What’s “in” next season? Slapstick comedy, baby! And from the looks of it, kneepads.
Florence-based brand AVAVAV recently debut its Spring/Summer ‘23 collection at Milan Fashion Week—an event that proved much more joyful and eccentric than London’s wacky and morose shows, which were filled with half-baked nods to the late Queen Elizabeth. As AVAVAV’s models walked down the runway in oversized knee-high boots and gaudy, branded ‘fits, they fell to their knees. Literally. Every single one of them dramatically tripped, slipped, and stumbled down the catwalk. Even AVAVAV’s creative director, Beate Karlsson, did a pratfall as she made her way out at the end of the show. Commitment to the bit!
Were the falls an homage to Naomi Campbell’s iconic tumble in Vivienne Westwood Fall/Winter 1993? Or perhaps the gimmick is a nod to my personal favorite high fashion plummet, Kamila Wawrzyniak barely making it back down the Vivienne Westwood 2004 Paris Fashion Week runway. (Does Westwood have a long-con at play here?) That fall is only as good as Washington D.C. news anchors Jim Vance and George Michael losing their minds at it. There’s also the teetering Maria LaFuente model barely making her way back across a gold-glittered runway during Madrid Fashion Week. As long as models have been walking, they’ve been falling.
Cosmically, yes, the AVAVAV show pays reverence to all of these incidents. And somewhere Moe, Larry, and Curley are smiling down on it all. But Karlsson explained in an interview with HypeBae that she “wanted to do a parody of a fashion show to go with the pathetic theme of this collection, and of fashion’s extreme superficiality, at a time when so many fake richness but risk to fall down hard.”
AVAVAV tiptoes the line between costume and clothes, notably with their claw-like monster boots. Personally, I love any drama originating from outside of the outfits at these shows. And after watching some celebrities be very, very bad at walking down a runway—and having Tyra Banks’ harassing tirades drilled into me at a formative age—I know that it takes skill to command attention on the catwalk. But it can also be very boring. Sorry! So yes, let me see these models tackle a Clowning 101 pratfall. Though, again, I hope their knees and ankles are okay. Or, at the very least, I hope they get hazard pay.
Karlsson’s decision to make nouveau-riche-looking models eat shit on the runway really captures the moment we are living in. It’s very “eat the rich” and baby, my bib is on and I’m pounding my knife and fork readily on the table. I’ve watched enough of these runway shows that feel so impersonal and elevated in a stand-offish way. I love the self-deprecating humor and AVAVAV’s indulgence in poking fun at the industry. It’s literally bringing these models down a notch.
Proverb 24:17-18 reads, “Don’t rejoice when your enemies fall.” Ah, but what if it is very, very funny when they do?