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Teeth, tits, and tinsel
Courtesy of Chopova Lowena

Teeth, tits and tinsel: how a lowly festive trim turned fashion treasure

From Loewe and Chopova Lowena, to Vaquera and Molly Goddard, designers are swaddling models in twinkling swags of tinsel

Old Ebeneezer Anderson is trundling across the city as the faint sound of a brass band begins to swell. Ruddy-nosed revellers spill out of candle-lit taverns and vats of mulled wine fill the streets with hot guffs of fragrant steam. A church bell tolls, and a little donkey clip-clops through a foggy, cobblestone muse. “Oranges and lemons, governor?” a plucky young pickpocket pipes up, his feet rustling away amongst garlands of tinsel. It was there, in that (very real) moment that Anderson decided he would repurpose these chintzy, festive trims into footwear for the fashion-deprived, calling on a séance of other designers to do the same. 

Where most people observe the holiday season in a spangled bodycon or some kind of heinous, novelty jumper adorned with LED baubles, these designers simply stepped into Hobbycraft and decided to express themselves. The fruits of their labour emerged across the AW22 and SS23 seasons, where tinsel-like textures bristled from all manner of clothing – running the gamut of shaggy mules at Loewe, whiskered vests and balaclavas made by Chopova Lowena and Vaquera, and Molly Goddard’s (quite elfen) beanies. This isn’t wholly new – Maison Margiela, Gareth Pugh, Valentino, JW Anderson, Balmain, and Prada have all textiled their wares in twinkling strands of Christmas cheer – but it does compound a sillier, slightly more irreverent attitude that’s surfaced across the recent collections.

On the runway, the pandemic seemed to stir certain questions about the point and purpose of fashion. From his paper cut-outs of lockdown, Anderson is one of the many designers who’ve leaned full tilt into absurdism, reckoning with form and function, clothing and waste. Consider all the balloon-strewn heels, the iPad coats, or the buttery leather macs festooned in hairbands, lighters, and other bits of handbag debris. When so much of contemporary fashion is an exercise in asceticism – a Clean Girl hangover from Phoebe Philo’s tenure at Céline and the mainstreaming of Scandinavian furniture, probably – a pair of tinsel-toed clodhoppers is a hot jolt into mayhem. Not sterile and self-serious, but weird and waggish in a way that somehow manages to still feel cerebral… unlike the usual Christmas attire. 

Sometimes weird clothing can just look stupid, especially to people outside the fashion industry. But returning home for Christmas is – first and foremost – an opportunity to confound your simple friends and family with all the fashion capital you’ve happened to acquire since you last visited. You want to wrap yourself in big swags of tinsel till you’re blue in the face and have them say “Gosh, how sustainable of you! Did they teach you that at CSM?” The commingling of the strange and the luxurious is at the heart of what makes this kind of stuff appealing, because the clothes impart a real sense of joy – like the merry chorus of carabiner kilts, trousers, and body jewellery that jangled through Chopova Lowena’s SS23 show. Think of it as the yuletide equivalent of Kim Kardashian encasing her entire body in Balenciaga’s caution tape.

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