridiculous and distracting hat), speaking to the cast of the film Elvis. No one spoke at length about fashion or the theme of the night, instead they plugged the movie. So did Venus Williams, who wore a Chloe pantsuit and spoke about King Richard, the film based on her family, which won one public slapper an Academy Award. But there was no stage here and none of the evening’s hosts cracked a semblance of a joke. The evening was very safe, in more ways than one.

Quick Change

Blake Lively in two looks, Photos: Getty Images

Vogue says, “There’s a reason why Blake Lively is one of the Met Gala’s co-hosts this year. She never fails to wow on the red carpet.” And also why she keeps getting asked to come back. Ms Lively is no Tilda Swinton, and her “wow” attracts less fashion folks than those shopping for a prom dress. Yet, she has been the embodiment of the dressed-up Met turn-out. This year, she bettered herself with a change of look that simply involved the (assisted) releasing of a massive bow affixed to her hip. The Versace Atelier dress, inspired by the architecture of New York and engineering feat, the Statue of Liberty, as Ms Lively said, went from mostly copper bling to the bluish-green that the metal becomes when oxidation strikes, at a mere unfurling of that bow. Despite the quick-change finesse, modernity, as usual, escaped her.

Jordan Roth in two looks. Photos: Getty Images

But Blake Lively would be outdone. Theatre producer Jordan Roth may not be really known on our red dot, but after this Met Gala, he may be well remembered. Mr Roth, who has appeared mostly on-theme in past Met Galas, showed up in a Gothic Thom Browne construct: On top, a quirky black coat that appeared to be made to resemble a misshapen stereo speaker, complete with what could be the cone and diaphragm! At one point, he allowed the tented outer to slip down his lithe body, and it became a floor-length skirt. Then he stepped out of it, and that top-turned-bottom just sat there, waiting for the wearer’s re-entry! Was it a decompression chamber of sort as well?

Gold Slips

Golden girls. Khloe Kardashian, Kim Kardashian, and Sara Sampaio. Photos: Shutterstock, Getty Images, and Shutterstock respectively

Frankly, Kim Kardashian’s appearance—she was the last to hit the red carpet—was a much-larger-than-anyone’s-dress disappointment. After last year’s face-and-body-obscuring, red-carpet-negating anti-fashion of Balenciaga’s making, her subtle gold slip was not quite the daring we associate with her. Donning the Jean-Louis dress that Marilyn Monroe wore to sing Happy Birthday to President John F. Kennedy in 1962 was not a major reveal either, since the press had already reported, three days ago, that she spied the piece at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! museum in Orlando, Florida. And was determined to wear it, so much so that she revealed on the red carpet to La La Anthony that she had to lose 16 pounds (or 7.25kg) by totally avoiding sugar and carbs to get into it. Excited fans called it an “iconic” dress. On Ms Monroe at that time, it was; on the SKIMS creator for the duration she was on the red carpet, it wasn’t.

Curiously, sister Khloe Kardashian, a Met Gala first-timer (“following years of snubs”), wore a gold Moschino dress that looked similar to the elder sibling’s. And just as sheer. It is not known if the sisters (all of them, including the matriarch Kris Jenner, were there) discussed earlier what would be worn, but it was revealed that the ex-Mrs West was ensconced in a “secret” dressing room, even when, by then, her dress was not so hush-hush anymore. On the same beat, too, was the Portuguese model Sara Sampaio, in a slinky Michael Kors, with cut-outs to reveal her taut waist, making the Kardashian sisters look unnaturally and uncharacteristically conservative.

Brighter Brights

The bright brigade: Sebastian Stan, Gwen Stefani, Kiki Layne. Photos: Getty Images

It is hard to link neon with the gilded, but there it was—a blindingly bright green. It is not, however, J Balvin’s hair we are referring to, but the two-piece gown Gwen Stefani chose. A Vera Wang creation, it came with a cautiously shaped bra-top, as if to prevent the insecurity that afflicted Nicki Minaj. If there was one colour that kept popping up through the night, it was hot pink: SZA in Vivienne Westwood, actresses Kiki Layne and Ashley Park in Prabal Gurung, model Anok Yai in Michael Kors, and the many more Anna Wintour would no doubt know. But it was the Valentino pink of the brand’s recent season that appeared repetitive: Sebastian Stan (white tie, really?), Jenna Ortega (with leggings!), Glenn Close (escorted by Pierpaolo Piccioli), and Nicola Peltz (escorted by her husband Brooklyn Beckham). Fortunately, the Met decorators did not go with a fuchsia carpet this year.

Wedding Whites

Walking down the aisle or red carpet? Kylie Jenner, Miranda Kerr, Emma Stone. Photos: Getty Images

It’s always baffling when women appearing on a red carpet would want to look like a bride. Or, in the case of Emma Stone, a bridesmaid or flower girl. Ms Stone is often quite a red carpet eye candy, even if she is not usually a standout. But this time, afraid of outshining the brides (how did she know there would be at least one?), she chose a bland Louis Vuitton slip. Because conspicuous had to be Kylie Jenner? The cosmetic mogul wore her friend, the late Virgil Abloh’s work for Off-White: a bridal number with a bustier-dress over a sheer T-shirt. Really. Perhaps this was a bride off to a Calabasas wedding? And what about Miranda Kerr? Her Oscar de la Renta princess-bride dress was all audition-ready for the next Disney movie.

