In ‘Swarm,’ Toxic Fandom Is the Ultimate Horror
Discussions about favorite artists and albums are generally innocuous, the kind of light conversation that provides insight into a person’s tastes without revealing too much. On Swarm, the delightfully off-kilter Prime Video horror series from Janine Nabers and producer Donald Glover, the protagonist, Dre (Dominique Fishback), wields such queries like a mallet. In Dre’s world, only one answer is acceptable, and only one “artist” exists. A fan of Ni’Jah, a Beyoncé-esque pop diva who inspires near-religious devotion, she expects everyone she encounters on her cross-country crime spree to view the star with the same level of reverence—or at least keep their mouths shut on social media.
Glover knows his way around satire; many of Atlanta’s best episodes were send-ups of music-world surreality. Swarm, with its contained plot and undertones of horror, has a different mood but it is just as interested in cultural commentary. Series creator Nabers wanted to counter many of the reductive stereotypes applied to Black women in film and television, so Dre doesn’t fit neatly into a category. She isn’t a hero, victim, or a reliable narrator, but culled from celebrity stan culture and a mishmash of meme-worthy real-world events, Dre is a villain fit for Gen-Z. The obsessive tendencies she—and the other members of Ni’Jah’s fan army, the Swarm—display are behaviors that would be rewarded in some online circles where monitoring every aspect of a performer’s life is considered normal and admirable.
That Dre runs a fan account on Twitter, follows Ni’Jah’s updates on Instagram, and knows every detail about the birth of her twins isn’t the problem, it’s that she cultivates this knowledge at the instead of fleshing out her own life. Dre lives vicariously through the people around her or over-invests in their experiences: Nowhere is that more evident than in her relationship with her best friend, roommate, and “sister,” Marissa (Chloe Bailey), with whom she shares an apartment. From Dre’s perspective, their lives have melded into one, and there is no need for anything or anyone outside their dyad. Having grown up loving Ni’Jah’s music, however, Marissa considers the fandom portion of her life over and is ready to move on to new experiences with her chronically unfaithful boyfriend Khalid, played with sleazy charm by Damson Idris.
Though she’s naive and rash, Marissa is a fully realized person ready to step into adulthood. Dre is not. Hints are given that something has always been “off” about her behavior, but Swarm isn’t out to diagnose its characters. Instead, Dre serves as an avatar for a particular type of fan, one so invested in their heroes they’ve absorbed some of their key traits. Like the pop stars she admires, Dre sheds looks and personas when they cease to be useful. A mirror that those around her can’t help but project onto, she draws in a new set of victims at each stop on her road trip. In Texas, she’s the world’s worst stripper and a soundboard for Paris Jackson’s needy fellow dancer. A trip to see Ni’Jah’s festival set at Bonnaroo means joining a wellness circle and pretending to tolerate meditation and hiking. Dre’s malleability allows her to pursue her sole goal of getting closer to Ni’Jah even as she leaves a slew of bodies in her wake, bumping off those foolish enough to disagree with her or stand in the way of her mission.
Demi Moore Knows a Slip Dress Is a Timeless Choice
Demi Moore and her daughter Scout Willis have been doing the rounds as a double act at fashion events recently, and on Tuesday night they walked the red carpet together at the Fashion Trust US Awards in Hollywood, ahead of Scout’s performance during the ceremony. They clearly planned their outfits together (or should we say their stylists did), as they both opted for saturated brights, with Scout in an electric-pink, floor-sweeping evening gown, and Demi, 60, in an apple-green slip dress.
Moore’s vibrant slip dress has a ’90s feel thanks to the square neckline, thick straps and sheer overlay of fabric with an asymmetric hemline. The star added some extra glamour to the look with a floor-length coat draped over her arms, and black court shoes with sharp pointed toes—a style that made a comeback on the fall 2023 runways at Christopher Kane and Prada, among others.
A slip dress is a timeless option for the red carpet, and a shape Moore has worn many times throughout her career. One of the most memorable looks from her archives is a sheer emerald slip she wore to attend a Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle premiere with then partner Ashton Kutcher in 2003. Although she took a riskier styling approach in the early Noughties—the low neckline exposed her black lace bra and she added black fishnet tights—her approach to accessories hasn’t changed: both times she selected a handbag in the same shade of green as the slip dress.
Your 501® Story JURY • Levi’s® Open Call
Alessia Glaviano is the Head of Global PhotoVogue and Director of the Photo Vogue Festival. Glaviano is a leading figure in the panorama of international photographic criticism. In 2011, Glaviano launched PhotoVogue, an innovative platform on which users can share their own photographs knowing they can rely on the curatorial supervision of professional photo editors. Now in its 12th year, counting over 300,000 photographers, from amateurs to professionals, hailing from all over the world, PhotoVogue relaunched in early 2022 to expand globally as well as to soon include media in all forms. The mission of PhotoVogue has always been, and will continue to be, to champion talent, both emerging and established, and influence visual literacy to help shape a more just, ethical, and inclusive visual world. PhotoVogue’s open calls for submissions helped launch the careers of photographers like Nadine Ijewere, Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Kyle Weeks, Camila Falquez, Kennedi Carter, Scandebergs, and Mous Lamrabat, among others. Curating a pool of incredible image-makers from all around the world, PhotoVogue is an industry-leading platform and a great example of diversity behind the camera and multitude of perspectives. In an expanded role, Alessia Glaviano is guiding PhotoVogue into this next phase and continues leading its creative direction. In her 20-plus years with Condé Nast, in addition to launching and overseeing PhotoVogue, Alessia has also driven select special events and curated exhibitions in prestigious museums and institutions with some of the most important artists of our times; developed Vogue Italia’s Instagram strategy; curated a series of Masters of Photography video interviews; and led the art direction of numerous digital branded-content projects, such as Gucci beauty’s iconic story featuring Ellie Goldstein. In order to have a physical and virtual space in time to bring the community together and further the conversation around the promotion of creativity, diversity and justice in image-making, in 2016 Glaviano directed in Milan the first edition of the PhotoVogue Festival. The event marked the first conscious fashion photography festival dedicated to the shared ground between Ethics and Aesthetics, bound to an influential fashion publication, and engaging the whole city of Milan with talks, exhibitions and photography-related initiatives. The 7 editions of the festival from 2016 to 2022 were always met with critical and public success. Besides the editorial activity, Alessia holds lectures and conferences on a regular basis. Some of the institutes and universities she was invited as guest lecturer include: University of Brighton, Central Saint Martins, IED, Bocconi University and the Milan Polytechnic. Glaviano was invited to participate as jury member in numerous internationally acclaimed photography contests including the World Press Photo, the Festival International de Mode et de Photographie à Hyères and the Leica Oskar Barnack Award; and has participated in several portfolio review sessions, including the “New York Times Portfolio Reviews”.
Melbostad Is a New Scandi-Chic Line From an Industry Veteran
For a long time now we’ve existed in a very expressive fashion landscape and there was very little talk of, or seemingly use for, restraint. The fall collections suggested that that’s changing, which is advantageous for Melbostad, restraint being part of his vocabulary.
Born outside of Oslo, he studied fashion in the Norwegian capital before leaving to get a Masters from the Royal College of Art in London. Back then he wanted to escape what he felt was a conformist culture; today he finds the city more cosmopolitan. But also, the more global the world gets, the more attractive the local becomes.
He described the line as “very honest, quite humble… things that are well done and thoughtfully designed, and that stand the test of time.” In that way it’s quite Scandinavian. “Obviously it kind of shaped who I am,” he said. “There are so many influences in Scandinavian design that I really love and injected into the project. A lot of it is not from the world of fashion, it’s more from interiors, home design, things like that.” He also leaned into an idea that’s popular in the Nordics of making good design relatively accessible—the price range is from about $175 to $2,000.
Rina Sawayama Has Fully Embraced Movie Star Style
Singer Rina Sawayama is no stranger to flexing a statement outfit on stage. For live performances, the pop star has rocked everything from all-leather looks to rhinestone rodeo getups. This past month, however, Sawayama has been channeling a different fashion energy on the red carpet—that of a movie star. Sawayama’s first movie, John Wick: Chapter 4, is out March 27. She stars alongside Keanu Reeves, and she has been busy embarking on the film’s official press tour. In the process, Sawayama has brought her unique edge to each and every ensemble.
