Fashion / Feature

Home or away: is lifestyle the new fashion?

Gisele Bündchen, 1999, PHOTOGRAPHY Arthur Elgort / Conde Nast, Getty Images.

Blame it on the internet age, or the desire for holistic living: a curated lifestyle is our latest obsession.

It was a realisation spurred by the friend who wryly referred to her home as “almost ready for the interiors shoot”. It came with a laugh and a sarcastic eye-roll. But I knew just what she was saying.

Having recently moved into a new place myself, I’d spent many hours that might have been better devoted to sleep sifting through Google to find the perfect Scandinavian armchair on consignment, the mid-century coffee table I could already see in my mind. I moved furniture around, visualising the room as it might appear via my phone screen. No matter that the shoot would never come – not even an Instagram one (take story, hesitate, download for later and forget about completely is more my modus operandi). The golden light, perfect alignments and warm minimalism of the spaces flooding my visual referencing platforms had left a kind of mental blueprint: a lived beauty I wanted in my atmosphere.

It had been a long time since I’d put this much rumination into my wardrobe. 

That was, until I started planning a holiday. Cue saved images of Kate wearing a snorkel and the perfect black bikini, a late 90s Gisele lounging in an oceanside habitat, along with a trawl for the pieces I imagined would allow me to be my ultimate self in new surrounds.

loewe x paula’s ibiza ss 18, photography Gray Sorrenti.

Our current visual culture goes much further than the selfie.

We crave depth and breadth; our innate inquisitiveness is such that we want to see behind closed doors.

If an internet acquaintance is going on holiday, we expect nothing less than to be taken with them. We absorb with voracity others’ beauty routines, their reading lists, their fruit bowls filled with stone fruit on artfully quaint kitchen tables. In the words of interiors and travel writer Herbert Ypma, “How people live creates in us an almost intuitive and insatiable curiosity.” Such desires are obviously not new. What’s changed, of course, is our ability to curate what people see when they look not through a window, but a screen.

Blame the ability to share across hemispheres, the generations of references now available to us at any one time. Blame a want for ‘balance’ – of applying care and curation to every aspect of our lives. But if our drive to consume fashion is down to wanting things we believe will enhance our beings, then surely ‘lifestyle’ is the new fashion.

Click to the homepage of any online retail giant and you’ll notice the shift. Ahead of this year’s European summer, Net-A-Porter launched its biggest offering yet on the aptly named Jet-A-Porter holiday shop, while Matchesfashion.com has its own vacation edit, not to mention a curation for the home launched in 2018, featuring mohair blankets by Loewe and cup and saucer sets from Gucci. Boutique retailers such as Alex Eagle and My Chameleon (where you can add, say, a sculptural heel from Rejina Pyo and a sculptural carafe from Maison Balzac to your cart) have made a holistic aesthetic their signature. In a time when we can document every corner, well, we want the image to be aspirational.

Needless to say, the same goes for the fashion runways.

When the phones go up, the greater the visual spectacle, the deeper the impact.

And an incredible locale is an especial drawcard. Just ask Chanel and its man-made beach for SS 19 or Jacquemus and his lavender fields. Or look to Loewe’s ongoing collaboration with Ibiza stalwart Paula’s – the perfect high season mooring for a Spanish brand that does elevated bohemia like no other. In the here and now (or the where-we’d-rather-be) fashion is all about the experience.

With this in mind, the Resort collections that bridge the trans-seasonal gap between Autumn Winter and Spring Summer (typically overshadowed when it comes to runway shows) have potential to become the most talked about of the year for brands that take the notion of vacation dressing literally.

For Resort 2020, both Prada and Louis Vuitton decamped to New York – while Chloé went to Shanghai – but it was Christian Dior’s elaborate Resort 20 show in Marrakech that garnered the most attention. Mindful of the potential for cultural missteps, Christian Dior’s artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri sought guidance from Anne Grosfilley, an anthropologist specialising in African textiles and fashion, collaborated with Ivory Coast-based studio Uniwax to create authentic wax print fabrics and tapped local artisans to provide expertise on woven pieces and set design. Among these fine details were the custom cushions, adorning seats, that guests scrambled for after the show, eager to bring a part of the wonder home.

Our current visual culture goes much further than the selfie.

We crave depth and breadth; our innate inquisitiveness is such that we want to see behind closed doors.

If an internet acquaintance is going on holiday, we expect nothing less than to be taken with them. We absorb with voracity others’ beauty routines, their reading lists, their fruit bowls filled with stone fruit on artfully quaint kitchen tables. In the words of interiors and travel writer Herbert Ypma, “How people live creates in us an almost intuitive and insatiable curiosity.” Such desires are obviously not new. What’s changed, of course, is our ability to curate what people see when they look not through a window, but a screen.

Blame the ability to share across hemispheres, the generations of references now available to us at any one time. Blame a want for ‘balance’ – of applying care and curation to every aspect of our lives. But if our drive to consume fashion is down to wanting things we believe will enhance our beings, then surely ‘lifestyle’ is the new fashion.

Jacquemus SS 20.

Click to the homepage of any online retail giant and you’ll notice the shift. Ahead of this year’s European summer, Net-A-Porter launched its biggest offering yet on the aptly named Jet-A-Porter holiday shop, while Matchesfashion.com has its own vacation edit, not to mention a curation for the home launched in 2018, featuring mohair blankets by Loewe and cup and saucer sets from Gucci. Boutique retailers such as Alex Eagle and My Chameleon (where you can add, say, a sculptural heel from Rejina Pyo and a sculptural carafe from Maison Balzac to your cart) have made a holistic aesthetic their signature. In a time when we can document every corner, well, we want the image to be aspirational.

Needless to say, the same goes for the fashion runways.

When the phones go up, the greater the visual spectacle, the deeper the impact.

And an incredible locale is an especial drawcard. Just ask Chanel and its man-made beach for SS 19 or Jacquemus and his lavender fields. Or look to Loewe’s ongoing collaboration with Ibiza stalwart Paula’s – the perfect high season mooring for a Spanish brand that does elevated bohemia like no other. In the here and now (or the where-we’d-rather-be) fashion is all about the experience.

With this in mind, the Resort collections that bridge the trans-seasonal gap between Autumn Winter and Spring Summer (typically overshadowed when it comes to runway shows) have potential to become the most talked about of the year for brands that take the notion of vacation dressing literally.

For Resort 2020, both Prada and Louis Vuitton decamped to New York – while Chloé went to Shanghai – but it was Christian Dior’s elaborate Resort 20 show in Marrakech that garnered the most attention. Mindful of the potential for cultural missteps, Christian Dior’s artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri sought guidance from Anne Grosfilley, an anthropologist specialising in African textiles and fashion, collaborated with Ivory Coast-based studio Uniwax to create authentic wax print fabrics and tapped local artisans to provide expertise on woven pieces and set design. Among these fine details were the custom cushions, adorning seats, that guests scrambled for after the show, eager to bring a part of the wonder home.

CHRISTIAN DIOR Resort 20.
Jacquemus SS 20.

With inhabitants who spend the majority of the year anticipating summer holidays, if not a trip someplace warmer, wear thongs unironically (long before they flipped back into the fashion zeitgeist), and on mention still conjures the nostalgia of an early 90s Elle Macpherson on a white sand beach (I imagine), Australia seems ideally poised to enjoy the potential of a Resort season. So it checked out when in 2016 Sydney’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia made a play to its strengths and aligned with Resort’s international schedule.

Among the brands garnering cross-country interest in the wake of this move is Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen’s Matteau, the ultimate cool-girl swimwear label that celebrated a further expansion into ready-to-wear with its first show for MBFWA Resort 20. Cue the classically referenced modernity that the brand does so well: minimal lines that don’t forget the earthiness of their prospective surrounds. Floor grazing cotton skirts and airy tailoring that feel so fresh while evoking nostalgia, even if it’s for the summers you wish you’d experienced.

It seemed intuitive, given Matteau began with the bikinis its founders couldn’t track down, that it should evolve into the throw-on dresses and two-pieces they wanted to pack. “We had both been to a friend’s beach wedding overseas and wanted a variety of things to wear over the week – to dinners, the ceremony and day-to day to the beach,” explains Hamer of the collection’s genesis.

“A lot of this collection came from working out what those pieces would be and how to make the perfect wardrobe for a trip like that – where you can literally just pack a small suitcase of Matteau and be good to go for all kinds of adventures.”

For sisters Hamer and Heinsen, growing up to the ebb and flow of an Australian summer has proved a resounding influence. “Having spent so much time by the water in our youth and as adults has been like having an education in beach culture and style,” Hamer tells.

“That’s the Matteau lifestyle; it’s positive, uplifting, healthy, assertive and confident, all the things you want to feel when you’re somewhere warm and enjoying life.”

Similarly, in creating their collections, the two imagine their muse’s immersion in the world beyond fashion. “We look at art, furniture, interiors, history,” explains Hamer, “always trying to place our women in and around those things.”

In the eyes of Marina Afonina – founder of fellow Australian brand Albus Lumen – the trend toward a holistic personal aesthetic is reflective, too, of a connection with our inner landscapes. “Woman are more aware of the inner self,” she says. “Which leads the way they dress, into their lifestyle and life approach.” 

Another brand making waves on a world stage with pieces inspired by – in Afonina’s words – “a way of living; comfort, discovery, travel, state of mind”, Albus Lumen forwent the MBFWA runway for Resort 20. Instead the label celebrated the launch of a new homeware collection christened Albus Lumen Casa. For Afonina, it was anything but a diversion. “Albus Lumen is a lifestyle brand,” she explains. “For us to extend into [the] Casa range was just a natural progression.”

Much like Albus Lumen’s serene ready-to-wear offering, the first Casa collection was one of cult favourites waiting to happen. A collaboration with ceramicist Alana Wilson and astrologer Srna Vuckovic, the resulting pieces appear made for the modern woman who wants to express herself not just through her wardrobe, but her home.

MATTEAU Resort 20.
MATTEAU Resort 20.

Designer and consultant Emily Oberg is one of them. A creator in the leisurewear space – perhaps this era’s most pervasive example of fashion’s swing to the lifestyle-friendly – her latest project Sporty & Rich represents a cycle of inspiration between personal adornments and aesthetically pleasing surrounds.

The associated clothing range is a collection of nostalgic sport-luxe pieces that Oberg describes (note the internet age concept) as “merch” for her Instagram feed: a visual immersion of lush interiors, 90s magazine spreads, vintage Calvin Klein campaigns and other such odes to fresh beauty. “The whole feed is what I want my life to look like,” she tells.“I used to be obsessed by fashion and clothes but in the last couple of years my sensibilities have changed … Interior design books from the 80s and 90s are my favourite …

“I’m very affected by the environment that I’m in and my surroundings so having a beautiful home and collecting vintage furniture pieces is much more important to me than buying clothes.”

And she knows she’s not alone. “I think now we are … following along with this phenomenon where everything has an aesthetic, whereas a few years ago it was less important … Instagram has also made this a thing … People are learning that they can curate every part of their lives …”

Of course, outside appearances are only part of the equation. While our interiors, like our clothing, tell a story of who we are – our desire to curate our surrounds goes deeper. If you need a reason to invest in that La Chaise lounge chair, know that there’s scientific evidence to suggest that the human mind finds comfort in curved shapes. And your desire for the room with the big window could be traced back to a need for a ‘duality of prospect and refuge’ hypothesised in environmental psychology.

With inhabitants who spend the majority of the year anticipating summer holidays, if not a trip someplace warmer, wear thongs unironically (long before they flipped back into the fashion zeitgeist), and on mention still conjures the nostalgia of an early 90s Elle Macpherson on a white sand beach (I imagine), Australia seems ideally poised to enjoy the potential of a Resort season. So it checked out when in 2016 Sydney’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia made a play to its strengths and aligned with Resort’s international schedule.

Among the brands garnering cross-country interest in the wake of this move is Ilona Hamer and Peta Heinsen’s Matteau, the ultimate cool-girl swimwear label that celebrated a further expansion into ready-to-wear with its first show for MBFWA Resort 20. Cue the classically referenced modernity that the brand does so well: minimal lines that don’t forget the earthiness of their prospective surrounds. Floor grazing cotton skirts and airy tailoring that feel so fresh while evoking nostalgia, even if it’s for the summers you wish you’d experienced.

It seemed intuitive, given Matteau began with the bikinis its founders couldn’t track down, that it should evolve into the throw-on dresses and two-pieces they wanted to pack. “We had both been to a friend’s beach wedding overseas and wanted a variety of things to wear over the week – to dinners, the ceremony and day-to day to the beach,” explains Hamer of the collection’s genesis.

