New Yorker-in-London Michael Halpern specializes in full-on eveningwear. "My mother used to be at Studio 54 wearing sequins," he told AnOther magazine. "I think there’s a level of fearlessness that’s been lost with just wearing a nice dress... I want my friends to be in a bar wearing a pair of sparkling trousers, or wearing a tiny mini dress, and I want them to feel perfect."
Inspired by the 70s and that whole time of unabashed glamour in New York, Halpern’s clothes strongly recall nightlife. But there’s a problem. We hardly go out anymore: FOGO is the new FOMO. Staying in has been the new going out among millennials in particular for some time now, further evidenced by the growing sleepwear, loungewear and athleisure markets.
Netflix has replaced drinks, because, more often than not, we can’t be bothered. And if we can be, jeans-and-a-cute-top is about as far as we’ll go. We’re not fearless, we’re fearful of looking like we’re trying too hard, or of making an effort for what ends up being a disappointing evening.
But Halpern’s clothes, in all their shimmering, silhouette-rich glory, are so good, they beg the question, whatever happened to fun? Has there been a shift in the collective value system? Is it because post-2008, no one is spraying champagne anymore, and we have less disposable income?
We can perhaps, like with everything, blame technology. Human connection is increasingly happening through social media. A poor substitute for authentic connection perhaps, but whereas in a pre-digital world you would feel lonely and bored at home, now you can have your fill of interaction over Whatsapp, and even dabble in a bit of entertainment by experiencing parties through Instagram stories, without worrying about costs, getting in, or running into someone you hate.
But seeing Halpern’s yards of gold lamé, and glitzy sequins triggered conflicting thoughts, an urge to turn off Netflix and reconnect with all the club promoters I used to know.
Science gives us an encouraging nod for making time for fun. Fun can make you more energetic and youthful, finding more fun in physical activity (er, dance) balances your hormone levels, reduces stress which in turn makes us smarter, and improves work and personal relationships.
As George Bernard Shaw once said, we don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing. I believe they used to call it stayin’ alive.