It all started at the film’s London premiere earlier this month, when Sawayama showed up in a silver gown by Ashi Studio. With its high neckline and slightly puffed shoulders, the silhouette was modern, but still had the sparkle factor that’s fitting for a film premiere. For a screening in New York City last week, Sawayama switched things up in a plaid Thom Browne look that featured a cropped, sharp-shouldered jacket. Hardly your classic Old Hollywood gown!
At the L.A. premiere just last night, Sawayama embraced a more rock ‘n’ roll vibe. She slipped into Luis de Javier’s leather gown, covered in silver grommets and an asymmetrical fringed train. While the ensembles are wildly different in style and attitude, they’re united by a sense of risk-taking and experimentation. It’s a refreshing change from your standard ball gowns. That’s what movie premieres should really be all about—creating a fashion fantasy. One movie in, and Sawayama clearly understands this assignment.
Below, more of Rina’s best John Wick press tour looks.
Meet Matiere Premiere, the French Farm-to-Fragrance Brand That’s Finally Arrived Stateside
Raw materials also happen to be a family tradition. His grandparents grew jasmine, roses, and verbena. And having been raised in the south of France where perfumery is one of the big industries, there’s a cultural know-how that the locals possess. It also doesn’t hurt to have the land, which the Guichard family does. “After 15 years of work, I said, ‘What if I go back to the basics? What if, on top of creating fragrances, what if I grow some ingredients?’” The farm-to-fragrance pipeline is unique for a perfumer, and Guichard is the only master perfumer to grow his own ingredients. Most fragrance brands work in tandem with other farmers and plantations for their resources, for good reason: it’s just not very economical to garden. “You don’t make any money when you grow flowers. It’s very time-consuming, so you really need to have a dedication for it.”
Take roses, for instance: once planted, a rose bush will flourish in about three-to-four years. Five-to-seven years is peak flower-production time in a rose bush’s lifespan (which is about 15-to-18 years total), Guichard explained to me. It’s not the most economical production schedule for a modern fragrance brand in our fast-paced culture. Tuberose, which he also grows, takes a bit less time to harvest: about three months. Perhaps slightly more economical, however, tuberose absolute from the south of France will run you about €250K a kilo, versus its more commonly used Indian counterpart, which fetches about €10K a kilo.
French Flower is the only fragrance that exclusively uses tuberose from the south of France. It’s a rich, nectar-y, creamy tuberose enfleurage and absolute, mingled with ginger, Chinese tea leaf, and pear, meant to evoke the scent of a tuberose field at night (fun fact: tuberose flowers only release their scent in the evening). Compared to other tuberose fragrances I’ve smelled, which can sometimes veer greener or more vegetal, French Flower feels like the full-fatted, cream version of what I’d previously only experienced at the 2% or 1% level (if we’re talking in terms of milk). “We don’t say it’s better in France than it is elsewhere; it’s just different. You have different olfactive qualities, different olfactive facets,” Guichard said, describing the difference to me.
As for the rest of the hero fragrance notes, he’s selective about his sources. “We work with companies that [practice] ethical sourcing, like this amazing company for sandalwood based in Australia called Dutjahn. It’s owned by [indigenous] Australians and they own more than 50% of the company.” Guichard cites this kind of choice as part of the fragrance formula. “The choice of an ingredient is an act of creation. When you introduce a new formula—an orange flower, for example, coming from Tunisia—it’s an act of creation of selecting this very specific orange flower compared to one made in Morocco, in the south of France, or elsewhere.”
Todd Snyder Fall 2023 Menswear Collection
“There’s this ’50s thing happening,” wrote Todd Snyder in his fall collection notes. He’s correct, designers continue to mine a deep vein of post-war nostalgia and the result is a return to form, expressed through tailoring. That means Snyder is in his element. The designer trained in a tailor shop and when he first moved to New York he made all of his own clothes. “I know construction and how to put things together,” said Snyder, and it showed in this polished, yet relaxed collection, which he called American Classics.
Miles Davis, Phillip Johnson, and Frank O’Hara were a few of the personal heroes Snyder had in mind this season; there seemed to be shades of Edward Hopper in there too. The designer played with three-piece suiting, proclaiming the return of the waistcoat. The high-necked ones were most distinctive, and might even make a viable alternative to finance bros’ Patagonias. Wishful thinking…
Snyder’s tailoring fell softly around the body because of the roomier cut, but also due to the materials he used, including cashmere and piled materials. Velvet pants offered a rich and tactile alternative to corduroy, which was also on offer. Country tweeds and checked wools added rougher textures and rustic or collegiate elements. All the looks are grounded with heavy brogues. “I’m ready to move beyond sneakers, it was like a chance to turn that page,” said the designer with a laugh.
The designer recently opened a new store in Los Angeles. In response to requests to dress glitterati, there are cashmere tuxes with satin lapels in unexpected hues like chocolate and pearl gray here. But when Snyder says “there’s a return to dressing up again,” he’s thinking across the board, not specifically about evening wear. And he relates this change in direction to the seismic changes we’re living through. Abandoning sweats for sartorialism is a way of distancing ourselves from the recent past.
“I always feel like clothing is a way to cloud or cover people’s insecurities and I do think that that has a tendency to come out as you start to see things shift,” Snyder mused. “I always used to struggle about getting into fashion, but I used to work in a store, and I got such joy out of making somebody feel better about how they look or present themselves. I’m not saving the world, but for me fashion has always been about the person and understanding where their comfort levels are and pushing a little bit.” This accomplished fall collection should make it easy for fans to lean into that evolution.
Rachel Comey Spring 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Over a recent breakfast Rachel Comey was reminiscing about the Chelsea flea market. In the 1990s, before zoning laws made way for luxury high rises on Sixth Avenue, antique dealers and junk collectors turned the empty lots from 24th to 27th Streets into a weekend paradise for vintage-lovers. Comey once stumbled across a cache of printed textiles that she still uses as references today, among many other treasures fashion-oriented and not.
Walking into her Crosby Street store in SoHo conjures something like the sense of kismet that a Saturday morning trip to the Chelsea flea market once did, the racks full of pieces with a one-off sense of the special, from a summery crocheted top with dragonflies knit into the pattern, to a poplin slip dress picked out in baguette-cut glass beads. They look like they could be vintage, only without all the tedious legwork.
Not that Comey has anything against legwork. She’s been at this for 20-plus years. It’s a career stage when some designers (especially male designers, especially in Milan and Paris) retreat to ivory towers and lose touch with what women want. She’s still working on personal instinct, which in turn keeps her relevant with her customers. A black denim apron belt in the spring lineup is a nifty accessorizing piece with a zip pocket that eliminates the need for a bag, because Comey herself is happier when she’s hands-free.
She’s also looking outward for ideas, of course. With an eye to summer weddings, she whipped up a one-shoulder peplum in stretch smocked cotton along with a matching skirt. Together or separate they have serious re-wear potential.
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Anonlychild Fall 2023 Ready-to-Wear Collection
“Who is the woman?” When it comes to fashion, that’s an age-old question. Buyers, stylists, editors, and publicists all seek to distill the essence of a designer’s point of view to a singular person—an existing archetype, a made-up persona, a real-life muse; any will do as long as the reference to which the garments are tied to is tangible and understandable.
At anOnlyChild, Maxwell Osborne gave himself the unofficial mission of defining his woman this season. “Last season was about this gathering, a house party where everyone is living under the same roof and wearing everyone’s clothes, so we showed it on different ages and sizes as a big range,” Osborne said. “This collection is more of a darker approach, about a person outside the party looking in and they’re pretty much taking things from the party and wearing them themselves.” The protagonist of the story is “making something out of nothing,” a founding principle of anOnlyChild along with the use of deadstock fabrics. But rather than projecting scarcity, Osborne’s fall lineup exudes opulence in a wealth of options.
