100x: Cherry Fever
From Vintage to Virgil, the Scope of Fashion’s Coming-Of-Age Fruit
- Text: Erika Houle
The ovary of a flower, once matured, becomes a fruit. Based on this criterion, one might say the cherry is the truest of its kind: a plump, fleshy drupe resembling the female anatomy. Or, in the case of Luca Guadagnino’s rouge-hued Suspiria (2018), the inverse: the film’s costume designer applied scattered hip bones all over Suzy’s dinner dress “to look like cherry-tree branches.” Whatever their form, be they clusters of bubblegum pink-petalled blossoms, or, when of the edible variety, sweet and juicy bite-sized delights, cherries hold an allure of temptation. Delicate but fully-loaded, seductive little vessels, they induce cravings. And lately, it’s become impossible not to indulge—we’ve been cherry-blasted.
Fashion’s shopping carts always fluctuate with whichever fruits are in season: from Prada’s cartoonish bananas and Gucci’s glittering pineapples, to precisely three oranges in a nondescript mesh tote. But cherries, unlike their stone fruit relatives, avocados—long exhausted are our feeds on fancy toast and DIY face mask recipes—stand the test of time. They can be tied as much to today’s it-girl identities (think Harley Viera Newton, Suzanne Alexandra, Mimi Wade) as the era of rockabilly pin-up models, or the late 90s Lolita. As the industry’s wheels keep spinning faster, churning out new trends and producing in excess, we return to something more deeply rooted. Cherries stem back to childhood: embroidered pockets, hair bobbles, cheeky key chains and BFF necklaces... Fruit of the Loom. And their playfulness endures. Like dice, or Magic 8 Balls, they continue to excite.
Cherries are to streetwear what the polaroid camera is to photography—at once throwback and of-the-moment, maintaining relevance while teetering on kitsch. They represent an exploration of the scene’s shift towards amateur design and multi-hyphenate influencers, markers of the youth’s obsession with acquiring sought-after collector’s items, but also of their undying addiction to discovering what’s next. Take the often-cited “label to watch,” Cherry Los Angeles, for example, fronting its 90s-nostalgia-inspired designs—including a Goosebumps capsule collection—with today’s teen fixtures as faces of the brand (most of whom, it’s worth noting, were not yet born when the series aired, or when any of the label’s references initially took place). Or imagine the sea of Off-White millennial pink blooms strewn across the sleeves of Virgil diehards everywhere, elbowing their way through the lines of his latest drops. Earlier this month, Bella Hadid arrived at Dior’s cherry blossom-packed Pre-Fall show in a custom version of the collection’s first look: a futuresque silver turtleneck dress decked out with Ambush and Alyx accessories, and cherry pink highlights to match. To cherry-pick, in any case, is to select only the best from what’s available. Like building clout by scoring the rarest vintage t-shirts and limited edition collabs.
Clown makeup, round faces, swollen lips, glossy everything—the increased presence of cherries in the beauty sphere coincides with many of its recent movements. The fetishized notion of achieving perfectly plump features has somehow become an indicator of health and wellness. In terms of substance, cherries are uncomplicated and essential—unlike, say, red ginseng, but just as easily elevated. They are as likely to appear in your dad’s glove department Chapstick as an $80 luxury lipstick. Cherries are the ticket to both a modest, subtly-tinted pout (think Glossier’s Cherry Balm Dotcom) and an aspirational Old Hollywood manicure. Optimistic and unpretentious, they’re also a key ingredient in the industry’s revolution as it strives towards inclusivity and acceptance “for all.” Consider KKW Beauty’s entire cherry-themed collection and Kim noting her excitement to share her love for the “pretty pink-colored” flowers with the world (not to mention her fragrance-turned-internet phenomenon, “Kimoji Cherry”). Or Urban Decay’s latest Naked Cherry palette, advertised and test-driven as “universally flattering” on 20 different skin tones. For Tom Ford’s SS19 show, he sent attendees invitations in the form of his newest scent, “Lost Cherry.” In conversation with Suzy Menkes, reflecting on the collection, he expressed his desire to “make men and women feel more beautiful, and to empower them with confidence.”
Like the femme fatale of the fruit bowl, a cherry is intricate and appealing by nature, with an undisclosed resilience, residing at arm’s reach to avoid being plucked or prodded. A simplified yet effective reminder of a woman’s subjection to society’s standards, and the strength required to flip the script. Take Rihanna’s recent boundary-breaking Savage x Fenty collection as evidence, which she released with several video campaigns—one showcasing a group of models with cherries dangling from their ears and necks (and some dressed in the line’s Cherry Blossom colorway). Or what about model and artist Arvida Byström, who spent the last year working on her first solo exhibition, Cherry Picking, employing the cherry as a motif to examine the constructs of femininity in the digital age. Florida Project actress Bria Vinaite wears cherry earrings to avoid being perceived as too “serious,” and recently landed her own collaboration with Thursday Boot Company after hand-painting cherries on a pair of old, white dirt-stained boots. Despite the cherry’s historical and overt sex symbol status—from the idea of “popping one’s cherry,” to a pair of cherries connoting cleavage—its wearer holds the power to reconfigure. Drop a cherry on the ground, after all, and it doesn’t splat. It bounces back.
Erika Houle is an editor at SSENSE in Montreal.
- Text: Erika Houle
- Artwork: Skye Oleson-Cormack