While mushrooms are beautiful to look at, they seem to give even more to the fashion world. Yesterday, my colleague, senior fashion news writer Emily Farra, mentioned to me that she had received mushroom leather in the mail last week. She also pointed out that the Twitter user @bxxwie created a thread comparing runway images to mushrooms: Radiant orange polypores were compared to a searing tangerine dress at Christopher John Rogers from fall 2020, purple clavaria zollingeri to a tiered look at Balmain spring 2019, and a smooth and curvy alien panis lecomtei to a bulbous skirt on a dress at Alexander McQueen spring 2007.
Of course, while mushrooms cut an interesting, sometimes droopy, shape, there is another level to their playful appeal. Nicolas Atkins of Electro Magnetic Studios, the brain behind Hadid’s mushroom necklace, created them as part of a series of protective talismans for loved ones. “The mushroom—for me—represents an ancient knowledge. Something primordial. Communication in a language we will never understand,” he says. “The pendant comes from a simple place: protection from miscommunications and bad trips!” I asked my colleague, living and beauty editor Ella Riley-Adams, who had gone to the Telluride Mushroom Festival in Colorado in September 2019, about the intersection of the fashion world and mycology. People attended in funky costumes, some in gothic incarnations of the shroud-y dead-man’s-finger or the fire-engine red, white-dotted fly agaric. One man even carried a mushroom cane topped with a morel! I wanted to transport myself to the festival, pre-COVID-19, and dress up with a portobello hat. And maybe that’s why mushrooms are having a moment, because they can symbolize transportation and transformation, which is in perilously short supply at the moment.
Mushrooms (at least the magic, hallucinogenic variety) have a habit of doing that. Riley-Adams agrees about the trip-meets-escapist theory, which might explain the shroom boom in fashion. “I think at a time when we’re experiencing such chaos and seeking ‘wellness’ in the face of it, mushrooms have become attractive because not only do they have health benefits for our bodies, but they’re also mind-expanding,” she says. “And they’re beautiful to look at!”