Footnotes on Pandemic Fashion

Want to dive further into this month’s theme? We’ve compiled a list of resources to enjoy over the weekend, from podcasts to virtual fashion shows.

1. Besides the JW Anderson cardigan, many of Harry Styles’ other looks made headlines during the pandemic – from the ball gown he wore on the cover of Vogue’s December issue to his signature pearl necklaces, frill collars, feather boas and extravagant Gucci suits. Styles’ androgynous outfits are symptomatic of a wider movement in fashion towards more gender neutral styles, which accelerated during Covid-19. In an article on men wearing skirts, The Guardian wrote that ‘the pandemic has unshackled men from their dress codes’. 

2. Virtual fashion shows were already well on their way before the pandemic, but as Covid-19 forced most fashion weeks to go digital, the genre really took off. Virtual shows come in different shapes and sizes nowadays, from narrative fashion films set in the ‘real’ world to immersive 3D environments. The virtual graduation show of the MA Fashion Design students at Central Saint Martins combines these formats: walking through a mystical, computer-rendered space, the visitor can browse different rooms to find photos and video clips of the graduation collections. Designer Duran Lantink’s recent show video, directed by studio Formatsandmechanisms, is another example. It comments on the changing relation between humans and technology. Drones accompany the models along a runway, set in a Dutch palace. Carrying lights and cameras, they serve both as stage and as audience. 

3. In Covid Mom: A Year in Five Garments, published by The Fashion Studies Journal, writer and editor Laura Snelgrove documents five garments that defined her style as a pandemic-era working mother. She introduces the ‘mom hack’ fanny pack that holds her and her kids’ face masks, and the big practical jumpsuit which she lovingly names Claudine. Through this visual wardrobe diary Snelgrove weaves her experience of motherhood during lockdown. 

4. Beneath the surface of magazine covers, shows and wardrobes, Covid-19 has had a drastic impact on the fashion industry. In this podcast by radio station NPR, host Sam Sanders and fashion critic Robin Givhan discuss the consequences of the pandemic on the fashion ecosystem, as consumers, brands and stores decided to ‘slow it down’ by buying less and cutting out collections. In another podcast by Business of Fashion (also available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts) editor Sarah Kent talks with labour rights advocates Ayesha Barenblat, Ritu Sethi and Anannya Bhattacharjee about the deteriorating position of garment makers – and the pandemic as an opportunity for systemic change. 

5. Finally, some of the best examples of how to reuse face masks (rather than discarding them). American artists Heidi Hankaniemi and Adrian Wilson turned them into a matching suit and dress to perform in their own mask-wearing awareness campaign. A Dutch lady stitched her worn face masks together to form an evening gown, which she wore on the day she got her vaccination. However, singer Shingai Shoniwa was ahead of the crowd when she appeared in a dress made out of face masks, by Indian designers Alpana & Neeraj, at a film premiere in 2011.

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