Next Monday is set to see Britain’s highest ever recorded temperature. Pushing 40 degrees celsius, it appears that the impending climate crisis has come about two decades too early – with temperatures in Europe famously mimicking predictions from the 90s which anticipated this heat only in 2050.
Whilst it’s hard to concentrate on anything but the heat at the moment, the heatwave in the UK also has us reflecting on the times fashion has brought the heat, too. For decades now, fashion has looked to the unsavoury aspects of society for inspiration – taking things that would otherwise have prompted fear, horror or disgust, and reworking them into things of beauty, wealth and palatability. We’re looking back through the archives at some of the times fashion has hit its own heatwave: from sweaty campaigns to intentional sunburn, fires on the runway and condensation through the glass.
For FW07, Tom Ford enlisted artist Marilyn Minter to bring her fascination with the erotic to his already sex-fuelled visual language. Getting sweaty, we saw Tom Ford and various models appear drenched in sweat – from detail shots of his shirt collar to more explicit images of him eating dessert. Elsewhere, models’ hair was slicked to their forehead, ‘sweat beads’ enveloped the Tom Ford eyewear, and a signature hazy glow was added to the images.
Elsewhere, Gucci understood the assignment for its 2019 Cruise collection. Drawing on a photographer who understands heat, saturation and satire in his art entirely, the brand enlisted Martin Parr for its campaign and accompanying photo book – photographed in the French Riviera. Bringing his kitsch, British-seaside aesthetic to one of Italy’s most revered luxury houses, this was one of Michele’s most successful early moves as creative director.
Other brands bring the heat by ‘burning’ their logos into models for campaigns. We saw it last year with Stüssy, and more recently with brand EGONLAB, who used makeup to imprint their brand name onto models’ backs for the most recent show. Recalling dodgy sunburns of holidays and summer days’ past, this technique has been channelling the heatwave in fashion for a few years now.
As if the clothes weren’t hot enough, some designers use their physical presentations to dial up the mercury. One of which was Alexander McQueen, who’s ‘98 show It’s a Jungle Out There carried on despite a car exploding just off the runway – all unplanned. Channelling this same energy in later collections, we saw McQueen close his next show that year with a red hooded dress, encased within a ring of fire.
Fast forward to this season, and we saw Rick Owens raise the stakes with a series of burning caged balls, dropped from great height into the water feature of the Palais de Tokyo. If the weather in Paris was not hot enough, this stunt raised temperatures to new heights. Literally.
JEWELLERY & CONDENSATION
Elsewhere, jewellery brand Alan Crocetti consistently brings the heat in its imagery and campaigns. With wider imagery leaning into the erotic, Alan Crocetti knows that sex sells – drawing on aesthetics of sport, the body, and injury to progress its visual narrative.
What’s more, the Kardashian – Jenner clan are no stranger to aesthetics which turn up the heat. But it is Kylie Jenners’ TMRW mag shoot which perhaps does it best – juxtaposing the thick wool of her outfit with condensation pooling on the glass she poses behind. Combined with glossy makeup that accentuates a sheen, and the inferences are clear: high temperatures, high drama.
More on CULTED