Fall 2021 Is All About Skiwear
Getty Images; Miu Miu/Johnny Dufort; Browne: Emma Louise Swanson
Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.
As the wheel of quarantine leisure spins, so goes fashion. Over the course of a year of pandemic life, we’ve cycled through 365 days’ worth of trendy pursuits (remember TikTok dances and bread baking, with their accompanying uniforms of tie-dyed sweats?) and style has followed suit. Gorpcore, already a fashion mainstay, shifted into high gear as so many cooped-up quarantiners turned to hiking as a pastime, and Gucci and Margiela’s partnerships with The North Face offered hypebeast pieces tailor-made for a trek. Tennis, too, regained its cachet this past summer, with the fashion set taking to the courts in retro-chic gear. And now, it seems that it’s skiing’s moment in the proverbial sun, as the fall 2021 collections tapped into winter’s most popular socially distanced sport.
But rather than focus on performance-based athleisure technology, designers seemed to be channeling the ’60’s chalet glamour of films like The Pink Panther and Downhill Racer, or the glamorous (and bygone) Gstaad getaways of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor. You could see it in the nostalgic ski sweaters at Balenciaga and Chanel. And then, of course, there was the iconic Adam Driver and Lady Gaga moment from the filming of House of Gucci that launched a thousand memes: Driver in ski pants and a white sweater that felt like the ’70’s turtlenecked cousin to Chris Evans’s Knives Out look, and Gaga in a snowy fur Dr. Zhivago hat, casually dripping with jewels. In another shot from the filming, Ms. Germanotta sports a bright scarlet ski suit.
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A few designers took things more literally, turning the mountain into a bona fide runway. Miu Miu held a fashion show slopeside in the Dolomites dubbed “Miu Miu Mountain Club,” its It Girl-ready designs shimmering against the snow. Miuccia Prada brought a high-altitude party-girl exuberance with fluffy Moon Boots, glamorous elbow-length gloves, and caps that fastened under the chin, a tad reminiscent of Hepburn’s look in Charade.
Thom Browne enlisted skier Lindsey Vonn for a fashion film that showcased his stately down-filled creations while tapping into the romanticism of the sport. The clip opens with an illustration of an adorable Alpine village, chyroned as “the most angelical and fantastical dream.” Then the flaxen-braided Olympic gold medalist skis her way through the show, slaloming past models in Browne’s ingenious wintry mix of evening- and winter-wear.
It isn’t just skiing’s newfound popularity that’s driving this trend. As all forms of evening glamour have evaporated, those who would normally find themselves at galas are in sweatpants and athleisure like the rest of us. As gowns molder in storage, the logo ski suit has become fashion’s new lift ticket to glamour. The slopes are one of the remaining provinces of the old-school romance of dressing up, whether it’s a onesie from Perfect Moment or the recently launched line Halfday, or a full look from Chanel’s Coco Neige line. Influencers who used to post pictures of themselves infinity-poolside are now drawn to cold-weather style statements: Bella Hadid hit the slopes in Aspen earlier this year in a puffer from her beloved Chrome Hearts, while Giovanna Engelbert, the creative director of Swarovski, Instagrammed her Swarovski-bedecked Moon Boots in one shot and a puffy yellow Moncler ensemble in another.
Unlike the somewhat more egalitarian world of hiking, skiing is, admittedly, a privileged pursuit with big-ticket entry fees. These kinds of photo ops are one way to telegraph conspicuous leisure in the guise of pursuing a sport and a connection to nature, which certainly plays into their appeal. When it comes to fashion’s one percent, serving Clouds of Sils Maria realness right now feels less tone-deaf than taking a selfie on a private jet.
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