Falling Bustiers

Nicki Minaj and Nicole Peltz Beckham. Photos: Shutterstock

They did not amount to a wardrobe malfunction (at least not on the red carpet), but they looked uncomfortable, and they made for uncomfortable viewing. Nicki Minaj’s boobs appeared so very on the verge of popping out with every pose, at every turn that it was a wonder she had not screamed by the time she reached the top of the stairs. She revealed to La La Anthony that the reason she had to yank her Burberry dress up was “because they made the cup size a little too small”. Even that massive belt, presumably to keep the bodice up, was of no help. No idea why, even with the fact of the misfortune, she would not find something else to wear. Nicole Peltz was moderately better off. The newly-minted Mrs Beckham had on a sheer Valentino dress, with a scooped bustier neckline that was similar to model Quannah Chasinghorse’s by the largely jewellery-focused Antelope Women Designs. Although the former stayed more or less in place, it looked threateningly collapsible. Unsurprising that she clung on to her husband Brooklyn. Might she have worn a safer dress if her mother-in-law made it?

Heads Wrapped

Janelle Monae, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Precious Lee, Lily Aldridge. Photos: Getty Images

Just in case someone cracked an ill-placed GI Jane joke? Or was the air-conditioning in the museum too strong? The choice to have the head wrapped is an odd one. Both Janelle Monae and Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, in Ralph Lauren and Moschino respectively, wore rather similar-looking gowns, with halter necks and fitted, decorated hoods. Hard to say if they were inspired by synchronised swimmers or Joan of Arc. Interestingly, Ms Monae, while choosing to conceal her hair, did not hide her underarm tuft, confirming that such exposure is a very real trend, on the red carpet too. She confidently described her look as “gilded glamour from the future”. Precious Lee, in Althuzara, was on the contrary, more of the present; she did, in fact, look like the minute she ditched the sheer frock, she’d join a swim team. And then there was Lily Aldridge, dressed by her friend Cate Holstein of the “classic American sportswear” brand Khaite. Ms Aldridge sported a crystal embellished babushka to match her dress-and-train. Whether that was a statement pertaining to women of a certain nation at war with a neighbour, it was hard to say.

Oh, No!

Their own thing. (Clockwise from top left): Tommy Dorfman, Conan Gray, Odell Beckham Jr., Joe Jonas, Evan Mock, Cara Delevingne. Photos: Getty Images

It is never easy to guess why people choose to wear what they wear. After all, fashion consumers are encouraged to dress as they please, sans constraints personal or societal. So, we won’t start a worst-dresses list. Still, it has to be said that it’s ridiculous to wear a massive, floor-length puffer coat to a gala, as Gigi Hadid, in Versace, did, but is it not even worse to go rather topless to an event that celebrates clothes? Cara Delevingne wore something we can’t quite make out: did she even have anything on, other than body paint and large pasties, and the surprisingly modest Dior pants? Those who did not dare bare that much, chose cut-outs, such as Tommy Dorfman’s Christopher Kane dress with a bodice full of holes. And if you must feel cloth on your skin, but the nipples must not be completely obscured, perhaps Conan Gray, in a Valentino shirt-and-cape, had something going for him? Did he and Ms Hadid receive the same invite?

It is understandable that sports people want the ultimate comfort in what they wear to the point that even on the red carpet, they can’t part with what’s familiar to them. American footballer Odell Beckham Jr brought field side to museum steps in a Cactus Plant Flea Market velvet hoodie, made more expensive-looking with massive amount of jewellery. Joe Jonas, brother of Nick, pinched some poor bride’s (another one?) lace veil to lengthen his cropped Louis Vuitton jacket, leaving him looking neither bride nor groom. The most curious of the night is a suit of very un-evening persuasion. Model/actor/skateboarder Evan Mock wore one by Head of State. It has a cropped jacket with a scooped front that ended in the middle, above the crotch, shaped like a stomacher. Perhaps, he and Gigi Hadid received the same invite. Both of them had that torso-lengthening extension.

Fashion First

Standouts (clockwise from top left): Isabelle Boemeke, Renate Reinsve, Louisa Jacobson, Emma Chamberlain, Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Christine Baranski. Photos: Getty Images

Thankfully there were those who tried harder. And they were the proverbial palate-cleansers. Brazilian model Isabelle Boemeke wore a delightful Noir Kei Ninomiya gilet and dress that were equal parts hardcore Goth and romantic flou. Norwegian actress Renate Reinsve looked statuesque in a cropped Louis Vuitton top that could have been a pair of soften cathedral roofs draped over her shoulders. Star of HBO’s The Gilded Age Louisa Jacobson (an ideal invitee?), in Schiaparelli Couture, redefined the mermaid gown with one that was sheer and with the tail of tulle cropped to the level of her shin. Also redefining the ages—Gilded?—was Emma Chamberlain in a very cropped Miu Miu-esque cream Louis Vuitton jacket and a clean-lined white skirt.

