THE NEW BLING: This month we’re leaning into the idea of excess, and what it means to different people.
For designer to the stars Christian Cowan, excess is defined as just beyond the point of need. “So you could say I do extreme excess,” he says with a laugh. “You don’t need 10,000 crystals on your polo dress…but you definitely want them.” He’s referring to his latest collection, which was just unveiled at New York Fashion Week before a star-studded front row that included RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Aquaria, model Slick Woods, and Pose star Mj Rodriguez.
His latest collection, which Women’s Wear Daily described as “[parodying the culture of excessive oversharing on social media,” featured high heels with silver and gold watches for straps among other Cowan signatures—checkerboard print, sweatsuits, and plenty of glitter. Basically, Cowan wants to give people something to talk about, to gaze at, and to lust over.
Cowan’s penchant for unabashed excess has been a key ingredient in skyrocketing the 24-year-old’s career. After all, it was a pink glitter suit that Lady Gaga wore in 2014 that helped put him on the map. And he’s nothing if not appreciative of the warm reception he’s received since making his NYFW debut just months after his graduation from Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion in 2016. Editors quickly took notice, as did stylists, who came to depend on Cowan for looks that undulated between high fashion and camp to the point of drag—and in doing so as successfully as he did, making one question the difference between the two at all.
Next up for the 2018 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist: He’s back to his cartoon “roots,” partnering with The Powerpuff Girls on a new collection, some of which was seen on his Fall 2019 runway. (By roots, we’re merely referencing Cowan’s 2018 appearance on American Dad.) The theme of the offering, set to debut on International Women’s Day, March 8th, is girl power. It’s a natural fit, considering Cowan’s resume of outfitting some of the biggest female entertainers alive, including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Cardi B, Ariana Grande, and Nicki Minaj.
The partnership began when the Powerpuff Girls recreated Cardi B’s debut album cover look (which Cowan designed).
“Of course, for millions of girls around the world, it showed powerful, confident, and in-charge girls saving themselves,” he says of the television series. “But also, as a boy who didn’t identify with action men and GI Joe’s, Powerpuff Girls offered this world full of color and excitement. I was hooked.”
One thing immediately obvious about this collection is the vibrancy of the color palette, including fluorescent pinks and neon yellows, and the use of interesting materials, including feathered skirts and crystal trimming. In other words, no part of the DNA of Cowan was expensed in the effort to integrate the fictional kindergarten-aged superheroes into his aesthetic. “We’ve seen many collaborations with fashion houses where it’s mostly graphics printed on simple items,” he says. “I want to truly fuse the world of the Powerpuff Girls and high-fashion.”
He describes the Cowan aesthetic, now seen across five collections (in addition to custom pieces created for celebs), as confident, empowering, bold, and unafraid. Sounds just like girl power to us.