Weekly Round-Up: Pop Culture and Fashion Moments On Our Radar

Here’s a look back at this week’s notable fashion and pop culture moments

Kanye West Unveils The Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga Collection

Kanye West together with Balenciaga’s Creative Director Demna have unveiled the first limited release of their creative partnership called Yeezy Gap, engineered by Balenciaga. Furthering Kanye’s highly anticipated creative explorations, this first drop of the Yeezy Gap collection coincided with Ye’s Donda 2 performance in Miami. The collection features eight styles that includes a denim jacket and pant, as well as tees and a hoodie—all designed with a utilitarian approach while paying homage to Gap’s “timeless American icons” while also continuing Ye’s larger approach of presenting all of his artistic endeavors in a uniquely complementary fashion.

Farhan Akhtar And Shibani Dandekar Tie The Knot

Long-time celebrity couple, Farhan Akhtar and Shibani Dandekar tied the knot last Saturday in an intimate ceremony in the former’s farmhouse in Khandala. The couple exchanged vows in presence of a few near and dear ones. Shibani Dandekar wore mermaid-style lehenga-gown in shades of red and cream from JADE by Monica and Karishma. The custom design featured a fish-cut skirt, a corset-style blouse and intricate lacework. Styled by Shaleena Nathani, Dandekar paired it up with a trailing red veil and a pair of matching sling-back heels. The outfit revealed a contemporary perspective on the traditional red wedding dress that's celebrated across the subcontinent. Farhan, on the other hand, went for a monochrome look featuring a black tuxedo designed by Govinda Mehta paired with a white lapel flower and classic black sunglasses.

Bottega Veneta To Present New Collection During Milan Fashion Week

Ahead of the Matthieu Blazy runway debut at the Milan Fashion Week, Bottega Veneta has launched an app. As described by the fashion house’s management team, it is “an open door to creativity”. The application will be updated daily and shall prepare the viewer for the next fashion show, allowing them to interact with the new collection. Four accessible screens within the app feature a countdown to the runway show, an augmented reality filter, a video of the next collection, and a final administration screen.

Angus Cloud Stars In New Ralph Lauren Fragrances Campaign

Angus Cloud, the breakout star from the second season of HBO’s hit series Euphoria, is now the face of Polo by Ralph Lauren Fragrances. Cloud will be seen starring in the brand's latest digital campaign for Ralph Lauren’s staple scents- Polo Green, Polo Red, and Polo Blue. A super-fan of the brand since his youth, Cloud appears in the campaign reminiscing on how he used to thrift colourful Ralph Lauren polo shirts. He now boasts of a collection of 200. One of the primary campaign shots features the actor sporting a Ralph Lauren collared shirt and tie, layered with a green and brown leather varsity jacket on top along with a matching fragrance in hand. The campaign also features TikTok stars Blake Gray and Sharl.

Benetton Revolutionises Metaverse Experience During Milan Fashion Week

With the Milan Fashion Week underway, United Colors of Benetton transformed its Corso Vittorio Emanuele store aligning it with the brand’s new metaverse unit, which will open at the same time with the same experiential look and feel. This new UCB store will take a different approach to am metaverse shopping experience by incorporating numerous gaming experiences that will allow shoppers to accumulate QR codes, which can then be used to make purchases in physical shops. The flagship store has also been redecorated in pink to emphasize the shades of the Benetton garments. This temporary set-up, which will feature in the store for four weeks, is accompanied by the #playchange project.

Burberry Hosts A Star-Studded Dinner Party At Rodeo Drive

Burberry hosted a dinner party last weekend at the penthouse rooftop of its Rodeo Drive flagship in Beverly Hills to celebrate its highly-anticipated in-store activation called “Animal Instinct.” The 40- person event saw the attendance of A-listers including Bella Hadid, Jacob Elordi, Brent Faiyaz, Lori Harvey, Sami Miro, etc. along with other notable faces in fashion and entertainment, across music, television and film. Bella Hadid showed up in a Burberry trench coat that featured an asymmetrical twist paired with matching khaki leggings and a cut-out semi-sheer bodysuit. She completed the look with black pointed-toe pumps and a camel-colored leather shoulder bag.

