The standards of beauty set by Michelangelo and da Vinci may have shaped society’s understanding of the ‘ideal body’ for the best part of 600 years, but fashion designers now appear to be hawking yet another unrealistic expectation – travelling further into the recesses of Greco-Roman culture and casting the centaur as a new symbol of thoroughbred sexuality. It is no longer enough to be athletic, lean, skinny! Fashion fans must sprout an extra pair of legs, hooves, and a big ol’ buccaneering tail.
Over the past year, we have seen Adam Driver sprinting towards the sea in a Burberry campaign, his body metamorphosing into a broad-chested, half-man-half-horse figure. Then there was Julia Fox in a pair of fallopian fit trousers, her deltoid waistband and bulbous joints inspired by the musculature of a carthorse’s legs. It was a moment rivalled only by Bella Hadid who emerged as a CGI Pegasus in the precursor to Mugler’s SS21 collection. Then there was Alan Crocetti, who debuted his AW22 collection on the back of a elfin-eared stallion, his body shoved into a four-legged, tailored tux. These aren’t just the kind of preppy horse girls that fashion has become in thrall to over recent seasons, but actual horse-girls.
It goes further than all those models galloping horseback onto Chanel’s couture runway back in January or even Jacquemus leading an alabaster horse down his SS16 catwalk. It has now become clear that fashion is undergoing some kind of deeply spiritual equine alliance, chiming with pop culture’s general lean into the preternatural. Think Eartheater, covered in genitalia-like snails, the severed head of Arca that spooked guests at Shayne Oliver’s recent fashion show, the kind of freaky stuff that Lotta Volkova might post to Instagram, like that horse that was cruelly Photoshopped into the Miu Miu set, and just about anything Grimes does.
Regardless of the exact origin of the centaur, these creatures entered into Greek mythology as feral and excitable half-bloods – reminiscent of Collina Strada’s anamorphic AW21 show. They weren’t evil or anything, just branded as uncivilised by ancient standards, which is probably something to do with the Vibe Shift. All this is to say: Mr Tumnus x Balenciaga when???