TikTok’s algorithm works in ways that I will never understand, but my “For You” page is calculated in such a way that I have largely been shielded from this strawberry dress, which the New York Times has informed me is “viral.” A brief glance at the dress confirms one irrefutable fact to me: it only looks good on Tess Holliday, a plus-size influencer and model who tweeted that she was dragged online for wearing the thing to the Grammys in January.
The dress in question costs $490 and is made by designer Lirika Matoshi. There’s also an accompanying face mask that costs $50. My best guess is that the reason the dress has gone viral is due in part to the fact that influencers can now match their good-for-pictures-and-not-much-else ‘fits to the masks they must wear in public because we are living in a pandemic. Matoshi’s other offerings are similar to this dress, but strawberries are having a moment, as evidenced by these white Crocs, printed with strawberries, that have also gone viral by New York Magazine’s The Strategist’s dubious metrics.
It makes sense that this dress is popular on TikTok because it is highly impractical for everyday wear but photographs very well; imagine a brisk wind blowing across the waifish body of some rando on social media, catching the pleats of this garment in its crosshairs. Beautiful. Evocative. Glamourous. Twee. But also, this is the precise sort of dress that Liesel from The Sound of Music would’ve worn to chase a burgeoning Nazi around a gazebo at night, begging for a kiss. Much like the ubiquitous nap dresses from Instagram companies like Hill House, and the preponderance of square-necked tops meant to center the breasts and the clavicle, Matoshi’s tulle confections are updated costumes for a 1950s starlet—think Judy Holliday swanning about a soundstage in Bells Are Ringing. On thinner bodies, the dress skews a tiny bit fascist. Returning to The Sound of Music for just one moment, I have to imagine that the Baroness would’ve shimmied her way into an iteration of this thing for the big party, if only it had been available. But on Tess Holliday, the dress is sublime.
Ensconced in yards and yards of tulle, Holliday looks like a cream puff, but in a good way. It’s also the sort of fantasy that plus size shoppers only dreamed of, in the dark days before ASOS Curve and Eloquii’s arrival. Stacy London and What Not To Wear perpetuated the false myth that plus size women should dress to minimize their size, pushing ruching and wrap dresses on an entire generation of women who internalized the message that they must hide their bodies and make them look smaller; a tulle dress covered in strawberries is the ideological opposite of that directive. It is its own celebration.