This Deflating Balloon Fashion Show is Strangely Soothing

Whatever higher power that gifted us the transfixing video of Shalom Harlow dancing during a Versace shoot has blessed us once more. On Thursday night, the graduating class of Central Saint Martins, the storied London design school, presented their final shows, and designer Fredrik Tjærandsen emerged as the class’s potential future star—not only because he won the L’Oréal Professional Young Talent Award, but also due to how utterly hypnotizing his designs are in motion.

In the first video that began making the rounds online just hours after the last looks cleared the runway, a model emerges, shrouded in a massive purple rubber orb over her body, legs clad in purple rubber shorts and candy-striped bands of rubber down to her ankles. She pauses midway down the runway, releases the inner end of the bubble from her head, letting the air trapped inside of the balloon push upwards and out; the orb transforms into a tube, like one of those unnerving balloon creatures at car washes, and then, slowly and then all at once, descends over her face and body, eventually settling on her hips as a skirt. Then, she starts walking again, the deflated balloon wobbling like barely-congealed Jell-o. Lying in bed, I watched it no fewer than eight times on repeat while pinned in place under a gravity blanket; I thought it might be the most soothed I’d ever felt.

Designer and fellow CSM alum Matty Bovan commented on Tjærandsen’s post about his show, “Congrats was beautiful” Billy Porter, who won the Met Gala, reacted more viscerally: “AWWWWWWWW!!!” he wrote on Interview magazine’s post about the show; same for Beth Ditto, who wrote, “Welp. I'm losing my shitty fucking mind .. don't mind me .. just giving up because nothing can follow this.” Meanwhile, Lindsay Lohan added, “A bit weird but cool.” (Okay.) And Courtney Love, our lord and savior of the slip dress, wrote, “Wow.”

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Hi here’s my em0ti0n4l schpill about @fredriktjaerandsen’s work I wrote on the way home from a very special evening. / “… the entire spectacle of it all built by the weightless matter bounded by this tension this softness this tautness! My goodness have you worn something that writes to you???!? Have you cared for a vessel you supplement, how spatially, you become charged- so differently, inadequately mobile… yet you learn, it’s an accommodation, a negotiation a dance a talk, an empathy for this new form- I don’t know as much as you do not. “Let’s try now, bear with me.” A gamble a trust a codependency !! You become my womb and I am your moving mother.” / I’m so bloody taken I got to be part of this vision and Special Moment. I’m so excited for you fredrik, I’m so in love with your art and the way you work. Congratulations, you deserve it all ? / ps I know the videos going around are the deflating/transforming ones, but wow being in an orb of partial isolation is thoroughly sense-altering and I will be dreaming about it

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Tjærandsen, a native of Norway who has worked with J.W. Anderson, Balenciaga, Louis Vuitton, and Craig Green, told Love magazine he envisioned making a bubble some 10 meters in diameter, but was constrained by the width of the runway; still, one of his designs—a set of black rubber wings in a crescent shape—couldn’t help but gently batter the front-row viewers at the show. During his research-and-development process for his Central Saint Martins graduate show, he added, a couple of his bubbles exploded. Perhaps that explains why one front-row attendee, who reached out to caress one of the black crescents as it exited the runway, jerked their hand away so quickly—don’t want to burst the bubbles.

The bubbles themselves were reportedly a whole experience, even without the sudden evolution from balloon to rubber sheath: “I know the videos going around are the deflating/transforming ones,” model Chantel, who wore the purple bubble, wrote in a caption of the video she posted to her own Instagram, “but wow being in an orb of partial isolation is thoroughly sense-altering and I will be dreaming about it.”

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