NATURE VS. THE MACHINE

BY KAIA KELLY

Ultra-modern Parisian label Coperni is officially a force to be reckoned with. The brand has gained unbelievable traction following the exhibition of its spring 2023 collection, featuring a line-up of looks focused on celebrating women’s silhouettes. The catwalk witnessed an array of original pieces, each one accentuating different features in different ways. The show was revered by many as beautiful, historical, and elegant, but the critical acclaim must be credited to the final look, starring supermodel Bella Hadid and Fabrican, a patented spray-on garment technology.

The finale panned out like a performance. Hadid, wearing nothing but nude underwear, appears on stage atop a lit platform. She stands statue-like as a team of specialists sprays Fabrican directly onto her body for nine captivating minutes. Onlookers watch as a beautiful white slip dress is fitted, fashioned, and finalized before their very eyes. Once the look is complete, Hadid parades down the catwalk, exhibiting the masterpiece with elegance and intensity. This stunning finale not only made out to be one of the most impressive moments in Bella’s modeling career but also one of the most memorable catwalks in runway history.

Coperni’s dramatic fusion of fashion, performance art, and modern technology took the internet by storm as news outlets, celebrities, and people across the globe watched the finale in awe. The stunning exhibition of fashion genius made headlines. However, it evoked different emotions in everyone. For some, it was admiration and amazement; for others, total nineties nostalgia. Let’s talk Alexander McQueen.

McQueen’s self-titled brand was one of the most celebrated fashion labels of its generation. From the “coiled corset” to his Oscar Wilde inspired collection, McQueen continuously curated stand-out styles that pushed the boundaries of modern fashion. His genius and ingenuity were simply unmatched. Fashion experts have drawn stunning parallels between Coperni’s exhibition and Alexander McQueen’s spring 1999 collection. Some even speculate that Hadid’s final walk was an homage to Shalom Harlow’s performance for Dress No.13, one of the label’s most iconic demonstrations of forward-thinking fashion.

The initial looks of Collection No.13 exuded romance and tranquility, featuring grandiose displays of ruffles and lace. However, this air of serenity was simply a set-up for what was about to come. Enter, Shalom Harlow, trained ballerina and runway model, decked out in a layered, white ball gown. She enters the stage and approaches a rotating platform surrounded by two industrial-looking machines.

Anticipation turns to bewilderment as the robots begin spraying Harlow and her gown with yellow and black paint. Once the attack is over, Harlow steps down from the platform in dramatized distress. She makes her way down the runway to stand before the audience, displaying the result of the artistic massacre that had occurred just moments before. McQueen has figuratively and literally pitted nature against the machine.

Harlow’s exhibition of McQueen’s Dress No.13 was truly groundbreaking for its time. The collection brought the audience to the intersection of fashion and modern technology, a place that few labels have ventured to before. The influence of this collection’s finale is undeniable.

However, in the age of the internet, hot headlines and catalog cameos no longer mark the rise of a pop culture classic like social media. While an Instagram post is not as glamorous as a feature on the cover of Vogue, there is some excitement to be found in the content’s MIV or media impact value. If you aren’t familiar, media impact value (MIV) is the monetary profit calculated from online posts, interactions, and articles. It essentially slaps a figurative price tag on social media posts of any kind, converting likes and comments to dollars and cents. This technology allowed experts to decipher the true influence of Coperni’s final bow, which came out to be an estimated $26.3 million within just 48 hours of the show. Hadid also put up some impressive numbers as a personal post from her Instagram generated $1 million by Sunday evening and upwards of 2.8 million likes (Launchmetrics). The numbers clearly speak for themselves; Coperni’s stand-out collection finale reached a global audience and had an undeniable impact on the fashion industry as a whole.

While McQueen’s prime was arguably the most influential period in modern fashion history, the phenomena of MIVs and Instagram posts were not present to put that claim to the test. However, the pop culture influence of Dress No.13 and McQueen’s overarching oeuvre is undeniable.

Fashion is all about pushing boundaries. Coloring inside the lines never got anyone anywhere interesting, right? This is why brands like Alexander McQueen and Coperni are constantly at the forefront of fashion discourse. They color outside the lines. They challenge people’s preconceived notions of what fashion is or should be. They trade conformity for disruption.