Alpine glamour snowballs despite lack of off-piste action

We may not be able to travel, and spring may be within touching distance, but the fantasy of Alpine glamour has never been stronger in the fashion world.

This week Lady Gaga posted a photo from the set of her forthcoming film, House of Gucci, directed by Ridley Scott and inspired by the true story of fashion’s grisliest power couple. In the on-set photo, captioned “Mr and Mrs Gucci”, Lady Gaga wears a white fur hat and is draped in gold jewellery, while her co-star, Adam Driver, wears a cable-knit jumper and oversized glasses. Against the backdrop of a snowcapped mountain, they are the epitome of fashion’s latest obsession: ski-core.

Lockdown has inspired a very glamorous sort of Fomo (fear of missing out) with fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Miu Miu conceptualising their autumn/winter collections on-piste. Beyoncé also channelled her inner snow queen in advertising for the Ivy Park x Adidas collection.

Thom Browne has put the former Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn front and centre of his snowcapped, gender-neutral collection for autumn/winter 21 (a fantasia of The Wizard of Oz on ice) and Eudon Choi’s new collection is inspired by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s Gstaad getaway – Chalet Ariel – which played host to Jackie Kennedy and Marlene Dietrich.

“I loved the idea of Elizabeth Taylor entertaining her glamorous guests at Chalet Ariel in Gstaad,” said Choi. “Apparently she was a great hostess and her après-ski parties were legendary. The chalet was also her place of escape when she was one of the most famous women in the world and [offered her] that sense of retreat.”

Choi said that being in lockdown got him dreaming. “I guess when we can’t travel, we dream of the places we have always wanted to visit,” he said. “My own ongoing desire for escapism has become central to my creative process during the pandemic.” Indeed, the over-the-top, luxury of the vintage ski jetset, fits into fashion’s current aesthetic for fantastic nostalgia.

Historically, skiing wasn’t always the home of timeless glamour. It was only after Alpine skiing debuted at the Olympics in 1936 as a standalone event that skiwear went from lumpen to more streamlined. Dior and Pucci created sports lines around the same time, and ski labels such as Bogner, which began in 1932, also launched.

The ski looks in 2021 reference not onlyElizabeth Taylor and Veruschka in the 60s, but also 70s brands such as Spyder and neon-coloured 80s ski trends.

Ski-core also ties into our need to embrace outdoor clothes as fashion items, when lockdown allows socialising outside again, exemplified by the North Face puffer jacket – searches for which grew by 243% between November and February of this year, according to Lyst.

“With the great outdoors becoming the UK’s gym and social hangout, cold-weather products have a more versatile lease of life,” said Emily Bezzant, vice-president of retail and analysis at Edited. “More ski-related products sold out during 2020 than 2019.”

Chelsea Power, a senior buyer at Matchesfashion, agreed. “Items that offer comfort, warmth and style have been extremely popular,” she said. “Ski brands have the technical ability to provide all these features.”

The effortless glamour of skiing is something we all might be craving in what we hope may turn into the roaring 20s. “I do think that once this is all over people will want to get out and celebrate,” said Choi. “I guess when we can’t travel, we dream of the places we have always wanted to visit.”

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