Tommy Hilfiger first knew of Richard Quinn when Her late Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, presented the designer with the inaugural Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design in February 2018. Four years on, Hilfiger called upon Quinn to collaborate on his autumn/winter 2022 showcase, which was held at New York Fashion Week just days after the Queen’s death.
From the conversations that the pair had on the morning of the event to the illustrious cast that walked, here are the key takeaways from the show.
Tommy Hilfiger first heard of Richard Quinn because of Queen Elizabeth II
Like the rest of the world, it was thanks to Her late Majesty that Tommy Hilfiger first heard of Richard Quinn. “I knew him from the pictures of the Queen – God bless her – sitting in the front row with Anna [Wintour] at his show,” Hilfiger said during a preview for his see-now-buy-now autumn/winter 2022 show in New York four days after the monarch’s death. It included a collaboration with Quinn, whose February 2018 show went down in history as pictures of the Queen and Wintour taking in his gimp masks and foil gowns runway-side went around the world. “I think she probably thought she had seen it all… until that point,” Hilfiger smiled. “It’s an iconic moment that will never be again.” Quinn, who joined him in the preview, said it had been a defining moment in his career. “She definitely had an impact in my trajectory for sure. Overnight, people knew she been at someone’s fashion show.”
The show subverted Hilfiger’s preppy signatures
If it were those kind of contrasts – royalty and gimp masks, florals and fetish – that made Quinn famous in the first place, his collaboration with Hilfiger only cemented the subversion. Presented in the final looks of Hilfiger’s show, the capsule collection merged Quinn’s trademarks with the American designer’s preppy disposition, in varsity jackets, oversized puffer coats in floral prints, polo shirts, and spiky leather jackets. “It’s nice to take these garments and completely twist them, and see them come out on the other side. I’ve added more volume to American chinos and made the traditional masculine pieces a little more intricate with florals; a little more daring,” Quinn said. “I always thought florals were mumsy so I limited the number of florals in my collections. But done this way, it makes florals look modern and relevant and cool,” Hilfiger said.
Attitudes were fierce despite the rain
Even the biblical rain pouring down on Hilfiger’s models in his outdoor venue in Brooklyn couldn’t take the attitude away from a show that borrowed from the sexy ferociousness of Quinn’s often S&M-informed genetics. With The Queens’s remix of Madonna and Beyoncé’s “Break My Soul” blasting through the rain – and a live drum solo from Travis Barker for the finale, who had graced a front row that also counted his wife Kourtney Kardashian, Kris Jenner, Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin – it showed a naughtier side of the Tommy girl and boy. I like the fact that we’ve never done anything of that sort,” Hilfiger said. “I adore punk. I’m obsessed with it. I was there in the day, with The Sex Pistols and The Clash and CBGB and Malcolm McLaren. I was there. It was a time when fashion was turned on its head. I’ve always loved tartan, cowboys, cheerleader, the jock. I think the different categories within the collaboration are very cool and sort of timely.”
The show featured an illustrious cast
In line with the Quinn collaboration, the show – which marked Hilfiger’s return to New York Fashion Week – was titled Tommy Factory as a reference to Andy Warhol’s fabled Factory where artists came together. The see-now-buy-now collection was an urban exercise in the American iconography and prep that defines Hilfiger’s creative grammar, emblazoned with a new college-like monogram created in partnership with the graphic designer Fergus Purcell. Guests arrived through the backstage entrance of the venue and effectively walked through the behind-the-scenes action as if it were an art studio. On the runway, Hilfiger put together an illustrious cast including Lila Moss, Winnie Harlow, Alton Mason, Hari Nef, Julia Fox, Paloma Elsesser and Precious Lee, and Warhol’s right-hand-man Bob Colacello and “Warhol superstar’ and actress Donna Jordan.
Hilfiger and Quinn reflected on the Queen
On the morning of the show, the conversation naturally kept leading back to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. “I’ve met the King,” Hilfiger said, referring to the new King Charles III, “and his siblings and his ex-wife Diana, [Princess of Wales] but never the Queen.” Quinn described the Queen’s appearance at his show in 2018 as a somewhat fantastical experience. “It was one of the first shows I did, and I was kind being drip-fed that something was going to happen. It wasn’t until the very last few days that I was actually told what was going to happen,” he paused. “Suddenly she’s in front of you and… it’s a very surreal moment.”
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk