Deliveries have become a modern way of life, and as a result so have paper boxes. Inspired by the piles of them around her, Natasha Zinko designed her spring 2022 clothes around boxes and styled her lookbook with cardboard underpinnings. Dressed in these pieces the models vaguely resembled blocky old-school video characters. There was a comic aspect to the goings on, but Zinko’s experimentations actually weren’t all that far removed from the exaggerated shoulders that have been trending lately (also: the looks were designed to deflate). And let’s not forget that for centuries women wore rigid and confining underpinnings.
Feeling she hadn’t completely unpacked last season’s theme, for fall Zinko presented Queen of the Boxes II, which abstracted the idea a bit more, and brought it down to size, sort of. The designer was thinking about 1980s Madonna and Bladerunner, among other things, as she designed the collection. Speaking of the appeal of that OTT decade, she said, “it actually gave so much to everyone; this volume, this kind of freedom, this masculinity that you can have. It gave us women the power to [wear] the masculine shoulders, to wear more suits, in a different way, but becoming more sexy, like kind of genderlessess… and sex that you can talk about, and I that’s important.”
There have been a lot of 1980s references in fashion, and with the death of Thierry Mugler, we’re bound to see renewed interest in the decade’s strident silhouette. The shoulder shapes Zinko created, especially when seen from the side, are quite interesting. Having studied jewelry design, taking a 3D view of objects must be second nature to her. For fall she also looked at flat boxes in piles and abstracted that into patterns for dresses with pointed hems. There are echoes of present-day Balenciaga in these floral frocks with nifty removable shoulder pads. Zinko’s use of cone shapes at the knee and elbow evokes the sharp corners of boxes, while also looking like the ones that Jean Paul Gaultier popularized.
Interested in size and gender inclusivity, she recently added tags to her clothing that read, “for aliens and bunnies,” which helps explain the furry final look. (The season’s bunny print, inspired by the kama sutra, might not be SFW.) There’s no denying that Zinko’s built a world of her own. “I have a different perspective and [my world] is also rotating around me. I think what I’m doing now, I haven’t done before. I’m challenging myself,” she said over Zoom—and she’s daring us to come along with her.