New Faces, Bodies for Victoria's Secret... And More Fashion News
There's a 2003 fashion moment happening here that you won't want to miss.
This is the second (still free) edition of Back Row, all the fashion news you need to know, some you don’t, and — this week (only?) — a big shirtless 18-year-old photo of Justin Timberlake. Happy Friday!
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Well, Victoria’s Secret Has Come a Long Way
Victoria’s Secret is trying to recast itself as a brand for everyone, instead of, you know, this:
To that end, it’s hiring “brand friends” for the Chinese market, reports Business of Fashion, including Yang Tianzhen, the talent agent who is known for being vocal about body confidence.
Over the past few years, Victoria’s Secret has been the subject of bad press for fat-shaming, sexual harassment, and missing trends, like light and airy bralettes that are the opposite of those bras that push breasts up to the gods and have the same rigidity of vinyl siding. Victoria’s Secret’s Instagram images have featured notably more diverse skin tones and body types recently, especially leading up to Mother’s Day:
It’s a 180 for the brand, which once expected models to hide their pregnancies on the runway or, if they were post-partum, any physical evidence that they had birthed children. When I asked model Doutzen Kroes backstage at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show a decade ago after she had a baby if she would have walked the show pregnant, she said:
“No, because then it’s the wrong message. Then it’s like, they’re not a maternity brand, you know? And I think you can look very sexy in lingerie and be pregnant. My husband loved me when I was pregnant. But there’s always people that it would turn off, so I think it’s good to stay away from that. I think Victoria’s Secret’s already doing a great job for supporting us and to let us have babies. There’s so many brands that would not."
To be fair, Kroes seemed to be doing her best to speak in the context of brand steward, and Victoria’s Secret wasn’t then stewarding the notion that all bodies and even slightly lower breasts are beautiful.
The marketing shift is overdue. However, sales figures suggest it’s unclear if new paid brand friends are translating to paying brand friends:
Will Fashion Shows Be Exciting Again? Yes.
Tom Ford is one of few designers for whom the location of his fashion show actually matters. And apparently he’s gotten that whole “showing in L.A. because I’m Tom Ford and you’re not” thing (which: fair) out of his system.
He’s bringing his collection back to New York for Fashion Week this September. This is probably an attempt, as our CFDA president, to lead the effort to imbue our shows with more relevancy. Joining him in a return to NYC are two other American stars, Altuzarra and Thom Browne. Post-pandemic, the shows will probably be stuffed to the gills with people thrilled to flaunt their #streetstyle and be tightly packed with a group of strangers. Last year, Sergio Hudson staged his first show in New York a month before the pandemic, but told the New York Times he “pretty much made no sales for the season.” He is hopeful for better business this September.
But Los Angeles might be justified in telling Ford not to let its big pink Instagram wall hit his ass on the way out, because Alessandro Michele has decided to stage Gucci’s first cruise runway show in L.A. on November 3. Michele led the pandemic-era rebuttal to the fashion calendar last year, when he said he was abandoning “the worn-out ritual of seasonalities and shows to regain a new cadence, closer to my expressive call.” He declared, “We will meet just twice a year, to share the chapters of a new story.”
But some of the most exciting fashion show news this week is Pyer Moss showing couture in Paris in July. Houses with slots on the official couture calendar are approved and certified by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, who gorgeously uses his collections to make statements about issues like police brutality, is the first Black American designer invited by couture’s governing body to show.
The rules of what makes couture couture have changed over time, but the term is legally protected in France (which is why Schiaparelli used to have to show a demi-couture collection until it earned the right to drop the “demi”).
Obviously the fashion system — the organization of shows at set times and in set places each year — isn’t perfect, but perhaps it doesn’t need to be completely torn down. If the system and those who thrive in it are going to change, maybe it’s the rules that need to be rewritten — and new people invited to make them.
Queen Has Excellent Fashion Moment
Queen Elizabeth executed her first public duty following Prince Phillip’s death. She opened Parliament (as one does) wearing a blue-and-yellow floral dress and coordinating coat, punched up with aquamarine and diamond brooches. The brooches were given to her by her parents, King George VI and the Queen Mother, when she turned 18. The Queen, 95, wears these gems often, usually on one shoulder, one above the other. The outfit – ever the frugal monarch, she – is also a repeat. The Queen previously wore it to the Royal Ascot in 2019. Do enjoy the photos at the Daily Mail.
Other accessories included the usual – sensible low-heeled pumps, white gloves, and the modest black handbag. Very much not a part of her look was a face mask. Thus the Queen and her joyous twinkling brooches become a hopeful symbol for a brighter, mask-free future.
New Denim Trends Really Just Fuel for Out-of-Control Generational Flame War
We know skinny jeans are on the way out. We also know that mom jeans and other styles of looser-legged jeans are increasingly popular. Everyone who has ever laid eyes on a Vetements runway slideshow is probably like, “…so?” But the Washington Post is here to inform us that shifting jeans styles have become the stuff of TikTok-based attacks between Millennials and Gen Z, in addition to a “Jean War” in stores, which are more interested in stocking the styles younger people like than older people. That means skinny jeans are on their way to looking as dated as this 2003 Rolling Stone cover of Justin Timberlake:
Dawnn Karen, a “fashion psychologist” (dream job), told the paper, “Thirty-somethings are trying to hold on to what those skinny jeans represented pre-pandemic: A time when they were at their peak, when they knew what was coming next and there wasn’t all of this uncertainty.”
Forever 21 CEO Daniel Kulle said sales of mom jeans picked up at the beginning of the year. “The fashionistas are going for ‘the mom’ and the flare,” he said, adding, “I wouldn’t say the skinny is completely dead.” Well, unlike our post-pandemic souls, at least our jeans are partially alive.
The Teen Vogue Mess Seems to Have Been Resolved
Teen Vogue, after that enormous mess, has a new editor. Her name is Versha Sharma and she joins from NowThis, where she oversaw news and culture coverage. Anna Wintour said, “Versha is a natural leader with a global perspective and deep understanding of local trends and issues — from politics and activism to culture and fashion — and their importance to our audience.”
Re: that mess, Sharma said, “I don’t really feel it’s my place to comment on that. All I can say is I share the values of the Teen Vogue staff and audience, and I’m very excited to work with them and work together moving forward.”
And now we can all go back to thinking about Teen Vogue the same amount we did in February and free up that brain real estate for, oh I don’t know, things to do with lip liner on our about-to-be-mask-free faces.
I discovered this week that you can buy bandage dresses for your child. These are filed in the “toddler girl dresses” section of Bloomingdale’s and in the “night dresses tween” section of the brand’s site. It’s entirely unclear how your children are supposed to style these, but my gut says a ruffle sock might not quite go.