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Collina Strada 2020: Finally, Someone Made a Fashion Week Video That Feels Like a Ketamine Trip on a Farm!

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We’re decidedly not digital fashion week haters over at GQ, but many of the video presentations have been a little…tasteful. You know: the camera caressing a beige knit while a totally intense part of a Bach partita plays… Some guy talking about pinch pots and craftsmanship… It’s all very beautiful, but it gets a little stale.

So imagine my excitement when Collina Strada, creators of downtown environmentalist club kid clothes headed by Hillary Taymour, released a video for New York Fashion Week designed to disturb. Finally! A brand made a fashion video that feels like a ketamine trip on a farm! It was chaotic, pretty psycho, and rivals Hermès (I know!) for the most atmospheric video of this strange fashion season so far.

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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada
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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada

“Change Is Cute,” as it was called, was a mad-hatter blend of real and CGI, a raucous romp through an imagined farm world where models walked between upright cows twirling and geese waddling as a doll-like CGI creature led the way. It was chaotic, and pretty psycho. The soundtrack was a song about taking global warming seriously, with a charmingly annoying refrain—“I wear Collina Stra-a-a-da!”—done in electronica and pop punk variations. As for the clothes: the baggy pants and the sexy-dorky tops all your favorite indie brands are doing right now, covered in tripped-out Memphis waves, or scatters of late ’90s raver smiley faces, plus a healthy offering of the brand’s signature tie-dyed slouchy hoodie with the asymmetrical hem. (Oddly, it was one of the only shows I saw that included masks, though as Taymour told me in August, making masks basically saved their business, so she’s savvy to promote hers.) This collection lacked some of the ritzy pizzazz that made me fall in love with Collina Strada—the droopy-chic gowns made out of silk created from old rose petals, or crystal-embellished low-rise velour pants. A handful of pieces in a pistachio-green fruit print were the best, because the combination of her raver shapes and the Old Masters-inspired print was just funkier, less expected.

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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada
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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada

But the video was the triumph here, showing that the format can really be a creative expression for brands willing to put in the effort. Taymour told me that making the nearly 12-minute clip would have cost more than staging a fashion show, had it not been for the posse of friends who came together to do the work gratis. With that in mind, it may not be a replicable phenomenon. (And it may not be repeated, either: Taymour is a fashion show devotee anyways. “Because I’m a psycho!” she offered as an excuse). But it’s something for other brands to look at. Not everyone can have Nick Knight direct his magnum opus, as Maison Margiela did, or send a giant beautiful keepsake box packed with goods evoking the collection’s atmosphere, like Jonathan Anderson did for Loewe. And not everyone is a tasteful brand with unlimited access to spaces paneled in blonde wood, or whatever! Sometimes the psycho-video approach is the right one.

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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada
Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human and Person
Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada

But the video was the triumph here, showing that the format can really be a creative expression for brands willing to put in the effort. Taymour told me that making the nearly 12-minute clip would have cost more than staging a fashion show, had it not been for the posse of friends who came together to do the work gratis. With that in mind, it may not be a replicable phenomenon. (And it may not be repeated, either: Taymour is a fashion show devotee anyways. “Because I’m a psycho!” she offered as an excuse). But it’s something for other brands to look at. Not everyone can have Nick Knight direct his magnum opus, as Maison Margiela did, or send a giant beautiful keepsake box packed with goods evoking the collection’s atmosphere, like Jonathan Anderson did for Loewe. And not everyone is a tasteful brand with unlimited access to spaces paneled in blonde wood, or whatever! Sometimes the psycho-video approach is the right one.

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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada
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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada
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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada
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Courtesy of Charlie Engman for Collina Strada

Admittedly, the almost-all-digital New York Fashion Week has felt more whimper than bang. A lot of that is because the big dogs, like Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, and The Row, are skipping this season, which is both the smart move (why force it?) and the brave one (skipping a whole season in the middle of a fashion crisis is no joke!). Tom Ford was one of the few marquee designers to drop a collection, with a lookbook that served as the unofficial finale to the week, a place usually held by Jacobs. Admittedly Ford kind of had to show a collection—being the chairman of the CFDA and all, he’s gotta be a good sport. But I’m also really glad that he did, because it really seems that Ford is at the top of his game when it comes to menswear. His last few collections have been uncharacteristically loose, and even weird—I still think about how he tailored his pants in the Fall 2020 collection to replicate the way he used to loop a piece of leather through just the two front belt loops of his pants, and then there was that banger show in L.A. right before the pandemic, with those jewel-tone pajama pants paired with blazers. He just seems really relaxed and maybe even a little wild right now, which is major for a guy who still stands for immaculate grooming and tailored perfection.

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Tom Ford Spring 2021 MenswearCourtesy of Tom Ford
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Tom Ford Spring 2021 MenswearCourtesy of Tom Ford
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Tom Ford Spring 2021 MenswearCourtesy of Tom Ford

Ford said in his press release that he wanted some escapism for this collection, and looked to the well-celebrated denizens of ’70s Paris and New York, when Donna Jordan and Loulou de la Falaise were traipsing around in silk and hot pants with Yves Saint Laurent. (Check out The Beautiful Fall for more—the best fashion read of your life!) Reaching for escapism right now risks seeming out of touch, but instead this collection was just…so…fucking…extra! Ford’s offering was stuffed with prints that reminded me of the work of the late designer Ken Scott: loud and busy flowered pieces that were a uniform for the ’60s and ’70s jetset. Ford brought them to life in a purple and black hibiscus robe coat over violet silk trousers, super-pale pinks paired with peachy surf prints, and a leopard-print polo half stuffed into a suit. It was easy and sleazy. Ford, like Collina Strada’s Taymour, knows that we want a bit of escapism. Crucially, he knows that it doesn’t have to be pretty and puffy. In 2020, the grimier and greasier, the better!

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