This week marks the second New York Fashion Week to take place during Covid-19, and designers like Christian Cowan know that the novelty of staying at home has worn almost all the way off. So, he decided to put together a fashion film that embodies everything about New York that we’ve all been missing while inside and can’t wait to return to once the world opens back up again.
Opening up with a voiceover from Saturday Night Live comedians Bowen Yang and Chloe Fineman, “A Fashion Thing” is Cowan’s answer to any skeptics who don’t believe that fashion can be fun for everyone. “It features the people of New York that make people fabulous, and when it comes to comedy, SNL is the legendary statement of New York production and television,” the designer said over Zoom.
Working with director and writer Matthew Frost and musician Slayyyter on the film’s original song, Cowan put together a fashion film that is both funny and evocative of what the designer called “quintessential New York vibes.”
“Comedy has been a bit slept on by fashion,” he continued. “And a female comedian is fabulous! It’s everything I want, so why wouldn’t I dress that person? I’ve never really understood the separation between the two worlds.”
He also tapped Rachel Cargle, who, in partnership with the Loveland Foundation, collaborated with him for his Spring/Summer 2021 collection. “She’s major and can turn a look,” he said, before explaining his casting inspiration for the rest of the motley crew featured in the collection’s film and look book.
“I wanted to show everyone what my New York is, so it’s everyone from the fabulous girl in the ball scene in Harlem to Dorinda Medley from the Real Housewives,” he went on, illustrating that his vision of New York can be as eclectic as he wants it to be, as fabulous as he wants it to be, and as funny as he wants it to be, too. “I wanted all those different walks of life from all different neighborhoods of New York,” he said.
Paris Hilton, who is featured in the fashion film via Motorola razr (a partner of the brand for this fall’s collection), also just happens to be a really good friend of the designer, and was a no-brainer to include in the production. “I become friends with so many of the women who buy my clothes because the people who buy my clothes are fabulous, usually,” he said.
His goal with the collection and its subsequent film—which was created just over a week ago—was to make fashion feel accessible, in terms of both who can turn a look, and who can purchase a party dress amid the financial crisis brought on by the global pandemic. “As a party dress brand making expensive party dresses in a time where people have less money and parties are illegal, it’s like, what is the method to like go forward?” he asked. The answer, it turns out, was to speak with his customers, find out if they still want to dress up at home, and figure out more affordable manufacturing techniques to make the garments. “Instead of heavy embellishments, it’s Swarovski heat stretch transfers, which are still stretch but lower cost,” Cowan explained. “My aim is to have way more of these items around $1,000 and below. I want everyone to be able to access it, and that’s what the film conveys as well, because it parodies the fact that people often think that fashion is this thing they can’t go near.”
In terms of the actual outfits, this collection calls back to the brand’s prior pieces, incorporating chunky zips, bows, and stretchy fabrics in “new and exciting ways” so that people can find the comfort in partying from home, while also wearing a fabulous statement look. “I think this collection we’ve done is the easiest one to wear,” Cowan said. “I’ve been working on not compromising the fabulous aspect.”
If the designer could do a bit of post-pandemic soothsaying, he’d say he’s in full support of the idea that people will eventually go wild at parties in public. “I’m really stanning for the roaring twenties to happen,” he said excitedly, mentioning that he wants to partner with Susanne Bartsch to start a weekly nightclub event once it’s safe. “I really want the brand to be part of like the rejuvenation of like the nightlife and party scene of New York.”