The ocean doesn't give a shit about us. It's indifferent, vast, and indisputably terrifying. Despite these objective truths, humans continue to derive a sense of calm and rejuvenation from a merciless, massive body of water. The sea and the shoreline have long been symbols of relief and fantasy, particularly in fashion. We hold onto maritime motifs as a reminder to us that peace, despite the inherent chaos of being alive, is attainable, but just probably not where we physically are.
In 2012, Versace sent dreamy pastels emblazoned with sea creatures across its spring ready-to-wear runway for an extremely literal take on the fantasy that lies under the sea. This yearning to be close to the water returned this summer, manifesting itself through the rise of seashell jewelry. Tiny shell earrings, muted scallop pendants, and heavy conch shells manipulated into cuffs offered a respite from the monotony of the day-to-day, and the ease of a life lived by the sea felt like it found its way across several NYFW presentations.
Critic-favorite Eckhaus Latta's breezy SS19 knits, presented this week, included shredded pieces that evoked a tattered by the salt and sea look while the expertly-tailored silhouettes of Priscavera's elegant slip dresses moved effortlessly like water. Area had a collection heavy on glamorous, fisherman-friendly nets and Ukrainian designer Svetlana Bevza imbued her collection with more on-the-nose inspirations from below the water. There was seashell detailing on purses and tops and mussels-inspired earrings and brooches, while the rest of the collection had the essence of someone who's extremely well-rested after a seaside getaway.
This trend as a whole reminds me a little of another that took us by storm this summer, especially in its desire for escapism: the omnipresent beaded bag. The candy-colored, tactile bag was the purse du jour of every cool NYC fashion-type and directly correlated with our obsession with nostalgia since it's literally the type of toy-cum-accessory you'd trot around in elementary school. At the end of the day, we're all looking to dodge reality — it's why Guillermo Del Toro's The Shape of Water swept at the Oscars, and why obsessions with mermaids follows people into adulthood. If it's fantasy we're after, all the better to turn to the sea with its mystery and indifference, than to regress to childhood.
Thumbnail via Bevza's Instagram.