It’s not every day that we get a new addition to haute couture fashion week. Mostly because, in order to make it onto the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode’s calendar, brands must be sponsored by members of the elite association that includes historic houses like Chanel, Givenchy, and Christian Dior. Which is why we were thrilled to learn that New York-based label Area would shake things up while debuting its first-ever couture collection — albeit digitally and not as part of the official calendar — this season.
On Thursday, Area designers Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszczyk released the kind of unexpected and daring collection, made up of sequin-adorned suits, crystal bustiers, and accordion-like dresses, that this season’s couture week was missing. Sure, there were big productions and names, and even bigger gowns — not to mention horses used at not one, but two shows, at Dior and Chanel — but, there hasn't been a lot of playfulness. Nor has there been a lot of size diversity.
The design duo changed that by tapping Precious Lee — the first plus-size Black model to appear in Vogue, who most recently walked in Versace’s spring ‘21 runway show — for its debut. “We feel like every type of body is beautiful and unique in its own way,” they said in the show notes. “We wanted to highlight that by playing with a range of silhouettes created to compliment the wearer — showcasing that beauty and craft can feel exclusive in its core, but at the same time, include a range of body types.” Yasmin Wijnaldum, a Dutch model who’s walked in shows for Prada, Jean Paul Gaultier, Chanel, and Valentino, also showcases the new collection.
With 14 looks in total, Wijnaldum showcased eight of them — including a rainbow, crystal-covered bikini and a sideless gown with tiers running down the front — while Lee modeled the remaining six — ranging from a bow-and-crystal-embellished black suit to a white-and-silver corseted gown that also contained a petticoat.
In line with couture standards, all clothing was custom-tailored — one of the areas that makes couture week feel extra special — and, as the duo said, inclusive of different body types. “With this couture collection, we wanted to showcase our ability and dedication to creating beauty by hand,” Fogg and Panszczyk noted. In doing so, they used close to half a million Swarovski crystals.
This extended to one of our favorite parts of the collection: the chunky, metallic clogs worn by both Lee and Wijnaldum. Alongside hot pink sandals and square-toe boots were two pairs of bulbous clogs — one shiny and silver and the other black with crystal studs — that looked equally chic when paired with gowns and bikini tops. We didn't need another reason to love clogs, but we're glad Area gave us one anyway.