It seems to me that 2019’s inflatable culture is a conventional millennial story: twenty- and thirtysomethings reminiscent of their youths, a time while Miss Selfridge became packed with inflatable backpacks and every pupil house had a blow-up armchair in toddler blue or crimson. Back in the olden days, the best matters available to inflate had been lilos or the bizarre airbed. Now, shops are complete of inflatable things – unicorns and sharks and llamas – all ready to bob around a pool someplace. On Instagram, young celebrities always appear to be lounging in blue water in blow-up flamingos or avocados or pizza slices. We are residing in an age of literal warm air.
Inevitably, inflatables have made it to the catwalk. Like any terrific fashion trend, it has subtler iterations (indeed, that is the way you understand it’s a fashion, in place of a subversive announcement or a nervous breakdown). At the University of Westminster’s MA Menswear show this week, one pupil, San Kim, positioned a gentleman version in a see-thru inflatable paired with white underpants. The footage of recent St Martin’s graduate Fredrik Tjærandsen’s balloon dress went viral after his graduate fashion show at the end of the month. It is a hyper-engineered piece that turns into a everyday dress, sinking over the wearer while deflated. A bright and no doubt essential seam makes it look like arse cheeks from some angles. However I wouldn’t say that turned into the most impractical thing approximately it.
There are phallic factors to a number of this – Tjærandsen’s dresses, as they deflate, appearance a bit like condoms. In truth, the whole lot looks a chunk like a condom. But I don’t assume that’s the middle cultural take-domestic right here. That playful “Ooh, a sausage, appears a chunk like a nob” schtick only works in contexts where you don’t assume it, and absolutely everyone expects frisson from the catwalk.
Perhaps what it says is that we are at the theoretical endpoint of clothes. The dominant fashion in any given season, which style human beings never point out because it is not cool, is what makes your frame look like? Does it intensify or minimise? Is it “masculine” (massive shoulders) or “female” (small waists)? Are we throwing in a “ordinary” version to make a point? (The world continues to be unclear approximately what that factor is, by way of the manner; it’s genuinely extra complex than “regular-shaped human beings are human, too”.) In a balloon, get dressed; you don’t have any form. Even when it deflates, it’s miles all bumps so that you go from searching like a melon to a blackberry, neither of which is a conventional human shape. In other phrases, you have damaged free out of your human self; you may neither be judged nor run for a bus; you meet no physical requirements nor invite choice. Wearing an inflatable isn’t always a constraint but a liberation. There. Now all of us need one, right?