Ugly generally isn’t a look women aspire to, yet what we’re seeing from designers in recent months seems to indicate otherwise. For Pre-fall, Celine – the go-to label for all things polished with a modern edge – is championing granny-inspired dresses (albeit in sumptuous suede); the usually youthful Kenzo is bringing back ’80s-flecked separates that recall MC Hammer (minus the tacky metallic fabrics, thankfully); and even Lanvin – known for its sublime cocktail gowns under former creative director Alber Elbaz (this collection was designed by the in-house team) – has gone New Romantic (you know, um, Adam Ant).
It’s not exactly stuff that one would typically find chic or flattering, but that hasn’t stopped a niche group of fashion-savvy women from adopting the look or attitude. Think tees with ironic prints, shirts and jackets that look two sizes too big, and other items that look scavenged from the thrift store or dumpster.
The man to thank for this burgeoning movement: Demna Gvasalia, aka fashion’s hottest name now for introducing this anti-fashion vision at Vetements – the French label he co-founded – before taking the reins at Balenciaga last October. “At Vetements, it’s always very much: ‘It’s ugly – that’s why we like it,’” he says.
Call it a response to fashion fatigue or social media overload – enough with the street-style peacocking, Instagram-ready OOTDs and onslaught of shiny, new products already. What’s certain: The look is huge in Fall, which leaves the question, how exactly to pull it off? Treading the line between fashionably “ugly” and plain bad calls for serious finesse. In the spirit of Gvasalia’s wit, here are our tongue-in-cheek rules to getting it right.