Taking a more androgenous route was Christine Baranski in Thom Browne. Under her sequinned caped-jacket was a white corset-shirt that possibility tempered the sum effect of what could have been a tad too masculine, too white-tie. Conversely, the most bo chap (don’t care) look, but with incredible attitude was Aussie actor Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Bottega Veneta white shirt-and ‘jeans’ (in leather!) combo that saluted the influential American style invention Casual Friday. But something extra did not: Red opera gloves! Now, there is there a touch of glamour, even if not gilded.

Update (4 May 2022, 9.20am): As it turned out, Emma Stone actually wore something from her own wedding! According to Louis Vuitton, the house “specially designed (the dress) for her wedding after-party”

This Sweatpants Had A Korean DJ “Kicked Off” A Flight

Even when no skin of her abdominal or limps were revealed. But the bottom she wore was considered by the airline to be “offensive”

Warning: This post contains image and words that some viewers may find offensive

South Korean disc jockey and music-maker Deejay Soda shared on Instagram, two days ago, with 4.3 million of her followers (in two separate posts) that she was booted out of a flight from New York to Los Angeles. She wrote—not quite effervescently—in English (as well as Korean) that American Airlines “kicked (her) off the flight and harassed (her) to take off (her) sponsored @RIPNDIP ‘F**K YOU’ sweatpants in front of people to board again.” The DJ, whose passport registered Hwang So-hee, is currently in the US on part of her coast-to-coast Starlight Tour. According to her, the airline staff told her that the free sweatpants she wore were “inappropriate“ and “offensive”. At some point, she stood “half-naked” in the presence of others.

As she said, the bottom in question was sponsored by Ripndip, an Orlando-born skate brand, available here at Well Bred. In black cotton, the S$125 sweatpants has a white, all-over print of basically two words: “fuck you” in full caps, with a foxy feline-looking creature peeking out of some of the ‘O’s. While the bottom was sponsored, it isn’t known if she was given that particular pair to wear or if she chose it. Nor do we know if she was required to wear it onboard as part of the deal or if it was entirely her choice. Ms Hwang was in fact rather covered up, sporting the brand’s black ‘Nebulan’ hooded coach jacket under a similarly coloured T-shirt. On her feet were black-and-white Nike Jordan 1 High. This look contrasted dramatically with Ms Hwang’s usual style, as seen on IG and her new music video Cold. Sexy is truly the best, even if inadequate, word to describe her style. Only Siew Pui Yi (aka Ms Puiyi) wears moderately less.

Korean disc jockey Deejay Soda. Photo: deejaysoda/Instagram

If what the the 36-year-old DJ claimed really happened, American Airlines has considerable explaining to do. Even if Ms Hwang’s choice of trousers is “offensive”, is making her “take off (her) pants in front of the whole crew and standing half-naked” while refusing to board her, if true, not “offensive” too (some of her supporters called it “abusive”)? It is, of course, odd that in the US, where free speech is so important and anyone can say anything, including the profanity-as-repeated-pattern on Ms Hwang’s pants, having them printed on one’s garment is more abhorrent than coming out of one’s mouth. Conversely, was the passenger, even with a business class seat that she was sure to note, not aware that what she wore could be objectionable? It was not just two words; they were repeated many times. Or, was she on the same page as Whoopi Goldberg, who wrote in her book Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There?: “I would love to teach every kid to say ‘fuck’. That is a word that doesn’t have any effect. But ‘stupid’ and ‘dummy’?”

American Airline may disagree with her on that. According to their Condition of Carriage, the simple term of “bare feet or offensive clothing aren’t allowed” is stipulated. It does not, however, say what makes clothing offensive. But its staff, in making the DJ strip, spoke volumes. Would Ms Hwang’s usual boob-accentuating tops be considered incompatible with the American Airlines’ rules? We do not know. Nor, why Deejay Soda chose, assuming she did, that particular sweatpants. It might work in the dimness of her show venues, but in an airport and an aircraft, would it not draw unwarranted attention and annoy those for whom such blatant display of insouciant insolence is totally repugnant? One thing Whoopie Goldberg wrote is not wrong: It’s nuts out there.

Update (29 April 2022, 09:10): In a statement issued to the media, American Airlines wrote: “During the boarding process for American Airlines Flight 306 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, our team members informed Ms. So-hee of our policies and provided her the opportunity to change out of clothing displaying explicit language. The customer complied with requests and was allowed to continue travel, as planned, to Los Angeles International Airport”. They did not address Ms Hwang’s allegation of harassment

Product photo: Ripndip. Illustration: Just So

Shirtless Under A Suit: The Timothée Chalamet Effect

Mediacorp stars know an imitable styling idea when they see one. Applause?

Just a suit: (from left) Jarrell Huang, Desmond Tan, and Chung Kun Wah. Photos: #红星大奖2022/Instagram

By Lester Fang

It is hard to be the first. I mean to be a trend-setter. On the red carpet. At the Stars Awards. Okay, I am not going to censure what they wore last Sunday, but it is hard not to notice (or turn a blind eye to?) the trends that the clueless hosts pointed out or the fans of Mediacorp stars said they could make out. Most obvious among the guys, if you did not already detect, was going shirtless under a suit. That was so distinctly Timothée Chalamet at the Oscars last month that my first reaction—and second and third—was, “oh, no!” Could this be the reason why the annual Star Awards takes place after the Academy Awards—so that Mediacorp’s big and not-so-big names could get some sartorial ideas for their red carpet?

Local stars looking at what their Hollywood counterparts wear on the red carpet are like regular folks looking to influencers on social media to conduct their otherwise mundane lives: It happens. I am not sure, to be honest, how fashion-aware our TV stars really are (how did Elvin Ng [黄俊雄] go from last year’s Alexander McQueen to this year’s Versace is really beyond me). Or, how much they admire the style of Hollywood superstars that they feel confident enough to emulate them. Variety Tweeted shortly after the Oscars presentation, “no shirt, no problem, if your are Timothée Chalamet”. We are all aware there is no equivalent in Medicorp. There should not even be.

However, there they were: Baring their chest as Mr Chalamet did, but, reversely, in white. So excited with the prospect of seeing the barely exposed torso of everyone’s favourite actor and Bioskin Most Charismatic Artist awardee Desmond Tan (陈泂江)—shirtless under the Alexander McQueen neo-redingote with zips in front and the rear, where darts would normally be—that the highly excitable, rapid-talking co-host Seow Sin Nee (萧歆霓) squealed in delight: “我觉得你最吸引的大概是你的腹肌… 我看到了 (I feel that your most attractive [part] is probably your abdominal muscles… I see it)!” Whatever she did see, she was so gleefully pleased, it was as if she won a lottery. Unlike Mr Chalamet, Mr Tan was strategically buttoned up!

So were the other two shirtless ones: singer/songwriter Jarrell Huang (黄俊融) in a Q Menswear double-breasted, completed buttoned, and Yes 933 DJ Kenneth Chung (钟坤华) in one unnecessarily belted. They were not only covered, they were securely covered. They were in white too, as if the “colour of purity” could temper any suggestion of unwanted sexual inducement. This was, after all, family entertainment! And all of them had something in common too. Or, in common with Mr Chalamet: jewellery for the neck and sternum. Yes, if you follow suit (oops!), do so right down to the accessories. In the past, wearing a T-shirt under a blazer, as Xu Bin (徐彬) and Brandon Wong (黄炯耀) did, was considered too casual, even disrespectful. But last Sunday, just that simple extra layer was, for some, way too much.

Star Awards (2022): Still Not Shining

Away from Changi Airport, is this year’s Star Awards a better, sleeker affair? Were we hoping for too much?

Ah jie Zoe Tay, in purple silk chiffon, floating down the Walk of Fame. Photo: The Celebrity Agency/Instagram

By Ray Zhang

The Star Awards 2022 is a very long show, if you take into consideration that ‘Backstage Live’ segment, screened three and half hours before the ceremony proper on MeWatch and YouTube. At more than seven hours duration in its entirety, it was long enough for me to be on a flight to Tokyo. Since last year, MediaCorp has decided that the annual show generates enough interest to warrant extra broadcast of not only the anywhere-is-a-red-carpet segment, Walk of Fame, but also a look at the stars getting ready, presumably from around or after noon. But while the award presentation, now back at the MediaCorp Theatre, veered dangerously towards dull, it was Backstage Live that was utterly unbearable to watch, even more so than last year’s. If any glamour was to be expected, as promised by Mediacorp, all was lost in the loud, grating, uninformative banter that dominated this painful prelude.

Juvenile and boisterous, in all its youth-grassroots glory, it was as if all the hosts—all six of them—cut their teeth at a qiyue getai (七月歌台 or the ‘song stage’ of the 7th lunar month, aka Hungry Ghost Festival). When asked by hosting partner Seow Sin Nee (萧歆霓) what he liked to watch at each Star Awards, apart from the main presentation, the 1.91-metre tall Herman Keh (郭坤耀) mentioned the “红地毯 (red carpet)” because of the stars’ attire, which he referred to as “制服 (zhifu or uniform)”! And he would go on to say that at least five times more, including referring to the Hugo Boss suit that he wore as zhifu, too. And, even when later, Priscelia Chan (曾诗梅) was curious about his word choice while being interviewed by the noisy duo, he did not appear to be aware of the embarrassing faux pas.

The new-gen Channel 8 hosts: (left) “uniform”-clad Herman Keh and (right) Seow Sin Nee with resident stylist Annie Chua (middle). Screen grab: Mediacorp/YouTube

I know not if Mr Keh was on script, but bumbling and blundering his way through his set was only part of the pain in watching this segment of MediaCorp’s biggest night. When the same pair presented one of the six debut My Pick awards (for Favourite Male Show Stealer, which Xu Bin won), Ms Seow was asked “哪一个是你的pick (who is your pick)?”. She replied, “it’s all my picks”! The appalling command of both Mandarin and English on a broadcast believed to be one of the most popular for Channel 8 (the main event of last year’s show at Changi Airport shockingly won the award for Best Entertainment Special!) is embarrassing, to say the least. Later, when Mr Keh won the Most Attention-Seeking New-Gen Host, he said, “感谢我爸爸妈妈把我养成这么高 (grateful to my parents for raising me until I am so tall)“. There is a difference between “古灵精怪 (weird or bizarre, as Mr Keh described himself)” and trite. Throw in their mission to find the “female star with the highest heel” and the “guy with the tallest hair”, I knew nothing begged further viewing.

