Arts and Culture

Finding Feminine Freedom in the Y2K Nostalgia Resurgence

Image Credit: Photographed by Acielle StyleDuMonde

By Emily Smith

High-art, editorial fashion is usually, by definition, what hits the catwalk at London Fashion Week. Luxury designers engineer their collections on abstractions of British postmodernism, the Avant Garde, reimagining their work as the modern renaissance. However, this February, we were not only presented with a recognisable and wearable fashion lineup, we witnessed fashion for once constructed around living memory. Conner Ives’ catwalk debut opened up a time capsule. Ives’ take on high-fashion wasn’t that unobtainable and opulent art form it usually is, he took us to a realm we could all achieve and threw us back to Y2K. 

With bold, clashy prints and block colours, low-rise skirts, and of course those infamous butterfly clips, Ives “made rhinestones desirable again” (@tianweizhang) and “reminded me why I love fashion” (@oliviapetter8). Ive made fashion not only cute and colourful, he made it accessible and inclusive.

Accessibility has always been an issue in all sectors of society, and the fashion industry is no exception. Fashion, particularly high-fashion has been all about the drama, the architectural, the wow-factor – the aesthetic. Whilst aestheticism is very much a part of pop culture right now, however nostalgia and a sense of the whimsical is creeping in. And it’s creeping in because we’re craving a style centred around individuality, creativity and inclusivity that the post-covid is lacking.  Ives presented that aesthetic, and he reached for that garish nostalgia we’re longing for.

Photographed by Acielle StyleDuMonde

Covid locked us away and now we want to be seen again. We want the aesthetic, to show off, to be excited by the world again, but Covid created the realisation of the divide in society we’ve all been blinkered to. The revival of a trend in everyone’s living memory is in its own small way creating a societal liberation, particularly for women and for women’s own self-expression symbolised by glitter eyeshadow and pops of pink. Ives’ collection created a freedom and an emancipation for femininity. 

In an interview with Vogue, Caren Jepkemei said of Ives’ collection: “all the models were excited for the show, [they] felt so beautiful and free”. Ives and the playful, poppy aesthetic of 00s broke the veneer that fashion is just an austere, stiff-lipped sphere – no. Fashion is an experimental realm capable of its own, inclusive societal renaissance 
“Conner just wanted fun and colour and optimism” said Anthony Turner, the makeup artist for Ives’ LFW debut, but Ives has done, the Y2K culture resurgence has done so much more. Through the lens of 00s fantasy, there exists a freedom, a self-expression, an openness or in the words of fashion designer Harris Reed, “an amazing sense of f*ck it; people were really ready to jump into this world, and make it all happen”.