When I awoke this morning bleary-eyed, I opened my phone to see I was tagged in a photo from the fall 2021 Blumarine show by a Vogue colleague. He commented, “@liana_ava is that you?” below a photo of a model in a cropped pink woven knit with a fur collar. Her earrings were fist-size and crafted from the same fur. Underneath, the model wore the teeniest bandeau rose-print top with a lace trim. The pink of the pieces made me think of chewed-up Bubble Yum—so sweet!—and also took me straight back to high school, when I dressed in a bootleg incarnation of those looks. The jeans were impossibly low-slung and covered with prints of flowers. The belt was dusty pink and had a hulking gem-encrusted butterfly pendant, hanging over the pants as a useless, gorgeous adornment. I was instantly in love. As the designer, Nicola Brognano, said in an unapologetic quote to the Vogue reviewer: “My Blumarine is more dirty, bitchy, sexier.” Sign me up.
The collection instantly made me miss the excessive fashion of the aughts—all those ridiculous, thoughtless clothes. That’s not to say that the Blumarine collection was thoughtless. (It was styled by Lotta Volkova, who has a sharp and knowing eye for the cheeky and surreal.) But the collection is certainly designed for the purpose of looking, well, hot. The clothes were rooted in the early 2000s, with Brognano citing Britney Spears and Paris Hilton as influences. It was a more chaotic time for fashion—all excess, all kitsch, all flashy glamour—but it felt simpler, in the sense that sex came served on a platter in the form of midriff-baring peel-them-off jeans and cleavage-heavy going-out tops. The style doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking about or unpacking, which is something I can certainly appreciate right now.
Before the pandemic, I was growing somewhat tired of my noughties obsession. I realized I was getting older, and I could no longer walk in the office in a top with “Paris” written in rhinestones. So I pared back my wardrobe. I had adopted a subtly sexy shiva look: all black with a sliver of stomach here and there. Big whoop! Then, during the pandemic, I’ve been going through a rotation of spandex and going pantless with a nice shirt here and there for whatever Zoom I had. Pathetic!
But after seeing Blumarine earlier today, I immediately felt the urge to unleash the most outrageous noughties-inspired pieces in my wardrobe—and it feels strangely timely. For better or worse, Britney Spears is back in the press, with her iconic looks of yesteryear getting plenty of airtime. Paris Hilton walked around in a Juicy Couture look a few months ago, right after her moment in Kim Kardashian’s velour sweatsuit Skims look book. The noughties are creeping back. I’ve personally been transfixed by Jennifer Lopez’s now-defunct Sweetface label. “Boleros were whipped up in lambskin and fox,” wrote director of Global Vogue Runway Nicole Phelps of the tacky-fabulous brand back in 2005. Sounds hot. And besides, when the future is so uncertain, why not delve into a really, really luxe past?
Perhaps it just comes down to the fact I miss dressing up, and seeing Blumarine unleashed this latent carnal wish to express myself sartorially, like a volcano ready to explode with animal prints. So today, I slipped on my most flamboyant Jean Paul Gaultier cropped jean jacket, and wore it with a pair of Sherris pants, which have the power to give someone’s ass a walking Brazilian butt lift. It reminded me of a chilly summer night out in Brighton Beach with friends, dressed head to toe in luxuriously freaky looks that I couldn’t be caught in any suburb wearing. I can feel that day coming closer and closer—and, well, that’s something to look forward to. So for that, Blumarine, thank you.