The Walk of Fame at five o’clock brought me back to the show. After last year, the struts and poses this time returned to a real but somewhat short red carpet, although it was obvious that all the stars waited behind a backdrop to emerge. No one was seen coming out of a luxury car (sponsorship was hard to score this year?). As with her appearance on the Changi Airport Terminal Four driveway of the entrance to the departure hall in 2021, Zoe Tay had to walk alone. Wearing a silk chiffon dress by Gucci with a cape that floated behind her like a parachute (I’m not sure about the curiously chunky black platforms), she commanded the red carpet like a seasoned pro, lifting nary a pinch of her floor-length skirt to navigate the Walk of Fame, while other younger actresses lifted their distended skirts as if they were avoiding dog excrement. I had to remind myself that for most of the actresses, this was probably the only chance in the entire year when they could wear an evening gown, and possibly towering heels. And since they had to return the the borrowed dresses in saleable condition, they had to content with lifting while parading to avoid an embarrassing frock-ripping, if not nasty fall.

Best actress and actor favourites Chantalle Ng and Xu Bin. Photo: The Celebrity Agency/Instagram

On the red carpet, the most anticipated, I suppose, were the My Star Bride leads Chantalle Ng (黄暄婷) and Xu Bin (徐彬). Ms Ng is the daughter of old-timer Lin Meijiao (林梅娇, winner of the evening’s Best-Supporting Actress). She wore a red, sequinned Bottega Veneta gown, which appeared a tad too large for her and clearly too long. Frequently, she had to hold one side (or both) of the dress to help her walk less uncomfortably or so that her platform compers won’t cause her to trip. Contrasting her, colour-wise (or to express some National Day fervour?), was Mr Xu in an off-white Dolce & Gabbana suit that was tackily tacked with what could be earrings, bearing the letters ‘D’ and ‘G’, all over—yes, on the pants too, without which he would be too close to an albino peacock? Mr Xu had earlier, in the Backstage Live segment, said that when he saw the suit, he knew immediately that it was the one he wanted and had instructed his stylist to get it for him. I wish someone had told him he could pass of as a window display at Chomel.

In fact, the guys seemed to have tried harder this year. Many came in suits—some of a better fit than others, many curiously semi-casual, and few down-right not dressy. Elvin Ng (黄俊雄), in a Versace suit, was the first joke of the day: he went from kedai-kopi bandung to Fanta orange. Or, was it F&N? To be sure, I don’t know if Mediacorp ever stipulated a dress code or whether it was merely a given that attendees would don evening wear, but it was unlikely that black tie, as many had thought, was expected. Still, odd choices abound: Desmond Tan (陈泂江) in a cream, zips-for-darts Alexander McQueen coat, which he wore sans shirts a la Timothée Chalamet at the Oscars (I do not know why there persists this love of substituting outerwear for a blazer at an awards night), only that the American actor did not go shirtless under a coat; Dennis Chew (周崇庆) in a cartoonish white suit, with hand-drawn tracing of the perimeter of the outfit, designed by, gasp, Chen Hanwei (陈汉玮) and made by Q Menswear; or Nick Teo’s shaggy, kungfu-master, Yohji Yamamoto layers. And those in non-solids: Romeo Tan’s Etro suit with geometric patterns gleaned from carpets, Bryan Wong’s also-Etro blazer with Savannah print (feline included), and worse, Pierre Png’s too-small, too-day-yet- too-prom-night gingham jacket.

Formalwear interpreted: (from let) James Seah, Desmond Tan, and Teo Ze Tong. Photo: The Celebrity Agency/Instagram

There were other trends among the men—possibly what Herman Keh obliviously, gleefully, and toothily called zhifu—if you consider, like I did, their omnipresence. Most discernible were the dinner jackets with peaked lapels in black (sometimes part of it) to stand out from the main fabric. At least half a dozen of them embraced this small chromatic contrast. Even Desmond Tan could not resist the pull, when he changed into a different suit for the award presentation (he was a best actor nominee). Was it to show that the stars paid attention to details? Also, the persistence of sneakers peeking out from the hem of tailored trousers (many annoyingly not altered to the wearer’s height). Is this really considered cool, even on tuxedo-clad sexagenarian Zhu Houren (朱厚任)?

But what really caught my attention were their faces, which I usually do not scrutinise (nothing surgical intervention won’t hide). I should be more specific—this year, the eyebrows or the many stars who had theirs darken or drawn to augment the density. The unnaturalness really jumped at me. Those of Jeremy Chan (田铭耀, among those who wore a tuxedo jacket with contrast-black lapels), for one, were especially intense and oddly linear and light brown, as if they were shaded with a template; they were even thicker and denser than wife Jessica Liu’s (刘子绚), as if he was trying to impress her as Zayn Malik!

The long and lean: (left and right) Cynthia Koh, and Rebecca Lim. Photos: The Celebrity Agency/Instagram. And (centre)) Joanne Peh. Screengrab: Mediacorp/YouTube

The women, in contrast, seemed more measured in their attempts to make a massive impact. I consider this year a lull year. According to Mediacorp’s principal image stylist & costume designer Annie Chua, what she prepared for 23 of the stars revolved around “old Hollywood glamour” or, if you missed it the first time, “very glamorous old Hollywood glamour”. I wonder if the emphasis was on “old”. Quan Yifeng (权怡凤) wore a front-heavy, fussy, old-looking, black (and some white) strapless number: Ms Chua may not have realised that someone’s Hari Raya valances were missing. The opposite to that dated fussiness was Sheryl Ang’s (洪丽婷) yellow Sportmax crush of fabric. Was there not a single iron in the dressing rooms of Mediacorp? And what were the opera gloves about?

