After months of social distancing, many of us have had just about enough. It’s no fun being 6 feet apart from our friends and family. But this moment is sparking creativity in some fashion designers, inspiring them to reimagine garments that have some fun even from a distance.
Many of these looks are a commentary on the absurdity of our times rather than an effort to create clothes that consumers will buy and wear. (Though social distancing hats are now a thing, popping up everywhere from Chinese elementary schools to German Burger Kings.) One outfit, which takes the form of a large rattan cage, is suggestive of how trapped we feel by these new rules. Others, like a massive doughnut, are effectively performance art. Some, like the hats and the petticoats, are a nod to the history of fashion, when clothes were used to keep people apart for many reasons, including to create a barrier between women and unwanted suitors. (One fashion historian suggests that this may have inadvertently helped mitigate smallpox and cholera.)
Here’s a few of our favorite examples of socially distant fashion. Let them inspire you as you step out into the world over the next few months.
A rattan cage
This rattan cage was created by the Belgian design firm Livable for the United Nations’ Global Call Out to Creatives project. It was launched early in the crisis as a way to visually represent the distance we should maintain from one another to stay safe. But the outfit also speaks to how confined and claustrophobic many of us feel in this new reality.
Italian costume designer and hatmaker Veronica Toppino created an extra-wide-brimmed hat that also creates distance between the wearer and anyone they come near. One, which is covered with pink translucent fabric, is reminiscent of Victorian fashion. But the other, which consists only of an aluminum structure, calls to mind the iconography of saints in medieval paintings, with their glittering halos.
Design platform Multiply has created a “petticoat dress” inspired by crinolines, which were first invented in the 15th century as a way to keep women and men a safe distance apart. It was later a marker of class and privilege. In Multiply’s reimagining, the skirts are gargantuan, with a width of 6.5 feet from end to end. There are several designs of the skirt, including one for swimming.
It’s not just design firms that are taking a stab at reimagining fashion for this new era. Around the country, and particularly on the streets of New York, people are creating looks that stand out.
This gothic look reflects the darkness of our moment. But the good news when you’re the angel of death is that your wingspan keeps you a safe distance from other pedestrians.
And for a completely different vibe, here’s a pink, fluffy doughnut from wearable art designer Pissy Pussy. It makes the doughnut inhabitant look like a confection—one that you unfortunately can’t touch.