Benefit Cosmetics Ropes In Rickey Thompson As Their New Face

Rickey Thompson fronts Benefit Cosmetics' new campaign called “Brow Tales.” Rickey is a renowned actor and social media personality best known for his comedic videos on TikTok and Instagram. Exclusively available at Sephora, the all-new campaign highlights Benefit Cosmetics’ popular brow products, such as the Precisely, My Brow Pencil, and the 24-hr Brow Setter. The campaign includes a video of Rickey becoming a guardian archangel offering brow affirmations. Thompson described the campaign as a modern fairy-tale that encourages self-love and confidence, in a press statement.

Gucci Expands Its Experimental Online Space ‘Vault’

Gucci’s Creative Director Alessandro Michele is expanding the brand's experimental online space called Vault while revealing uncharted regions of luxury and multidimensional evolution from brand presentation to metaverse. Starting last week, Vault’s virtual shelves have started carrying a selection of dedicated capsule collections from brands such as Delvaux, along with vintage Gucci items as well as brand new designs handpicked by Michele. The platform seeks to continuously evolve with each additional version, expanding its offering and producing more experimental opportunities. Shoppers have to sign up to the exclusive store in order to purchase the items, with many Gucci pieces already selling out within the first day of launching.

Why Mugler’s fusion of fashion and pop culture will always be relevant

As the world grapples with the shock death of Manfred Thierry Mugler, we take stock of the late designer’s legacy through his pioneering approach to showmanship, celebrity, and fashion pageantry

Text Liam Hess

What did it mean to be a fashion designer in 1973? It was the year Manfred Thierry Mugler presented his debut collection, titled, in hindsight, somewhat modestly, Café de Paris. It was also the year five Americans landed in the city to showcase their designs at the Battle of Versailles, the legendary showdown between New York and Paris that altered the course of fashion. The French designers, with Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Cardin, Hubert de Givenchy among them, recreated their typical runway format of models wafting through the genteel first-floor salons of Parisian hôtel particuliers to a hushed soundtrack of classical strings. The Americans, including Halston, Bill Blass, and Oscar de la Renta went for bombast: a radically diverse cast that included everyone from Liza Minnelli to Warhol superstars walking a stark, minimalist stage, while strains of Al Green and the soundtrack to Kenneth Anger’s gay biker fantasia Scorpio Rising accompanied them. In the wake of the battle, it was widely accepted that the Americans had emerged victorious, staking out stateside fashion as a worthy equal to the storied traditions of the French maisons. But though it may have been the clothes that ultimately sealed the deal, in reality, it was the thrill of witnessing the Americans’ unique synthesis of style, celebrity, and spectacle that took up most of the column inches. Somewhere in his atelier in Paris, it’s easy to imagine that Mugler was carefully taking notes.

After news of Mugler’s passing broke on Sunday night, tributes poured in from around the world paying testament to his outsize influence. Few would question that Mugler was a master of his medium. His most fanciful creations were conjured up with rubber, resin, plexiglass, PVC – enough unconventional materials to make even the most resourceful Project Runway contestant break a sweat – transformed alchemically into breathtaking new forms. Mugler built a dream world all of his own, a quasi-mythical realm where freaks could be fabulous, and the fabulous could be made freaky. Everything was impeccably crafted, from the whittled waists cinched by Mr. Pearl corsets to the theatrical chrome and fibreglass Harley-Davidson breastplates that approached the realm of sculpture; the Frankensteinian mash-ups of Mardi Gras feathers and creatures from the black lagoon to the deliciously slinky velvet bodice of Demi Moore’s dress in Indecent Proposal. But Mugler also understood a broader truth about fashion, and sooner than most – that it was an industry hurtling towards an unprecedented but inevitable combustion with pop culture. In 1984, he staged his 10th-anniversary spectacular at the Zénith Paris arena, the first fashion show in history that would be open to a ticket-buying public. Models vamped to a thunderous soundtrack of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Ave Maria”, parading over 350 looks inspired by everything from sci-fi movies to Baroque religious sculpture, concluding with Pat Cleveland descending from the rafters and walking through a plume of smoke dressed in full crystal-studded Virgin Mary drag. For The Independent, journalist Marion Hume declared it “a brave, deranged declaration that fashion designers, and even ordinary mortals, need not be confined by the gravity of planet Earth.” Mugler himself told the New York Times after the show in typically gnomic terms: “'There are two ways you can do fashion shows today. Either you do it very small and private or you do this. I think the public wants it this way.”