In the end, it was clean lines, as well as neatness that attracted me. Although many viewers consider the actresses who could stop traffic in their manner of dress of the past to be “boring” this year, I do think that they stood out for their unfussy turn out: Cynthia Koh (许美珍) in Moshino, Joanne Peh (白薇秀) in Ralph Lauren, and, most striking, Rebecca Lim (林慧玲) in Louis Vuitton. Sure, what they wore could be the epitome of modest fashion (at least from the front), but the dresses (including special guest, Taiwanese Pets Tseng’s [曾沛慈] red Rebecca Vallance dress, I should add) communicated a certain elan and class, both of which the Star Awards still lack, in spades.

Battle Of The Bulge

Who showed off their pregnant body better? And is Alexander Wang cornering the market for sexed-up maternity wear?

Adriana Lima (left) on the recent Alexander Wang runway and Rihanna (right) in Alexander Wang on a night out in Santa Monica, in March. Photos: Alexander Wang and Backgrid respectively

The message these (still) pandemic days is clear: Show your face and, if you are pregnant, bare your belly. As the world witnesses, Rihanna is leading the way. Since announcing her pregnancy on social media in January, the Fenty mogul has been ramping it up on the fashion front, each outfit she shares online, more revealing—her baby bump more prominent—than the last. Now it seems that the ex-Victoria’s Secret Angel Adriana Lima, too, is following in the singer’s footsteps. At the Alexander Wang autumn/winter 2022 show, the five-month pregnant Ms Lima was outfitted in a dress with a large circular cutout, deliberately positioned to frame the stomach, as if to place the belly in an inset.

This is, of course, not the first time that Mr Wang has created skimpy maternity wear. Last month, the much-followed Rihanna appeared in a bespoke look that was attributed to the designer. It comprised of a sparkly, barely-there brassiere worn under an oversized leather jacket that was paired with a matching, very abbreviated skirt. The outfit, naturally, divided the world, whether among those fashion-bent or not. Highsnobiety weighed in with the headline: “I love Rihanna, but not her Alexander Wang maternity outfit”. It should be noted that the writer behind the the opinion piece did not dislike the outfit as much as the name that custom-made it for the star. Mr Wang had then still yet to entirely shake-off the scandal that beset him almost three years ago. Rihanna’s choice, therefore, held “complicated implications”.

The fashion press has called RiRi’s very public display of her stomach a “master class” in alternative maternity wear. And now that Mr Wang has sent out on his recent runway, a similar look to his choice for the Barbadian mother-to-be, is it indication that he will be the go-to designer for outfits that show off a pregnant bulge that some women now prefer to flaunt, uncovered? The two outfits we have seen so far are less (literally, too) maternity clothes than near-negligees that are worn to accommodate a pregnant woman’s changing body. Amid the boob-baring that other American labels are into, perhaps Mr Wang has found a new category of maternity wear, one that, similarly, uses less fabric than more. Would this, aided by his exhibitionistic expecting supporters, be what he needs to help his career recover—bare-skinned baby bump?

M To M, Too: “What Did She Do To Herself?”

Madonna strikes again. And no one is sure it is a good look. Again, how did she go from this… to this?

Madonna during the Grammys, then and now. Left, in February, 2015 and right, this week. Photo: Mega and TikTok respectively

“What happened to her?” was repeatedly asked in the shared posts of Madonna’s latest TikTok video, as well as in the comments that followed the release of the unexpected recording (which seems to be cut 2 of a similar video posted five days earlier). Many have described her uncharacteristic moves—rocking forward and backward to a rendition of Frozen—as “unsettling”. One Madonna fan told SOTD that “if you watch it on your smartphone and hold it close to your face, she looks scary. Worse when you can hear the sound of that kiss.” It is, to be sure, not easy to watch if you are used to the singer looking filter-altered immaculate. This could have been Madonna auditioning for Pontianak!

Interestingly, this odd video was posted on the day of the telecast of the Grammys. It appeared seven years after Madonna showed up at the same award ceremony, looking “spectacular” in Givenchy, as most fans concurred, although when it came to her exposing her derrière, the reaction to that action was “divisive”. Then and now, the difference is startling. Then she was recognisable, now barely. Sure, she did not wear much makeup on the TikTok post (the video seemed to have been shot when she was getting a tattoo on her wrist, as seen on one Instagram post shared two days ago), but surely the change can’t be that drastic? The shape of her chin has certainly altered and the lips have the expanded more than bread given a sourdough starter.

Some commentators are, conversely, defending her, saying that attacking her looks—or be shocked by her appearance—is ageism. The thing is, we’re all for Madonna doing what she wants at 63 (and we salute her for that), but it is clear to see that she is negating ageing when her face, specifically, is looking younger—more girlish, in fact—than a woman of her years. She told V magazine last year: “I don’t even think about my age, to tell you the truth.” But, she clearly did. And her social media entries suggest she does too. And many are listening. And watching. And worrying. Excuse them.

