In the video for her song “Good Days,” SZA dreams that she is a plant dancing in a forest while surrounded by giant undulating mushrooms. It’s a delightful scene that perfectly captures the blur between reality and fantasy that magic mushrooms are known for inducing. As psilocybin (the hallucinogenic chemical found in some mushrooms), LSD and ketamine become approved for research and, in some instances, therapeutic use, psychedelics are also being explored in the mainstream, by everyone from author Michael Pollan, who writes about them in his book How to Change Your Mind, to Goop staff, who fly to Jamaica to experience a magic mushroom retreat in an episode of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix show The Goop Lab, to hip-hop artist A$AP Rocky, who has spoken publicly about his experimentation with them. And their mind-bending properties are infiltrating the aesthetic of the fashion and design world too.
“It’s this fantasy that’s also real in a way,” says Anja Charbonneau about our growing interest in fungi, which has been a global fascination for thousands of years. This fall, Charbonneau, the editor of cannabis-focused magazine Broccoli, and her team will be publishing Mushroom People, a deep dive into everything shroom-related. It’s the publication’s way of paying homage to an organism so unique that it has its own biological kingdom. “We see the symbol of a mushroom and we think of magic,” she says. “We think about access to something ephemeral and beyond reality that’s still very natural.”
On the spring/summer 2021 runways, trippy vibes offered a sign that the times they are a-changin’. Never one to shy away from a kaleidoscopic colour palette, Dries Van Noten created sunny prints inspired by Len Lye, an artist who pioneered the technique of painting on celluloid film in the 1920s, so this is no summer-camp tie-dye. At Valentino, botanical motifs took on bold proportions in clashing colours, while Raf Simons went with whimsical ’70s-inspired purple swirls. Tom Ford’s animal print, though high on glam, was slightly offbeat, like a zebra melting in the sun. Molly Goddard pushed her punk-princess aesthetic down the rabbit hole, clashing acid-green check with vibrant pink and orange ruffles, while Christopher John Rogers mixed saturated stripes to dizzying effect.
“Now, more than ever, it’s time to sartorially break the rules! Revolutionize your wardrobe by including this season’s bright, serotonin-boosting prints. It's all about macro-dosing. Don’t be afraid to mix a kaleidoscope of cool, vibrant tones, especially prints in different scales, while keeping it modern by paring down the accessories.”
–Montreal-based stylist Amanda Lee Shirreffs
Even though it’s psilocybin that’s making headlines, it would be short-sighted to limit the scope of mushrooms to a trip to Wonderland. “I think what’s special about mushrooms is that they’re not just about psychedelics,” says Charbonneau. “It’s so much bigger than that.” Trending in home decor (see the Instagram-approved Murano-glass mushroom lamp), wellness (chaga latte, anyone?) and beauty (you can find mushroom-loaded skincare at your local Sephora), fungi are also being used to create sustainable materials. In March, luxury brand Hermès announced that it would be producing some of its handbags using mycelium, the network of threads from the root structure of mushrooms.
These multi-faceted properties are why Fleur du Mal founder Jennifer Zuccarini has an interest in fungi and their wellness benefits. Last year, she introduced the Magical Mushroom print—a cute illustrated design—into her collection of silk loungewear and has since added it to hoodies. “It’s really tying in a nod to psilocybin and the magical properties of mush- rooms, including healing properties,” she says. “You might love mushrooms but not be using psilocybin and still connect with the print.” Like Zuccarini’s cannabis-inspired botanical print, the design has truly struck a chord with her customers. “It’s not for everybody, but the people who do like it have a really, really strong response to it.”
That emotional reaction is part of the appeal, especially at a time when we are actively seeking out connections. “A mushroom can be so ugly and gross, but it can also be the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen,” says Charbonneau. “When you think about where a designer can pull inspiration from, to have that range, that huge spectrum of strangeness mixed with beauty—it’s so powerful.” Consider this season to be the ultimate power trip.
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