As I write this, a petition is gaining traction, one that calls for Columbus — Ohio’s capital city named after Christopher Columbus — to be renamed “Flavortown” after bleached and beloved restaurateur and Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host Guy Fieri. “Cheflebrity Guy Fieri was born in Columbus, so naming the city in honor of him (he’s such a good dude, really) would be superior to its current nomenclature,” the petition reads. At the time of publishing, it has over 120k signatures. Another circling petition asks that the University of Las Vegas’s mascot — previously Hey Reb! the Rebel, a reference to the Confederate Army — also be changed to Guy Fieri.
With so much Fieri on the brain, it’s no wonder that flame print fashion — a mode made famous by the TV personality — is seeing unprecedented popularity in 2020.
It’s not just because of Fieri though. Tiana Parker was spotted in May modeling a flame-printed bikini made by Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid’s favorite swimwear designer, Melissa Simone. Hadid’s go-to from the brand, which she wore on the beach in St. Barts late last year, is also flame-printed. The flame-printed leggings that activewear brand Terez launched in collaboration with celebrity trainer Isaac Calpito in June sold out almost immediately, and New-York-based indie fashion brand Priscavera just launched its first foray into swimwear with the Summer Flame Series — a four-piece collection of bikinis and mesh tops in designer Prisca Vera Franchetti’s iconic flame print.
Flame print isn’t new. In fact, before the recent launch, it played a role in Franchetti’s collections since Priscavera’s conception in 2015.
“Fire for me is both grand and scary,” she says of what inspired her use of the print. “Almost everything we fear, we are somehow attracted to.” The first time she saw it sartorially was in a 1997 spread in Dazed called “Highly Flammable,” she says. “The model was wearing clothes literally on fire, and she was kind of on fire, too. I immediately felt how relatable translating that idea into a print could be if done right, where the flames were digitally printed and realistic, as if your dress was actually on fire.”
The print also made its way into the high-fashion spotlight in 2018. At the AW18 Mens Fashion Week, tailored suiting may have dominated most of Dior Homme’s 49-piece collection, but flame print most assuredly showed face, with graphic T-shirts and jewellery both including their fair share of fire. Similarly, at Japanese streetwear brand Kolor’s presentation, a selection of T-shirts and knitwear featuring the word “Uneven” in flame-flicked lettering emblazoned on the front were featured throughout.
No fashion brand did flame in 2018 quite like Prada, though. Seen on the likes of hip hop artist Pusha T and actor Jeff Goldblum, Prada’s AW18 flame-printed T-shirt was so popular upon its arrival on the market that The New Yorker wrote an entire piece about it, one that’s headline called it “performance art.” The shirt, which at the time cost $1,200, sold out almost immediately. Later in the season, Miuccia Prada continued the trend with neon flaming heels at the brand’s AW18 womens ready-to-wear show.
But today’s fiery resurgence feels more relevant today than it did when it walked the catwalks of Paris and Milan back in January of 2018. Things were tough then, sure. After all, January was when the government shut down and Trump referred to himself as “a very stable genius.” But they’re worse in 2020 — far worse.
Six months into the year, the world’s already battled unprecedented wildfires in Australia and New Zealand, an impeachment trial, a global pandemic that continues to infect and kill millions worldwide, and peak visibility of America’s systemic racism problem, one that shows itself through police brutality against Black people. In other words, 2020 is a dumpster fire — and we’re only halfway through it. With a potential second wave of COVID-19 and a major US election in our midst, it’s difficult to predict what horrors tomorrow could hold, let alone the remainder of the year.
According to Franchetti, though, hope is not lost. “Politically, environmentally, economically, and philosophically, fires are lighting up and spreading everywhere,” she explains. “But flames are not only destructive, they can have a cleansing function, the idea of rebirth from ashes is also something that I have faith in.”
That’s not to say that an ironic fashion trend is going to make anything better. But when all goes to hell, sometimes a little retail therapy — and maybe an episode or two of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives — can provide some much-needed shelter from the heat.
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