Banned (In Thailand): Lisa And Chivas

A bottle of whiskey in hand may be sexy to many, but Blackpink’s holding of a Chivas Regal is not welcome in the home of tomyam goong

This image of Lisa with a bottle in her hand (as well as others) is not welcome in Thailand. The Blackpink member in her latest advertising coup with the Scotch whiskey Chivas Regal is disallowed in the country of her birth, to the extent that circulating the said photographs on social media by fans is an offence too. Alcohol advertising is banned in Thailand, across all media, despite the country’s very own successful alcohol industry. Local news reports have been reminding would-be violators that the penalty is a fine of up to 500,000 baht (approximately S$20,260) or a year in jail, or both. Critics of the hefty punishment imposed pointed out that traffic offenders are fined no more than 1,000 baht (or about S$40). Perhaps this explains why the Chivas Regal images do not appear on Lisa’s Instagram page.

According to a Bangkok Post headline from last week, the Thai “govt warns against sharing Lisa Blackpink’s whiskey ads” (the photo used for the story was picked from the singer’s Facebook account). In addition, “the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee is considering action against people who post and share images of Blackpink superstar Lisa Manoban promoting a brand of whiskey”. They did not identify the brand. The director of this committee was assigned by the Department of Disease Control—under the Ministry of Public Health—to “investigate anyone who propagates the forbidden images on social media”. The rapper is expected back in Thailand this week, after being away for close to three years, to visit her family and to spend her birthday (she turns 25) at home. Is the authorities’ warning a reaction to her homecoming and the possible frenzy that would result? K-pop stars endorsing alcohol is not new. In fact, fellow Blackpink singer Jennie is promoting the Korean brand Chum-Churum. There is no warning by the Office of the Alcohol Control Committee of the punishment that would be meted out to Thais sharing images of Jennie holding a (much smaller) bottle of soju.

Lisa (aka Lalisa Manoban [officially spelled Manobal]) is Thai. She was born in the province of Buriram, some 300 kilometres northeast of Bangkok, that was once part of the Khmer empire. Some observers feel that she was singled out as she still holds the That passport. Local media often call her a “homegrown superstar” although she was trained in South Korea under YG Entertainment since the age of 13 and is now based in Seoul as she pursued her unstoppable entertainment career. When she was accepted at the label, she was their first non-ethnically Korean trainee. Blackpink debuted in 2016, and the band’s rise was nothing short of meteoric. She is now a solo act too, with a single Lalisa (her Thai name) launched last September, garnering more than 450 million views on YouTube to date, even when the critics’ reviews were, at best, mixed.

The Chivas Regal pair-up made Ms Manobal the whiskey brand’s “first female ambassador in Asia”. It is not known why she accepted the ambassadorship or if she was, at that time, aware of the implication that would bear out in her home country. She claims to like whiskey (calling herself a “whiskey fan” in relation to her Chivas Regal work), but she has not mention before a fondness for Thai ‘whiskey’ such as SangSom, which is popular in Buriram. While this may be her first alcohol endorsement, Ms Manobal isn’t unknown for her paid association with fashion brands. In 2020, she was singled out by the house of Celine, where she was purported to be Hedi Slimane’s muse. She soon became their “global ambassador”, and was recently photographed by Mr Slimane for the spring/summer (March 2022) issue of Pop magazine, sans lao wiski. Adoring Thai fans have that to share freely, and legally. โชคดีค่ะ

Photo: Chivas Regal

A Ban Won’t Shut Him Up

Kanye West’s use of Instagram was disallowed for 24 hours after he posted something racially insensitive. That, regretfully, won’t coax him into speaking with some vestige of grace

The Instagram ban of Kanye West for a mere full day, won’t cause the rapper to suffer much, if he suffered at all. That 24-hour ban is expired now. Mr West is probably planning his next textual attack, never mind that he was already told that what he posted about his estranged wife (they are not divorced yet!) was harassment and her boyfriend Pete Davidson, cyber bullying. And one of the persons who pointed those out, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, was hit back with a racial slur, which prompted IG to put in place that brief, hardly-a-deterrent ban, even if that post was quickly deleted by the author. Why would a mere day’s suspension of his favourite social media be enough to encourage good online behaviour for a fellow who does not care about such things, in the least?

Online, as on the streets, some people are just more entitled than others. Celebrities, especially so, as they are often given no limit to bad behaviour, online or off. Kanye West can be nasty at the Grammy’s, but who remembers? If they do, they recall with fondness. Despite his repeated attacks on not just the two major targets of the present, many fans still consider him “great”. “Great for Gap”, went one fervid support. While it is true that the disapproval of Mr West’s abusiveness has been expressed on the Gap social media pages, there are also many—far more—who ask the clothier to continue to support him: “Don’t cancel Ye”, “da best thing that ever happened to yu (sic)”, “here for Ye”, “Ye is harmless man always like that when y’all will understand him?”, the simple “we love Kanye” and the adoring “Kanye is King”.

Or, could it be possible that, in Mr West’s case, badness is good for business?

