At the beginning of the year, after some soul-searching amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Area designers Beckett Fogg and Piotrek Panszcyzk announced a big shift in how they would present their collections. The New York-based brand would step away from seasonal debuts, they said, instead releasing new product closer to when it would be available for purchase (and labeling these drops with numbers, versus "spring" and "fall.") It would also make a leap into a whole new category: haute couture.
Though it's not officially a part of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode's fashion week calendar, Area unveiled its first-ever couture collection virtually on Thursday, during the Spring 2021 haute couture shows. It's the result of six months of work, across its New York studio and its embroidery partners abroad, the brand noted in a press release.
"For our debut Haute Couture collection, we wanted to highlight our passion for custom tailoring," the designers wrote in the show notes. "We feel like every type of body is beautiful and unique in its own way. We wanted to highlight that by playing with a range of silhouettes created to complement the wearer, showcasing that beauty and craft can feel exclusive in its core but at the same time include a range of body types."
To that end, the lookbook was shot on two models: Precious Lee (continuing to prove that she's unstoppable) and Yasmin Wijnaldum, illustrating a size-inclusive vision for haute couture. (Given that the whole idea with haute couture is celebrating custom craftsmanship at the highest degree, it really makes you wonder why fashion houses don't prioritize showing these collections on a diverse range of bodies every season — something Tyler has brought up time and time again.)
"We like to create our own visual fantasy through fashion and craft, but on the other hand it's important that our viewer can envision them selves in our pieces," Fogg and Panszcyzk noted.
A big inspiration for this collection was body adornment from ancient civilizations, which translated into jeweled pieces that almost mimic armor, in addition to embellishment. It's a theme Area has explored in its beloved sparkle-heavy ready-to-wear, with its crystal netted dresses, bustiers and headpieces. And its haute couture is just as glitzy: Across the 14 looks, there are over half a million (!) Swarovski crystals.
See every single look from Area's couture debut in the gallery, below.