At the Super Bowl, Taylor Swift Gives a Fashion Week Brand a Boost


About half an hour after the Area show ended in New York on Super Bowl Sunday, Taylor Swift appeared in Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas wearing a pair of the brand’s “crystal slit jeans” — a high-waist denim style sliced diagonally at the center of each thigh, the patently faux “rip” framed by diamanté. It was like a runway-to-real-life feature happening in actual time — or Super time.

Area, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, is generally one of those fashion week brands that most nonfashion people see and say, “But who would wear that?” (Well, other than Simone Biles making a viral statement at the Met Gala.) Ms. Swift was the perfect answer. The designer Piotrek Panszczyk — and indeed all of fashion, which sometimes suffers from a clothes-concept perception gap — could not have planned it better had he tried.

Mr. Panszczyk sits firmly in the Moschino-Schiaparelli fashion tradition of wielding sartorial humor as a commentary on contemporary life, though he tends to sit on the punny performance art end of that spectrum. Last season he used “Flintstones” bones and “Dynasty” faux furs to symbolize the evolution of luxury and caste signaling, which came after a season built around the idea of fruit and mortality, mostly in the form of banana skirts. The looks attract the sort of person who does not mind going on a milk run in Bushwick draped in rhinestones and not much else.

Ms. Swift, however, is an endorsement of a different kind. It’s not the first time she has worn Area denim. Last April she wore the brand’s crystal butterfly jeans in New York, and in October she wore a pair of Area embellished jeans shorts to another Chiefs game. (She does like a bit of sparkle.) But this is the first time she wore its denim when more than 100 million people were watching. It’s a potent, and deserved, argument for the future of Area as a credible business, rather than merely a fashion week gimmick.

As was the latest collection, which chose as its hot topic the peculiarly modern state of endless watching — of looking, and being looked at in turn. One that seemed notably apropos given the attention being paid to Ms. Swift and everything she does. It’s a serious subject, but the clothes were awfully fun.

The starting point was 1920s cartoon googly eyes, the kind composed of two big white ovals with little pupil dots that are shorthand for “Wow! These are about to fall right out of my head!” In Mr. Panszczyk’s hands, they were abstracted into Op Art flowers, which morphed into polka dots, which became Dalmatian print denim, which in turn became giant round diamonds, ultimately framed by a metal circlet in a simple black sheath, as if to suggest a viewer had not put a ring on it, but in it.

It was ridiculous and smart and less self-indulgently jokey than Area’s outfit one-liners can sometimes be, even veering occasionally into the realm of chic. Especially so in a one-shouldered crochet sheath with a spill of leather blooms down one side, some palazzo versions of the Dalmatian denim and a little shift covered in a field of three-dimensional googly eye paillettes that quivered, en tremblant, with the stride.

Before the Super Bowl was over, the jeans, which are listed for $695 on the brand’s website, had sold out.





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