Gatherings and bubble hems were common denominators in the collection, cleverly used on tops, dresses, and coats. Osborne employed volume and shirring as a tool for building a consistent silhouette and signature design details. Most striking were cropped bomber jackets made in leather and fabric with the shoulder dropped and the sleeves and back shirred, creating a spherical shape from every angle. The shirring also appeared under the plackets in quarter-button shirts, in the center front of silk dresses, and as details in elevated tracksuits. “The idea is that you’ll see these bigger proportions gathered or with cinched waists, but that comes from someone taking found jackets or pieces and making them work with their sizing and proportions,” Osborne explained.
He also carried over the short-sleeve suit from last season, which was inspired by the Kariba suits created by designer Ivy Ralph once worn by the Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley. This time around, the jacket was deftly cut in an exaggerated hourglass silhouette with puff short sleeves, worn both as a mini dress and as part of a fantastic two-piece suit. “People keep talking about a ‘West Indian’ aesthetic or the brand being a ‘Jamaican heritage brand,’ but that feels very strict. The brand isn’t about Jamaica, it’s more about the mentality of playfulness and having nothing and making something,” Osborne explained.
While Chapter 1 was personal in that it was Osborne’s return to New York Fashion Week, this season is even more so because “I can see myself wearing it,” he said. “It’s more in my wheelhouse, and I feel more comfortable here telling the story about who this girl is.” When asked to define her, he started, “you know, the girl on the go, very New York, she wants to dress up…” before stopping with a laugh. “Everybody always says the same thing, but this is her,” he said, pointing to a model in a sheer blouse and wide-leg pants. At anOnlyChild, “the girl” is defined less as a specific person and more by a sensibility. That mindset will help Osborne keep growing as he settles into this next chapter.
Keisukeyoshida Tokyo Fall 2023 Collection
Keisuke Yoshida is one of Tokyo’s brightest young fashion talents. This season he closed an overall strong Tokyo Fashion Week with a collection that felt like he’d leveled-up. The 32-year-old designer has spent the past few seasons wrangling with his own design identity, making clothes about his internal struggles. This time, he put himself in another person’s shoes, and by doing so managed to unlock a new level of depth.
By chance he’d met a 17-year-old fan, who came to see a talk of his. The boy, who was with his mother, was wearing one of the designer’s popular and impactful trench coats, and said that after being suicidal, his love for Yoshida’s clothes—which his mother had bought for him—had saved his life.
“Every season I face myself and delve into myself to make things, so it was encouraging to me that what I was doing was helping someone else,” Yoshida said backstage. The designer related to that boy’s feelings—he found solace in fashion after being bullied as a young person himself. Inspired by the relationship between the boy and his mother, Yoshida began by making a collection that spoke to the affectionate power of a feminine guardian.
Working with the Paris-based stylist Léopold Duchemin, he came up with a way to nod to that image of a gloomy boy and the mother-like figure that protects him. “We kept using the word ‘strict,’ and thought that this collection needed to be strict, like a family, a lover, or a teacher,” said Yoshida.
That narrative came through in the ‘lonely’ and ‘love’ motifs painted in white and red on latex vests, and in more serious pieces like the vampish dresses or tailored separates, as well as office-gray coats with power shoulders, all tempered by the tender glamour of the silk-satin skirts and shirts beneath. On some looks, the satiny lining of the coats wrapped around the neck like blouses, in a way that seemed to suggest the inside coming out, while that incredible black leather trench coat added a Matrix vibe that somehow felt fresh.
He had named his collection “THE LAST” after a note he’d scribbled early on in the season, but watching the show it felt like the start of something new. Yoshida’s boy muse himself opened the show, while the Japanese supermodel Kiko Mizuhara closed it with the song “Young and Foolish” playing over the speakers.
There’s some finessing Yoshida needs to do in the finer physical details—some of those silhouettes on the upper half could have been sleeker—but now that he’s raised the bar, keen eyes in the wider industry will be watching how he continues to mature. That will come with more responsibility, more exposure, and perhaps more success. But oh, to be young and foolish again.
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