New York Fashion Week: Cardi B Fave Christian Cowan Brings the Sequins + Feathers

Cambridge, UK born designer Christian Cowan was still a student at the London College of Fashion in 2014 when he caught the attention of the right people at Dazed. The influential culture mag Instagrammed his entire collection, and a week later Lady Gaga was wearing his pink sparkly suit with matching wide-brimmed hat on the streets of New York City. Eventually he was dressing Miley Cyrus, Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell and most especially Cardi B, who can be seen in one of his styles on the cover of her debut album, Invasion of Privacy.

Like those famous women who wear them, what is instantly recognizable about his fashions is that they’re bold, confident, attention-grabbing, and with just the right amount of cheek and humor. Which is exactly what marked his Spring/Summer 2022 collection last Friday at New York Fashion Week. While the mood all around us is somber, anxious and mostly divisive, Cowan opted instead for exuberance and the celebration of unfettered “club kid” fabulousness, with models rocking sequins, crystals, satins and extravagant plumes – the latter which sprouted conspicuously from the sleeves of supermodel Winnie Harlow. Elsewhere, checkerboard contrasted with cheetah prints, and a Fiorucci logo dress turned out to be just the sort of retro ’80s glamour we need right now.

Model Winnie Harlow walks the runway for Christian Cowan NYFW Spring/Summer ’22 Show during NYFW: The Shows at Gallery at Spring Studios on September 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Christian Cowan)

And speaking of the “Me Decade,” Harlow also donned a dress inspired by legendary club goddess Susanne Bartsch, reading “This is the Front” and “This is the Back” – which is certainly helpful, should eighteen months of quarantine have warped your perception of perspective.

But Cowan’s clothes are also resolutely current and zeitgeisty-clever – to wit, a QR-code-armed augmented reality gown, which allows the wearer to virtually interact with the designer. Yet perhaps most telling of all is his refusal to take his label into streetwear, instead focusing on our desire to dress up and be all exuberant, intrepid and ostentatious. Seriously, as the entire world seems to be dressing down and downer, and especially after this far-too-long period of being locked up with nowhere to go, we cannot possibly want anything more than to splash out and make a statement – especially if that statement includes sequins and really big feathers.

And we’re obviously not the only ones. In the audience for his NYFW show was a genuine A-list of headline grabbers, including Tinashe, Kehlani, Justine Skye, Gigi Gorgeous, Amelia Gray Hamlin, and Drag Race superstar Aquaria.

What we loved most, though, about Christian Cowan‘s S/S 2022 collection is that it rings with the sort positivity and optimism that has been so difficult to tap into for the last several years, between Brexit, Trump, a global rising tide of nationalism, environmental catastrophe, and most of all this deadly thing called COVID-19. And though we really can’t know what spring of ’22 has in store for us, we do know that we most definitely want it to be a lot more joyful and sparkly than the two springs that preceded it.

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Models walk the runway for Christian Cowan NYFW Spring/Summer ’22 Show during NYFW: The Shows at Gallery at Spring Studios on September 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Christian Cowan)

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A view of dogs on the runway for Christian Cowan NYFW Spring/Summer ’22 Show during NYFW: The Shows at Gallery at Spring Studios on September 10, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Christian Cowan)

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