AN ODE TO BLUE
The biggest makeup trend to come off the runway for SS22? All-out colour.
Author: Joe Blogs Photographer: JANE DOE
Blue Monday, aka, the most depressing day of the year is – you guessed it - a pretty miserable day. From the Christmas comedown to the back to work blues, January is famous for its bad vibes, the worst of which falls on Blue Monday, the 3rd Monday of the month. This year, we’re switching up the narrative and taking a moment to appreciate all things, well, blue.
Blue occupies a serious spot in the zeitgeist and is often at the centre of cultural moments - read: Picasso’s Blue Paintings, Betty Blue, Blue Is The Warmest Colour, Blue by Joni Mitchell, ‘It’s not just blue… it’s actually cerulean’ – we could go on. And yeah, it’s generally associated with sadness. But behind all the cliches, lies something special.
Freedom, intuition and imagination, blue plays a major role in art, creating a space for expression. It’s a way of exploring emotion and identity. Sometimes this takes the form of reinvention, for others it helps to access the power in pain. And over the past year, blue has taken centre stage, becoming a focal point in fashion, art and music. From the biggest brands to the hottest artists, blue has become a way to explore ourselves. Get ready to dive into the big wide world of blue.
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One of the most impactful blue moods of the past year? The cover of SZA’s sophomore record, SOS. The album released five years after her legendary debut, Ctrl, her second album has sent shockwaves through the music industry, and five weeks after it’s release it’s still topping the charts. Raw and vulnerable, it feels like an inner monologue. The Guardian reported that when talking about the project, SZA said: “I could burst into tears… I am effectively falling apart”, and she has hinted that this album will be her last.
Maybe that’s why the artwork hits so hard. Exploring themes of intimacy, isolation and womanhood, the image shows SZA sitting alone above a deep blue ocean. The image was inspired by picture taken of Princess Diana in 1997, a week before her death, and SZA wanted to pay homage to the isolation it conveyed. The image explores loneliness and identity and encapsulates the mood of the album – one which will likely be decade-defining.
But another moment we can’t get enough of? Lizzo’s homage to the painting Blue Monday by Annie Lee back in December. Lizzo paid tribute to the artwork on SNL through careful costuming and set design, while she performed Break Up Twice. The 1985 painting is a beloved artwork, in part for how it portrays feminine strength and Black resilience.
Appearing in a delicate white slip, hunched over and exhausted, Lizzo replicated the female figure in Lee’s self-portrait. Lee was known for her depictions of African American everyday life, and is a much-beloved artist, which is partly why Lizzo’s tribute was so impactful. Writing on Twitter, one of her fans discussed the impact: “Uniquely Black in America, Lizzo is unapologetic about her place in the cultural Zeitgeist. This hung in every Black household at the turn of the 21st century. It fully encapsulates our mood today. We are beyond tired”.
Blue offers a moment to pause, reflect and to explore ourselves. Both Lizzo and SZA have used blue to tell a story, share themselves and reflect on their identity. For SZA, blue has become a space for reinvention, while for Lizzo, it’s created an opportunity to explore her truth. Each moment is in its own way grounded by pain, but both art pieces feel hopeful and defiant, telling us it’s time to lean into the power of the blues.
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The fashion world has also been in a blue mood. From the runway to streetstyle, SS23 was awash with blues. Starting with Givenchy. Matthew M. Williams presented a series of utilitarian denim looks in deep, dirty blues, showing the colour’s capability for channelling serious attitude, with the Hadid sisters each sporting androgynous, head-to-toe denim looks. It’s easy to write off blue denim, but these Givenchy looks prove that the staple is anything but boring.
At Off-White, blue symbolized a moment for reinvention at the first runway show since the death of Virgil Abloh. The collection, which Abloh had started before his death in 2021, was decidedly hopeful. Speaking to Vogue, Ibrahim Kamara, Off-White’s image and art director said: “The show is a celebration, and it’s also about hope. Hope is opening doors, and that is something Virgil did beautifully until the very end”. From naval cut outs to oversized tailoring, lace inserts and all-out leather, Off-White’s SS23 show was filled with shocks of electric blue. The collection’s focus was simply the body, and blue led the way.
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Over at Acne Studios, Johnny Johansson’s SS23 collection mused on that something blue. Eccentric and playful, the collection was inspired by weddings, and featured a series of models that looked almost like brides, and almost like dolls. Blue showed up in a series of looks that explored femininity and sensuality. The first look? A white, lingerie-like dress that featured an oversized baby-blue bow. This was followed by a nearly naked blue dress that brings you back to the body, and as the show neared its end, there were a series of blue gingham looks that gave off Alice-in-Wonderland-meets-Dorothy-Gale energy.
At the AW23 menswear shows, the blue hype has continued. While the season is only just beginning, blue has been popping up in collections by JW Anderson, Gucci and Prada. At JW Anderson, it seemed jolts of blue were everywhere: in their cult bumper bag, in cowboy boots, in their frog clogs and in an oversized hoodie paired with bare legs. For Anderson, the statement-making power of blue reigned supreme. Over at Gucci, a more understated approach was taken, with blue appearing in several ‘Indie Sleaze’ style looks – from a blue blazer paired with black leather trousers to ‘90s inspired dirty denim. And at Prada? It was all about supersized outerwear, in everything from turquois to lapis.
A tool for expression, a moment for reflection and a space for art, we’re over trying to beat the blues… this year, we’re embracing them – and all they have to offer.
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