NYFW: Collina Strada Went All Out and Waaay Out


From my screen, the untz-untz thump of a beat is introduced, then interrupted by a cowbell. Suddenly: An undulating digital landscape covered in a fruit pattern, dotted with tropical print CGI cows. Kathleen McCain Engman, with a look that could kill—two braids sprouting from her bowl cut—saunters (literally, there’s no other word for it) on screen and begins to groove.

I am not on drugs, though I am sure I could be. Thus begins the Collina Strada SS21 digital presentation titled “Change is Cute.”

A year ago I wrote a breathless play-by-play report of the SS20 show because I was feeling, um, breathless in the best way. I am back. I’m ready to do the same. Almost like live-Tweeting. This time, from the perch of my dining room table, wearing a malodorous sweatshirt. I recommend playing this video while pulling up the commentary in another tab so you can follow along with my word salad.

00:13 This is just a personal reminder for me that I should walk with my hips forward like this more often. Okay, carry on.

00:21 A close-up of a tie-dye tee that says “vulnerability” in either sequin or rhinestone. I have the cash right now.

00:22 Mallory confirms that the edit team is tuned in.

00:27 I already have too much commentary. But Precious Okoyomon carrying her small earth angel child Rainbow? The heart can only take so much.

00:40 Who is she

00:51 “I care a lot and I wear Collina Strada” or “I care a lotta, I wear Collina Strada” is maybe one of the smartest marketing slogans…… I have heard in my 27 years of living.

1:00 Who is she

1:17 Ok. We’ve got two dancing CGI cows flanking HAWA. Vibes are immaculate.

1:31 I would seriously like to know who she is. I would seriously like to commend this 3D animator. I am sweating.

1:38 The solar panels…🥺

2:10 The girl in the back is all of us. Also, man, I miss Clip Art.


2:40 On a serious note, I simply love the incorporation of masks into the show. It’s a reminder that this pandemic is far from over, that living with masks is non-optional, and yet—there are ways to fold them into your life that don’t feel so limiting. Collina Strada was one of the first designers to be responsive to the need for masks. And that’s pretty cool.

3:18 No, I have not NOT noticed the hairpieces, they are incredible.

3:34 Genuinely waiting for a thumb-thumb to pop out. Genuinely feel like I’m experiencing Gulla Gulla Island on drugs. Like… Blue skidoo we can, too. Anyone?

3:46 ALERT! We have a baby in a flower headpiece. Teletubbies vibes.

4:10 I’m sorry I can’t stop talking, but the “Sustainability” briefs? THE “SUSTAINABILITY” BRIEFS? Call the Coast Guard.

4:19 I just want to know who she is.

4:33 Another serious note, just because it’s worth acknowledging this amidst all the showstopping, delightful mayhem: Hillary Taymour’s casting rocks. Power to a designer who sees the importance in creating cool, sustainable designer garments for everyone in a landscape that still somehow has not been able to knock that into their skulls.

5:23 The refrain of “Climate change is really sad” is echoing in my brain. Utterly relevant, deeply true at this critical juncture given the wildfires enveloping our country. I donated to this relief fund today with a heavy heart.

6:30 I am ready to pay cash… for this sweatshirt. As well as this dog. And his blonde wig.

7:14 Gonna need an ID on those sneakers, girl.

7:46 Am I or am I not in Grizzly Bear’s “Ready, Able” music video? Anyone? …Anyone.

8:21 Apocalyptic raining frogs vibes. Anyone? Sunday School? Anyone.

9:18 Work the runway, mama!

9:28 “I’m happy as a clam in the sand / We’ll face climate change as best as we can” <– Interestingly, my next tattoo

10:06 Again, I would like to take a moment to applaud this 3D animator, whose name I have just found: Jefferson Wenzel. Big round of applause for Jefferson. I’m serious.

10:39 Okay, I can tell we’re coming to the close with this euphoric montage.

In which case I’ll just say: I’m floored. I am sweating both on my brow and under my pits, and the thermostat claims it’s only 71 degrees in here. How thrilling to see such an irreverent, thoughtful, trippy, rambunctious, off-the-wall, completely democratized show for Fashion Week? So often, lately, it feels like life is dragging us by our hair, but, in its own strange way, this show felt to me like “hope.” Hope for fashion, maybe some hope for our political and ecological future, and certainly hope for serious change in the industry. After all, change (as evidence below) is cute.

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