Should Gap budge? They probably won’t. Ditto for Adidas and Balenciaga, whose Demna Gvasalia is so chummy with Mr West that it is unlikely the designer would call the rapper out for his deplorable ways, or stop dressing him. Any fashion label linked to Kanye West has only fared well despite past transgressions. Just because they didn’t involve his now-single wife (they are not divorced yet!) does not mean there was no harassment targeted at women. Or, could it be possible that, in Mr West’s case, badness is good for business? Because in that package of wrongs, is an amalgam of talents? As he once said (on Sway In The Morning Radio Show, 2013), “I am Warhol! I am the number one most impactful artist of our generation. I am Shakespeare in the flesh. Walt Disney, Nike, Google.”

Delusional, some may call that, but Mr West believes in his own greatness and strengths, and has displayed them in full public view, augmenting his self-importance. All that publicness can’t escape scrutiny and being talked about, whether audibly or not. A big part of his success is that he’s discussed, whether flatteringly or otherwise. The multi-channel/platform chatter in its unfiltered, antagonistic glory is, perhaps, what Gap wants, even craves. In as much as we are living in the grasp of what author/Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff calls “surveillance capitalism”, we are also in the grip of scrutinised social existence. Kanye West may say as he pleases and get away with it, but Gap—and the rest—may not merely associate with who they please and not account for their deliberate action. Either way, we are watching. Fashion deserves better.

Update (21 March 2022, 9am): The Los Angeles Times reported that “Kanye West has been pulled off the performance lineup for the upcoming Grammy Awards due to his recent erratic online behavior”. Trevor Noah Twittered, “I said counsel Kanye not cancel Kanye.” Even the leader of his own Sunday Service needs counselling

Illustration: Just So

Two Of A Kind: Caution Tapes

Kim Kardashian was all wrapped up, in Balenciaga tape no less

Which is a crime scene? Left: Kim Kardashian. Photo: Backgrid, Right: tree. Photo: Getty Images

Why would anyone want to look like a walking crime scene or a strutting barricaded site? Sure, we are seeing less of these yellow and black strips now, especially those used as barrier tapes, since massing and mingling are allowed and, if you are masked, social distancing is not required(!). Could this be why desperate-to-be-single-again Kim Kardashian wished to make a fashion statement—no matter how uncomfortable the binding would be—since the polyethylene tape is now not often used in public? Or did she, being pandemic smart, want to catch the attention of onlookers so that her outfit could be impediment to anyone going near her, and, therefore, had the added effect of enhancing the general safety of the front row?

She may have smiled, but the body covering looks to us uncomfortable, like a kind of modern mummification. Except that this mummified being kept her face and hair—and hands—unwrapped. And from the waist down, the wrapping was thoughtfully bifurcated! Even her shoes and handbag were mummified (is that the right word to use when the process is applied to things you can’t call dead, or alive?). According to eager media reports, it was not tear-proof plastic tape (believed to be Balenciaga packing tape) on bare skin. Ms Kardashian wore something underneath that Vogue described as “an athletic top and leggings”, not underwear. We assume they were Skims. It reportedly took thirty minutes to get Ms Kardashian bandaged—all by hand, according to Balenciaga. Would that actually be faster than sewing a bodysuit and letting her wear it herself?

All photographs of her in the shiny, stuck-on, second-skin getup showed no opening on the chest or the crotch, in the rear, or on the sides. How does she relieve herself when answering nature’s inevitable call? NYT’s Vanessa Freedman helpfully informed us on Twitter that a squeaky—or “sticky tape-y”—sound was heard when she walked. Where was Kanye West? She was also heard saying, “I’m scared it’s going to rip when I sit down. Should I just let it rip?” And this is emancipation, with International Women’s Day round the corner?

Two Of A Kind: Space Suits

Why do some designers like taking the customary end-of-show bow dressed like they had just been to the moon?

Space walk: (left) John Galliano, photo: Alamy, and (right) Jeremy Scott, photo: Imaxtree

At the end of the Dior haute couture autumn/winter 2006 show, the designer at the that time, John Galliano, emerged in a space suit to bask in the adulation of the audience. What he wore could be those issued by NASA for the International Space Station although it was likely been made by the Dior atelier. Sixteen years later, Jeremy Scott too took to the Moschino autumn/winter 2022 runway days ago in a space suit that could have been a costume from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyessy. Or a red version of one of those Tintin and gang wore in Destination Moon?

John Galliano has been called the “ultimate showman”, and his end-of-show appearances at both the Dior haute couture and prêtàporter were as dramatic as what his models wore. Apart from the space suit, he has adopted pirate gear, equestrian attire, the matador’s traje de luces, and more costumes than any seasoned actor at The Old Vic. Jeremy Scott is not, as far as we are aware, predisposed to put go whole-hog fancy dress for his runway moment. Although his work for Moshino has a theatrical bent, he has not been role-playing until now. Pandemic-related stress?

According to NASA, “a spacesuit is more than clothes astronauts wear in space. The suit is really a small spacecraft. It protects the astronaut from the dangers of being outside in space.” Sure, the space around us on planet earth—in particular, personal space—is not only diminished but a dangerous one. Personal protective equipment is adopted by even those outside the medical field. But what was Jeremy Scott really guarding himself against when he was not about to disembark from Elon Musk’s Starship onto unknown planetary terrain? In all likelihood, Instagram and TickTok know.