As the supermodels rose to global fame and Hollywood A-listers began replacing models on the covers of Vogue, it quickly became clear Mugler wasn’t wrong. For his 20th anniversary ten years later, he would up the ante once again with the eye-popping pageantry of his Cirque d’Hiver show, which featured the likes of Jerry Hall swaddled in a floor-length white fur, the 61-year-old former Julie Newmar in sequins and lace, the infamous heiress and kidnapping victim Patty Hearst performing a striptease and Tippi Hedren in a sheer satin gown adorned with black birds, as an homage to her famous role in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Oh, and James Brown performing a medley of his greatest hits live, naturally. “It was pure performance art,” Jerry Hall said of the show when speaking to the New York Times in 2019. “He was still the Wizard of Oz, pulling the strings in the dark.” As Violeta Sanchez put it, having walked the show in a sculpted black gown with a cut out on the rear to reveal her buttocks: “He was like the Tarantino of fashion.” Still, Mugler’s sense of showmanship was always in service to the clothes. The elaborate sets he constructed were there to heighten the experience of witnessing these sartorial flights of fancy in the flesh, and his forward-thinking approach to casting – inviting Diana Ross to walk his runway, say, or casting the transgender models Connie Fleming and Teri Toye regularly throughout the ’90s – merely served to bring the garments even more vividly to life, to take them out of the rarefied bubble of a couture salon and into his (however flamboyant) real world. “Why would anyone only want fashion?” Mugler asked Tippi Hedren in a 2019 conversation for Interview magazine. “There are the costumes, but there’s also the environment, the lights, the moment… the music, the sets, the light, the attitudes – it all helped to tell my story. I never say I’m a fashion designer. I’ve always felt like a director, and the clothes I did were a direction of the everyday.”

Mugler’s clothes were made for those from all walks of life – or as Cathy Horyn described in the Washington Post, a Warholian blend of “socialites, peroxided Lido stars, pop singers, bouffant transvestites”. His shimmering salmon pink power shoulders outfitted David Bowie for his “Boy’s Keep Swinging” video as flawlessly as the bum-hugging leather briefs on gay porn star Jeff Stryker, or the Furby couture worn by his downtown It girl, Deee-Lite’s Lady Miss Kier, on his runways in the early 90s. “Mugler’s shows have pretty much ceased to be about fashion per se,” Horyn continued. “They are about the people who are in his shows – and in that sense, they are for the people who live for fashion.” Today, the red carpet has become a runway all of its own, at least for the kind of celebrity with enough clout to pull a piece from Mugler’s 7000-item-strong archive. Still, even for those of more limited means who still wish to indulge in the fantasy of fashion, who spent their childhoods poring over magazines and recreating them with Hobby Lobby off-cuts, Mugler remains a guiding light. It’s little wonder Mugler is among the most-referenced designers on RuPaul’s Drag Race. Mugler wasn’t the only one rethinking the format of the fashion show, but he was the one who truly blew it up, transforming it into the kind of high camp pageantry that now feels par for the course, at least for designers whose most grandiose designs need suitably theatrical settings to match. Without Mugler, there would be no Balmain Festival, no Gucci Love Parade, no starry Savage x Fenty extravaganza. You wouldn’t find Beth Ditto or Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus walking the Marc Jacobs runway, or J.Lo breaking the internet (again) in 2020 wearing that green Versace dress. He instinctively understood that fashion could hold mass appeal if you knew how to turn up the volume to just the right decibel, and how the matrix of fashion and celebrity could amplify it even further.

So too did Mugler help to shape the contemporary idea of the fashion designer as a multi-hyphenate ringleader with a 360-degree vision, an archetype with which we might now associate the late Karl Lagerfeld or, more recently, designers like Hedi Slimane and Virgil Abloh. Like Lagerfeld, Mugler was the couturier, the photographer, the spokesperson, the centre of the brand’s social orbit; even, at times, its de facto face. And with the launch of his Angel fragrance in 1992 – an olfactory shock to the system with notes of chocolate and candyfloss that was as uncompromising as his designs – his booming perfume empire was able to foot the bill for his runway spectaculars. If the modern designer was to be the maker of dreams, then a perfume would offer the most accessible slice of that fantasy, and Mugler carefully negotiated that delicate tension between commerce and creativity – until, that is, he didn’t. In 2002, he was forced to shutter his ready-to-wear line, snuffing out a legacy that could have extended many decades further, perhaps, if his signature style wasn’t lost to the tides of fashion as minimalism hit the mainstream once again. For many years, all remained quiet on the Mugler front, even as he briefly returned to the public consciousness, having reinvented himself as a hulking bodybuilder and undergone a series of plastic surgery procedures, a process he described as one of “repairing and reconstruction”. But as trend cycles do, the pendulum swung back around. A new breed of style-savvy A-listers (and, perhaps more significantly, their stylists studied in fashion history) began reviving designs from his archive on the red carpet. There was Cardi B in his 1995 “Birth of Venus” dress – an appropriate reference for a designer’s legacy rising from the ashes – attending the Grammys in 2019, then Kim Kardashian in the rotisserie chicken chic of his deliciously fleshy, figure-hugging wet look gown that she wore to the camp-themed 2019 Met Gala. An exhibition, titled Couturissime, began a global tour in Montreal the same year, offering a deeper dive into Mugler’s extraordinary archive for a new generation of fans willing to take the plunge.

How Sports and Pop Culture Intersect: Fashion in Sports (Athleisure)

Popular culture, normally recognized by the general society, describes a set of beliefs and practices that dominate and reflect the way world at that moment. Fashion plays a big part in pop culture. What brands are most popular, how people wear those brands, and which people are wearing those brands are all reflections of the culture zeitgeist. Sports are also a time stamp of where world is. From athleisure to sneakers, athletes put their stamps on the fashion industry. Which sports and athletes are the most seen by eyes on the daily? And how is this the way we see athletes as cultural figures important to the way we see them as regular people?

The Rise of Athleisure Wear

Out of all the trends rocked by athletes, one that has taken on a life of its own is athleisure. Athleisure simply put is athletic or gym clothes that are made to be worn not only for working out, but for everyday purposes as well.

This trend began picking up steam in the early 2000s with the rise of brands like Baby Phat and Sean Jean, both known for their track suits. Typical sports brands like Nike and Adidas also began to focus on track suits. Athletes specifically in the NFL and NBA rocked these fashions to their games and out in public.

This links how athletes also became people who dictate fashion culture even more than fashion brands. The idea of an influencer is slightly newer than the idea of athletes dictating fashion trends but influencing is what they did. People wanted the clothes and shoes seen on these athletes because they are the pinnacle of cool.

Sneakers and Athletes go hand in hand

A subsection of the athleisure is sneakerhead culture. Athletes not only just wear these popular sneakers but also go as far as to create their own. It is hard to talk about the progression of shoes over the past two decades and not mention Air Jordan. The brand started by Chicago Bull legend Michael Jordan completely changed the sneaker game back in the late 1980 and has only grown from there.

It makes sense that athletes, especially basketball players, have ventured into sneakers considering how that is often the only unique part of their playing uniform. There has been a substantial boom in players creating their own shoes and then endorsing themselves by wearing them on the court. Players like Lebron James, Steph Curry, and Russell Westbrook are all influential athletes in the sneaker world.

How Black Athletes Drive Fashion and Culture

Arguably the two sports that are constantly in the pop culture conversation are football and basketball. The clothes, music, and overall lifestyles of the athletes are seen as aspirational. It is no surprise that the NFL and NBA are majority Black. So much of pop culture is Black American culture. It is all about what the most popular Black entertainers in America are doing at the moments. How can people tap into that?

While it is important for representation to see athletes like Cam Newton, Kyle Kuzma, or Serena Williams in their best clothes, it also unfortunately brings the question of appropriation. The art, music, literature, and fashion created by Black people often do not get the credited it deserves. It is commodified by non-Black people for a profit.

For example, sneaker culture has completely changed over the past few years. It is now common practice for people to buy these sneakers then resell them at an even higher price. Athleisure has been taken over by high-end brands and redone to fit the “minimalistic” look that’s become popular.

Sports and Fashion are alike in the fact that people’s art and livelihoods are taken advantage of for the enjoyment of others.

Maryan Barbara
Maryan Barbara

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