New York’s Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Eckhaus Latta launched their spring-summer 2022 collections last moth durig NYFW. Over the past few years, they have been called “emerging designer” and now embrace a body positivity which speaks to Gen Z: equality and inclusion. We explored a trend that is here to stay.
Maryam Nassir Zdeh, Eckhaus Lata, and Vaquera held shows in New York. They featured models walking down the runway with their skin exposed: their breasts, chests, and thighs were either bare or covered by delicate see-through fabric. Styles were far removed from the porn-chic era or the sexualized bodies of the noughties. Feriel Karoui, a trends consultant, says that skin is used as a fabric and not for inappropriate unmasking.
Although the idea of showing more skin may not be on the streets anytime soon, it is a strong representation of values close to Gen Z and Millennials. Karoui says that the younger generation is “usually at the center of cultural shifts.” She adds, “We’re speaking about sensuality and liberation, empowerment, and emancipation.”
These are topics she didn’t want us to address right after #metoo. In a less formal era, we talked more about our relationships with women, seduction and body consciousness. We are more concerned with self-affirmation than being sexualized, and it’s more about showing parts of our bodies.
Gender codes are a key factor in how we present ourselves. Teenagers have been asking these questions over the years, mostly via social media. Eckhaus Latta, Vaquera and others have always included no-gender in their experimental DNA. These brands have been leaders in the fight for social change. Vincent Gregoire, Nelly Rodi’s inspiration chief, says that they prefer “real talk”.
The three brands’ spring-summer 2022 shows showed that exposing a naked body was progressive. Both men and women had their legs, breasts, and chests bare. Eckaus Latta offered masculine silhouettes in knitted mini-shorts and open and cut out tank tops. Maryam Nassir Zadeh wore shirts that were exposed to the chest. All wore cotton and silk pieces and flowy silk shirts.
Transparency was used to emphasize a non-conformist and genderless wardrobe, even though models were not allowed to walk down the runway without their skin covered. For a gender neutral look, the men of Eckhaus Latta wore delicate tops or trousers that were close to womenswear. At Vaquera, see-through bras were worn to create a gender-neutral look.
Vaquera wanted to show its models’ subversive side, so it made them walk in a hurry. This was a way to say that they are definitely in a rush for destruction of preconceived codes. In a Cheatsheet Magazine interview, Jaden Smith, an actor, pointed out that even though there is a more genderless wardrobe on the runway it still makes sense for young boys to wear a skirt at school. According to the Critical Pulse, a man wearing a skirt or dress can be associated with a LGBTQ+ stereotype. This is not what these men want.
It seems this season may just want to be a symbol of freedom, a way to embrace the post-lockdown months. Karoui says on the phone, “We’re deconfining our bodies.” Irony? It’s not so ironic. Eckaus Latta, the designer of his spring-summer 2022 collection, explained to Vogue Italia that his goal was to “feel like ourselves”, to get out of the past and feel confident, free and sexy.