Christian Cowan Recreates The Iconic NYC Party Scene In His Fall/Winter 2021 Short Film
"Celebratory, bright and fun."
"Celebratory, bright and fun."
Text: Valerie Stepanova
As someone who is known for the glitz, glamour and pizzazz that can be clearly traced his collections and shows, British designer Christian Cowan found a way to showcase his Fall/Winter 2021 collection through a socially-distanced tale that still sees the community prevail — despite all of the odds. He just had to.
While quarantining at his home studio in London and daydreaming about the Roaring '20s coming back around once lockdown ease and the time of worldwide social distancing becomes history, the eccentric designer put in motion a celebration of connectedness and optimism that responds to the world around us. Entitled "A Fashion Thing", the feminine-centric scripted film sees the collection debut and evokes connectedness and optimism through technology, fantasy, and festivity.
"It's fun to have the creative opportunity to do something super different in film format," Cowan told us over a Zoom interview before the official release. "This season, I wanted to explore doing a scripted piece of content — it's something that we've never done before and as a fashion brand, we kind of had no idea how to put together a project like this. It was really interesting."
Set in the iconic Pierre Hotel and under the direction of Matthew Frost, the film portrays a glamourous affair featuring a collective of party people in a story where there are no boundaries for fun, emulating the heartbeat of the forever-iconic party scene of New York City. In essence, it's a projection of a return of those Roaring (Post-Pandemic) the '20s that Cowan has been imagining in his head all throughout, where newfound freedom of self-expression is driven by glamour and a desire to feel fabulous. The short video features a star-studded cast that includes A-listers, brand fans, and drag queens like Paris Hilston, Justine Skye, Aquaria, and Mermaid, as well as an impressive cast of SNL (Saturday Night Live) actors including Chloe Fineman and Bowen Yang — and we soon find out, there is a reason for that, too.
"We were lucky enough to be able to collaborate with the writers for Saturday Night Live and to use the stars of it, too," Cowan explained. "That was such an honor because to me, that's the most quintessential New York production, SNL is like a legendary part of New York — so to have that in this New York-themed video was great."
For him, connection is paramount; and with the pandemic forcing everyone to adapt to a new way of working, many people — including maestro Cowan himself — discovered this newfound love for technology and hi-tech gadgets. Building upon that, the designer continued his collaboration with the Motorola razr — an early aughts icon that has since been reinvented as a smart flip phone. The iconic device was reinvented in a crystallized version and presented as the fashionable tech accessory connecting partygoers to each other throughout the film. The designer recently debuted an entire collection of chic micro purses to perfectly fit the device, so this seemed like an entirely natural fit.
"I haven't been in the U.S. for about a year, so it's very bizarre to put together a connection without ever being in the room of the collection," Cowan recalls. "But I mean, it's a testament to the modern-day technology and the amazing team that I'm lucky to be working with. It's all from afar and it's our second season working this way; hopefully, there isn't another season like that to come."
As for the collection itself, it was as chic as always (Cowan's signature), though a little bit more subdued and 'easy' and 'effortless' than the usual offerings on the Christian Cowan menu: oversized feathered hats and Swarovski-encrusted pieces stand side by side with baby pink hoodie-and-legging looks (hi there, Juicy Couture), draped separates and lacey accents. Take some fun and add a dash of refinement and gravitas to it — think sequined suits, structured blazer dresses, gold chain details, and leather dresses embellished with gold studs. The entire collection just reads as an elevated round-up of the label's best party pieces, as eccentric as they are effortless to wear, all spiced up with Cowan’s high-octane aesthetic.
This Fall/Winter 2021 collection also sees a continuation of Cowan's partnership with the Loveland Foundation — an initiative that seeks to bring opportunity and healing to communities of color, and especially to Black women and girls — meaning that the fund is going to be made permanent and all the proceeds will continue to benefit the young Black queer community in Atlanta. Confidentially, the designer is also gearing up to release a very special collaborative collection for Pride — but he's not going to give away too much here just yet.
"I'm actually planning on releasing like a collection between seasons," Cowan said. "I don't want to give away more but basically, I want to release a Pride collection and do this big celebration around it. Those are kind of my plans for the immediate future."