The Maximalist Fashion Trend

Is it the sheer opulence of the maximalist trend that has us so transfixed? The romantic sublimity of a vision that creates a myriad of emotions, the pleasure taken from something that would otherwise cause disgust or revulsion? Maybe it’s the seclusive nature of maximalism, how it can be so incomprehensible to anyone looking in from the outside.


For an age haunted by minimalism, maximalism is an outlet for self-expression. The ‘recessionista’ mindset that for so long praised thriftiness and frugality over frivolity has been washed away and replaced by embellishments, layers of lace, tulle, frills and abstract shapes and faces painted onto thick silk and satin. Yes, a maximalist’s horizon is limitless, but to what cause? Or more over what effect? Whilst maximalism may not be an epitaph to the minimalist trend that is still so prevalent, there has to be something said about this new expansive philosophy that millennial minimalists are so easily succumbing to. In an age of downsizing, one pot recipes, and ‘the art of decluttering’ we are adding more and more to our everyday look.

Yet a maximalist’s enthusiasm and love for beautiful objects is contagious. Satisfying a visual hunger, styling becomes a form of art, something to distract and to entertain. There’s a beauty in excess, an ode to the obvious. Subtlety is thrown out of the window as shapes grow and silhouettes distort the body’s natural shape. At times, there can be something monstrous in the oversized, an embodiment of an absurd, chaotic, dystopian vision – think Gucci’s AW17 campaign or cast your mind further back to McQueen’s Plato’s Atlantis where models morphed into unhuman forms and teetered down the catwalk in the iconic Armadillo boots.

Elements of the maximalist narrative take influence from the romantics with the trend generating the strongest of sensations in its beholders. Like the romantics, maximalists believe in the value of art and individualism, promoting imagination and emotion as critical authorities over the rational because, as Gucci CEO Marco Bizzari explains “Fashion is about creating emotion—it’s not necessarily rational.”


Words by Georgia Leitch. Images c/o Ganni

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert