Step aside, Miley Cyrus. On Friday, just two days after Cyrus made a surprise appearance on the runway at Marc Jacobs, Lena Dunham upstaged her by leading the finale at 16Arlington, one of the first fall 2020 shows of London Fashion Week. Named after the address of their first studio in London, the designers Federica Cavenati and Marco Capaldo launched their label in September 2017. It’s been racking up celebrity fans—Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, and Lizzo among them—ever since, and was behind Dunham’s eye-catching red marabou and orange sequined ensemble at Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood’s London premiere last year.
Dunham announced that she would be getting to “experience” London Fashion Week earlier this week, though no one seems to have expected that she'd make her first-ever runway appearance. “While I haven’t necessarily been hailed as a fashion icon (that’s the cute way to put it), I am obsessed with clothes,” the 33-year-old actor-director wrote on Instagram. “As our chosen leader Rihanna once said, ‘I actually have had the pleasure of a fluctuating body type,’ and that doesn’t always lend itself to the doors of fashion opening wide,” she continued. “People have a lot of rules about how girls with flesh should dress (and, let’s be real, rules about how every type of woman should dress—it’s exhausting).”
But there have been “some incredible and warmly inclusive designers” who’ve made looks for Dunham and, as she put it, her “Spanx free stomach, which is almost as wide as my hips because that’s one way a woman’s body can look.” She cited 16Arlington as among those designers—as well as quite a few houses it’s almost impossible to imagine dressing Dunham today. (Hedi Slimane dressed her for the Time 100 Gala, and Prada for the Emmy Awards, once—circa when Dunham, who has been vocal about how much happier she’s been since gaining weight, was experiencing “impossible pain” related to her body image.)
Dunham has done her fair share of modeling, booking lingerie and swimwear campaigns, but it wasn’t until Friday that she took on the runway, wearing a leather-topped, one-sleeve cocktail dress. “For us it’s about working with women who really inspire us on a daily basis, and what sets these girls apart is that they’re all doing something positive in the world and changing it for the better,” Capaldo told the Evening Standard backstage. “She’s really passionate about fashion but has fun with it—and that’s how we feel about it too,” he said of Dunham, adding that they also share a love of dogs.