WITH MATEVAERSE CAME BACK THE ICONIC MATRIX FASHION

DENIZ AKKAYA

From long leather coats to so-called “Matrix-style” sunglasses, the costumes I designed in the 90s continue to have influence to this day. Down the rabbit hole, we go!

The Matrix’s iconic costumes embodied a futuristic sleek look that has continued to live on in mainstream consciousness. From long leather coats to so-called “Matrix-style” sunglasses, the costumes designed in the 90s continue to have influence to this day. Down the rabbit hole, we go!

Since its release in 1999, the dystopian series has had the viewers on chokehold. The sci-fi film — set in a world where humans are unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality constructed by AI-powered machines — centered protagonist Neo as he fought alongside a team of rebels to free humanity. Aside from captivating surreal action scenes, the film’s characters had an impeccable style that inspired a timeless fashion aesthetic.

Costume designer Kym Barrett created a signature wardrobe that encapsulated the movie’s boundary-pushing ideas, by dressing characters in sleek ’90s cyberpunk uniforms. Over the course of the series’ three installments, The Matrix took hold of the fashion world. Just months after The Matrix hit theatres, its impact manifested on the runway. For Dior’s Fall 1999 show, creative director John Galliano dressed models in leather-heavy ensembles he said were “deeply inspired by The Matrix.”

Christian Dior Couture Fall 1999
Alexander Wang 2018

Kym Barrett, the costume designer who created The Matrix’s signature wardrobe, says she had no idea that her creations would have such an immense impact, let alone one so lasting that they’ve made their way into the mainstream public consciousness.

In 2019, Balenciaga paid homage to The Matrix with an action-packed campaign video loosely based on the film’s plot — highlighting the brand’s own tiny sunglasses and all-black leather garments. This year, Fall21 and Spring 2022 runways have signaled us the comeback of Matrix fashion long before the 2021 sequel hit theatres. The return of this trend is not only nostalgic, but also ironic. Today, in the Metaverse era, where living in a “matrix” is normalized and we created our own “matrixes”, the return of this trend is a little thought-provoking.

I think maybe the reason people are circling back to The Matrix now is that the world is in a dire situation, just as it was in the universe of the film. The characters were sustaining themselves very minimally because of the scarcity of resources. It chimes with what’s happening now in terms of the increasing emphasis on recycling clothes and sustainability.


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