“A lot of this collection came from working out what those pieces would be and how to make the perfect wardrobe for a trip like that – where you can literally just pack a small suitcase of Matteau and be good to go for all kinds of adventures.”

For sisters Hamer and Heinsen, growing up to the ebb and flow of an Australian summer has proved a resounding influence. “Having spent so much time by the water in our youth and as adults has been like having an education in beach culture and style,” Hamer tells.

 

“That’s the Matteau lifestyle; it’s positive, uplifting, healthy, assertive and confident, all the things you want to feel when you’re somewhere warm and enjoying life.”

 

Similarly, in creating their collections, the two imagine their muse’s immersion in the world beyond fashion. “We look at art, furniture, interiors, history,” explains Hamer, “always trying to place our women in and around those things.”

In the eyes of Marina Afonina – founder of fellow Australian brand Albus Lumen – the trend toward a holistic personal aesthetic is reflective, too, of a connection with our inner landscapes. “Woman are more aware of the inner self,” she says. “Which leads the way they dress, into their lifestyle and life approach.” 

Another brand making waves on a world stage with pieces inspired by – in Afonina’s words – “a way of living; comfort, discovery, travel, state of mind”, Albus Lumen forwent the MBFWA runway for Resort 20. Instead the label celebrated the launch of a new homeware collection christened Albus Lumen Casa. For Afonina, it was anything but a diversion. “Albus Lumen is a lifestyle brand,” she explains. “For us to extend into [the] Casa range was just a natural progression.”

Much like Albus Lumen’s serene ready-to-wear offering, the first Casa collection was one of cult favourites waiting to happen. A collaboration with ceramicist Alana Wilson and astrologer Srna Vuckovic, the resulting pieces appear made for the modern woman who wants to express herself not just through her wardrobe, but her home.

Designer and consultant Emily Oberg is one of them. A creator in the leisurewear space – perhaps this era’s most pervasive example of fashion’s swing to the lifestyle-friendly – her latest project Sporty & Rich represents a cycle of inspiration between personal adornments and aesthetically pleasing surrounds.

The associated clothing range is a collection of nostalgic sport-luxe pieces that Oberg describes (note the internet age concept) as “merch” for her Instagram feed: a visual immersion of lush interiors, 90s magazine spreads, vintage Calvin Klein campaigns and other such odes to fresh beauty. “The whole feed is what I want my life to look like,” she tells.“I used to be obsessed by fashion and clothes but in the last couple of years my sensibilities have changed … Interior design books from the 80s and 90s are my favourite …

“I’m very affected by the environment that I’m in and my surroundings so having a beautiful home and collecting vintage furniture pieces is much more important to me than buying clothes.”

And she knows she’s not alone. “I think now we are … following along with this phenomenon where everything has an aesthetic, whereas a few years ago it was less important … Instagram has also made this a thing … People are learning that they can curate every part of their lives …”

Of course, outside appearances are only part of the equation. While our interiors, like our clothing, tell a story of who we are – our desire to curate our surrounds goes deeper. If you need a reason to invest in that La Chaise lounge chair, know that there’s scientific evidence to suggest that the human mind finds comfort in curved shapes. And your desire for the room with the big window could be traced back to a need for a ‘duality of prospect and refuge’ hypothesised in environmental psychology.

Similarly, being amidst the wilderness is associated with lowered levels of stress hormones, and staring at the ocean on a beachside holiday can change the frequency of our brain waves, engaging a mild meditative state.

Albus Lumen Casa, PHOTOGRAPHY Saskia Wilson.
Albus Lumen Casa, PHOTOGRAPHY Saskia Wilson.

So how to tap into an environmental extension of self while avoiding wasteful consumption, a home more Instagrammable than liveable, or, to quote the writer Chuck Palahniuk, a sofa that ‘owns you’? The first step may be putting the phone down and tapping into your own energy. Knowing the best furniture is vintage. Investing in pieces that will truly make your holiday more effortless. Walking to the beach or catching a train to the mountains. Taking note of the surrounds that make you feel spontaneously at ease, and making them a part of your world. Remembering, you’re always coming home to yourself.