collina strada's spring/summer 18 collection examined social media anxiety

Designer Hillary Taymour scrolled through trends from sporty 70s knits to early-aughts blinged-out baby tees.

by Emily Manning
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Sep 8 2017, 5:38pm

In many ways, digital communication is liberating. Technology increasingly enables us to access information, learn skills, and forge connections. But — as a new generation comes of age with iPhones five inches from their faces — Social Media Anxiety Disorder is becoming a very real thing. (According to the University of British Columbia, it's acquired when engagement with the social sphere affects the mental or physical well-being of the user). It's a frontier of freedom, but so many of us get caught up in the world wide web.

This season, Collina Strada designer Hillary Taymour explored social media's impact on fashion. "We're so overloaded with what's going on. There's so much content, content, content — we're inspired by all these things," Taymour explained backstage. That compulsive need to carve out identities, consume them, and in some cases compete with our peers online has created a new language of trendiness.

"In the fashion industry, everything has become relevant now," Taymour explained. "I can do 60s, I'm still on trend. I can do 70s, I'm still on trend. 80s, on trend." So she did them — all of them. The spring/summer 18 collection spans seven decades of iconic styles, shaped in part by how we see them through a pixelated screen. Silky handkerchief tops screamed early-aughts realness. Rhinestone-embellished chaps simultaneously brought to mind 70s disco balls and the diamanté Dior era.

And yet — in a world where absolutely everything is on the menu — what is it we all end up wearing? "T-shirts and jeans," laughed Taymour. "The collection was kind of taking the piss out of these iconic moments, but every look was kind of based around wearing jeans and a t-shirt." The five-pocket jean was refreshed in a summery 70s knit. Even more traditional dark denim styles came cuffed with a wink to memes.

This isn't to say Taymour spent the whole season traipsing through Tumblr. For a collection inspired by social media, she did some pretty old-school research. "I was in the basement at Parsons looking at slideshows with a fucking lens magnifier!" She sorted through old slides and sketches trying to create interpretations that felt true.

The final look of the show — billed in the show notes as a riff on 2020s style — was modeled by John Yuyi, an artist who engages with contemporary digital culture (and who has built a sizable Instagram following). Yuyi took to the runway with keyboard letters affixed to her face. "It's like, where do we go from here?" Taymour said of our accelerating social media culture, and the psychological impact it's making. "Everything's cool now, everything's trendy, and when will it stop?"

Both of us are stumped by that one, but Taymour's advice is simple: "You don't have to be so in front of your camera, or so worried about what everyone else is doing, or why they have so many followers, or how you need to look to get them too," she said. "Today, you can literally wear whatever the fuck you want, and you still look cool. So be your fucking self, and let's just have some fun."