Coming into selkie The spring/summer 2023 show venue was akin to joining an unapologetic celebration of all shapes, sizes, and forms of femininity. Not just because of the casting, but the audience itself was a true testament to the cult following of the brand that founder Kimberley Gordon created. At any other fashion event, she might see a few celebrities in the front row wearing the label. But at Selkie’s second appearance during New York Fashion Week, almost everyone was wearing something from the line, and the style was incredibly varied: there were full-blown gothic witch looks. Lolitastyle outfits and formal dresses galore.
“It’s like a girl code,” Gordon tells us of the Selkie community, a day before the show, which took place late last week at the 99 Scott Industrial Precinct in Brooklyn. For the occasion, sheer pink fabric was hung from all the windows and sunlight filtered over the concrete floors in somber rays, making the space look like a secret hideout from a haunting movie. Since Selkie’s inception, Gordon has made it his mission to store every piece down to 5X size. “I’ve always been surrounded by and attracted to women,” he says. “And I think it’s a real reflection of what’s inside the brand.”
A model walks the runway at the Selkie Spring/Summer 2023 show.
Paolo Lanzi / Gorunway.com
Selkie’s spring/summer 2023 show was not only definitely the most size-diverse runway show in all of NYFW, but it was also probably the most welcoming of femininity, with ruffles, bows, ruffles, oversized collars and bags that looked like pillows. Neither model wore pants! Gordon was inspired by the film. The last unicorn and paid homage to it with a collection that took the whimsical vibes and transformed them into the sugar-spun clothes that walked the runway. “My idea of The last unicorn it’s this girl who lives in the city who doesn’t know she’s a unicorn,” she says. “Or maybe she is the daughter of the last unicorn. She’s kind of an outsider, someone she never feels like she fits in, but she dresses wild and free.”
Gordon launched Selkie into the world in 2018, after previously creating women’s casual brand Wildfox, a favorite of cool girls of the Tumblr era, known for its fine-knit hoodies and t-shirts covered in whimsical prints and drawings. . He studied film and takes most of his inspiration from that kind of storytelling, resulting in collections inspired by everything from vampires to ’60s-era icons. “I’m always looking for a way to tell a story, because the fashion for me is more than just clothes, it’s like you suddenly put on characters”.
Selkie’s puff dress.
Paolo Lanzi / Gorunway.com
Selkie was born with the puffy dress, and a few other staples that feel utterly feminine and inherently designed with the feminine gaze in mind. The puff dress, in all its glory, is an incredibly voluminous, slightly floaty hyper-short dress with a strong empire waist, which Selkie has reinterpreted from the ground up, in everything from rainbow hues to cloud prints and patterns inspired by Marie Antoinette.
“When I started the company, I did everything in Los Angeles and had dreams of making very princess dresses,” says Gordon. “There’s still something really romantic about that silhouette, and her story is really interesting. The doll story in general is kind of feminist.” Since the rise of the brand’s puffy dress, it has gone viral on tik tok and racked up numerous fast-fashion knockoffs, but the silhouette remains intrinsically key to the brand’s defining aesthetic, even despite the dress’s ubiquity. “This empire waist silhouette will always be the traditional Selkie look,” says Gordon.
It’s been one of the least size-diverse fashion week seasons in years and, in many ways, it feels like we’re stepping back when brands with the biggest names, and therefore shocks, don’t do any effort to choose at least one. model that does not fit the traditional fashion size category. That’s one of the reasons Selkie attracted so many people this season and last: “When I started the company, I knew I wanted to have size inclusion,” says Gordon. “But that to me means having silhouettes that can actually be worn universally. I realized, I have to look at myself. Like, what’s my fatphobia? What is my story? Why didn’t I do it before with my first brand? I think a lot of us have such a serious fat phobia, so ingrained in us from such a young age, that we can’t really even see it’s there.”
It’s not about being looked at, it’s about looking at yourself [and] taking up space in your own life.”
Beyond the inclusion aspect, the Selkie brand drives home the deep feeling of nostalgia that many of us crave right now. We are living in an era where our culture is currently obsessed with dolls, in all different ways, and Selkie plays with that, too: “Having this big puffy dress creates a kind of figure that’s really interesting, and it’s very doll-like,” Gordon says of the allure of the puffy dress. “A lot of the women who want to dress this way, I think they’re interested in dolls, or they were when they were little. There’s something so lovely about touching this childhood memory or nostalgia.”
A Selkie SS23 look.
Paolo Lanzi / Gorunway.com
The other thing about the coveted Selkie dresses? They take up space, and a lot of it, which is a powerful move in the age of being a woman in 2022. It’s not uncommon for you to knock something over in a crowded space while wearing one, and it’s also likely you’ll take up more than one seat in a dress. puffy “When you put it on, you’re literally taking up more space,” says Gordon. “But it’s not about being looked at, it’s about looking at yourself [and] taking up space in your own life. A lot of us, I think, feel like we have to hide, and there have been times in my life where I just wanted to disappear, and I really hope to change that feeling for women in general.”
It’s clear that Selkie is bringing something to fashion week that is much needed. Perhaps the only thing missing from the Selkie universe is age diversity on the catwalk. Certainly, there were many older women wearing gloriously large dresses in the front row. Perhaps the brand’s cool-girl status is also ingrained in the celebratory vibes of it all. The pandemic really seems to be over recently, and dressing up in a strikingly feminine dress makes a powerful statement in an everyday setting.
“When they put on that dress, they feel like crying or celebrating,” says Gordon. “I have a girl on the show that I think she never dresses this way; She is very shy. And she looked in the mirror and she had to look away and look back.” Perhaps most exciting of all is leaning into dressing in ways that make her feel totally and unabashedly like a celebration of childhood.
Kristen Bateman is a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar. Her first fashion article was published in Italian Vogue during her freshman year of high school. Since then, she has interned and contributed to WWD, Glamour, Lucky, iD, Marie Claire and more. She created and writes the #ChicEats column and covers fashion and culture for Bazaar. When she’s not writing, she follows the latest runway collections, dyes her hair to match her mood, and practices her Italian in hopes of getting 90% off Prada in stores. from Tuscany. She loves vintage shopping, desserts, and cats.
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