Fashion Week

Why Christian Cowan Channeled The 2000s For His NYFW Film

"I wanted to create a feeling of celebration for a party brand when the party isn’t possible."

Getty Images

Christian Cowan wants you to dress like it’s 1999. Or, maybe more accurately, 2004.

That’s the year the Motorola razr made its debut and forever changed cellular phones as we know them. Gone were the clunky brick phones that weighed down your jean pockets and took up too much space in your pochette purse. The razr signaled a sleeker, more modern era filled with boundless optimism about the new millennium.

And that’s precisely the spirit Cowan is aiming to convey with his Fall 2021 collection. He provides escapism through zippered and bow-accented dresses, oversized feathered hats, Swarovski-covered pieces, and lots of baby pink velvet.

Alongside harsh gold chain details and leather dresses with stud embellishments, the collection also includes more delicate pieces with lace accents, inspired by Cowan’s grandmother, who was a lace maker in Spain.

“With this collection, I wanted to create a feeling of celebration for a party brand when the party isn’t possible,” Cowan tells Bustle. “It reads as an elevated roundup of the best of the label, with party pieces as eccentric as they are effortless to wear, spiced up with my high-octane aesthetic. This season, I wanted to modernize the spirit of the 2000s while also giving a nod to the fact that when COVID-19 is under control, there will be a big return to parties, à la the roaring ‘20s.”

Christian Cowan

It makes perfect sense, then, that the 25-year-old designer would collaborate with Motorola on a short film and lookbook to unveil his latest collection, starring the OG razr influencer Paris Hilton alongside Dorinda Medley from Real Housewives of New York, Justine Skye, SNL's Chloe Fineman, Jari Jones, and Richie Shazam. “You can’t deny, Paris and the razr together is a match made in heaven,” Cowan says.

The short film, titled “A Fashion Thing,” takes place in the Pierre Hotel in New York City and features an original song by Slayyyter. With both the film and lookbook, Cowan shares that he really wanted to “bring the 2000s to 2021.”

“There’s an optimism for what’s to come after all this,” he says. “Reconnecting with those who make us happy. The razr made total sense, as it’s modern, it’s iconic, and it connects us to our loved ones. I adore the Swarovski crystal zip mini dress with the matching razr — it’s so fun.”

The campaign lookbook is another playful nod to the ‘90s and ‘00s, as the images were entirely inspired by classic movie posters from the time including Mean Girls, Heathers, B.A.P.S., Legally Blonde, and Clueless.

Christian Cowan

“Movies connect people to a time in someone’s life or someone they watched it with,” Cowan says. “My goal is to evoke that connection, that nostalgia when viewing my FW21 campaign. My favorite memory from the early ‘00s that has stuck with me was when my mom bought my siblings and I the DVD for Mean Girls. It really showed me the connection between humor and glamour.”

The early 2000s also taught Cowan how much influence a single item can carry, a philosophy that’s evident in his designs.

“My favorite trend from the early ‘00s is definitely the power of an accessory, and more so your phone being one of them,” he says. “To this day, we still carry our phones everywhere. It is our true everyday accessory.”

Christian Cowan