In 2021 a particular aesthetic hailing from the mid to late 2000s was deemed to be extremely uncool. You could even say it was cheugy, a word that swiftly went viral on TikTok (and just as swiftly became cheugy itself). We're referring, of course, to three memeable words splashed across an overwhelming array of signs, T-shirts, chevron prints and homeware: Live, Laugh, Love.
But is 'Live, Laugh, Love' really so bad? Growing up queer in his hometown of Liverpool, with this extremely heteronormative aesthetic as a backdrop, 26-year-old designer Patrick McDowell says no. Now, he's reclaiming its comeback.
The London-based designer and Central Saint Martins graduate who, earlier this month, addressed sustainability in fashion at the United Nations, just dropped a collection of hoodies, tees and vests emblazoned with the words 'Live, Laugh, Love'. Putting sustainability front and centre, the collection is part of the rising designer's debut collaboration with Hit & Run, an anti-fast fashion marketplace.
"I'm reclaiming 'Live, Laugh, Love' because it's uncool," McDowell told R29. Following four independently produced collections and collaborations with the likes of Pinko, McDowell shared that his most recent drop was "inspired by the experiences in life that shaped me, [including] the culture of Y2K and the early noughties, and the LGBTQIA+ community, which I am a proud member of. I wanted to celebrate all of these cultures and reimagine them to create modern-day iconography."
And he's achieved just that. The campaign images wholeheartedly embody the 'Live, Laugh, Love' sentiment. Featuring model Ashley Tamuno in a variety of skirts, tights, black sunglasses and hot pink gloves – and, of course, those tops, embellished with the words 'Live, Laugh, Love' in diamanté lettering – it's pure fun.
Compared to more established iconography like crosses, flags, roses – even the Eiffel Tower – the cultural significance of 'Live, Laugh, Love' might be a little...questionable, shall we say? This isn't lost on McDowell. "It’s quite a strange thing to write, isn't it? 'Live, Laugh, Love,'" he continued. "I suppose the real irony is that all one really wants from life is to live, laugh and love. Isn’t that what we all really want? What we need?"
It's true, isn't it? In our post-pandemic existence, faced with deteriorating dating lives and a fully fledged climate crisis, this one simple ideology remains the same. McDowell refers to it as "queering" things from his childhood and making them fun, because why not?
So take that, haters. Live, Laugh and Love just a little bit more.