Christian Cowan’s fashion shows are known for their high energy and glamour, two elements that have decreased across the global fashion industry since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Today, he unveiled his Fall Winter 2021 collection in a short film called “A Fashion Thing”—and it was everything I had hoped for and more.
Ever since I witnessed Cowan’s sparkling bow dresses in Kim Petras’ “I Don’t Want It At All” music video and editorials for Paper, I was hooked. Attending his runway show a couple years ago was like entering a fantasy world that basks in the “fashion show” stereotype—a glossy, paparazzi-filled circus where models strut with abandon to party music and A-listers command the front row. This same energy flows through all of the young designer’s collections—and even without a flashy gallery at Spring Studios, this latest offering epitomized it with the same energy
Directed by Matthew Frost, “A Fashion Thing” is set against the backdrop of The Pierre. An opening shot finds Saturday Night Live comics Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang, who are instructed to “just be yourselves” by Paris Hilton (on her pink Swarovski-covered Motorola razr phone, naturally). Though the duo hilariously ponder how to be their authentic selves, they’re quickly halted by Parker Kit Hill—and what follows is a thrilling fashion fete.
Set to the beat of a custom Slayyyter song, a diverse cast puts on a thrilling show that’s pure camp. Fineman and Yang, encouraged by Cowan’s theatrical aesthetic, emerge from a dark hall wearing purple sequined pajamas and a crystallized set, respectively. The clip treats us to pure fanfare and optimism with cameos from a range of performers. Aquaria struts in an oversized feather hat and studded blazer dress! Richie Shazam posing in hot pink crystals and matching boots atop dining room tables! Jari Jones dances through the hallways in a black and white feather coat without a care in the world! Moments of pure joy are epitomized by Justine Skye, Mermaid, Selyna Brillare, Aqua Pairos, and Hanne Gaby Odiele in an array of glittering, metallic, and studded garments. You can see that they’re enjoying themselves and the clothes—what’s not to love! There’s also a cameo from Rachel Cargle, founder of the Loveland Foundation. Cowan once again partnered with the initiative, and a portion of proceeds this season will go towards funding therapy for Black women and girls.
This film focuses on the notion that fashion is meant to be savored and enjoyed to its greatest extent; the idea that fashion can be utterly transformative and make you feel like the person you’ve always wanted to be. Here, Cowan manages to do what he does every season: no matter how dismal your day might be, it’s impossible to leave his collection reveals (IRL or virtual) without a massive smile on your face and ready to confidently take on the world.
Indeed, after watching “A Fashion Thing,” you’ll be hard-pressed to not throw on your best dress and tallest heels, swipe on some sparkly eyeshadow, and be the star of your own fashion show. Not only did “A Fashion Thing” feel like a love letter to fashion itself—a theme that’s been fairly sparse this season—but it also felt bold and fresh. I personally went upstairs and changed into my favorite printed Burberry shirt immediately after watching, feeling instantly reinvigorated.
After Fashion Week’s numerous collections that (while lovely) have hinged on comfort, minimalism or playing it safe, Cowan’s rejected all of the norms and ran wild—in thigh-high crystal heeled boots, no less.
See the full collection below: