When Jordan Firstman rolled up to this year’s Sundance Film Festival to promote his movie Rotting in the Sun in an oversized shearling-trimmed leather coat and white tights, worn proudly with a lusciously hairy bare chest, it was a rare serve that stopped even the most jaded Park City locals dead in their tracks. It was an act of premeditated virality—the writer/actor best known for his video impressions (of Gen Zs on their deathbeds, the Energizer Bunny in therapy, a straight French guy who has opinions about art, and so on) and his stylist Jared Ellner replicated the extremely Y2K look that Channing Tatum famously wore on the Sean John runway in 2003, likely knowing it would be a hit on Instagram. How could it not be? The look was at once nostalgic, hilarious, and, yes, inarguably splashy. “Yooooo this is a fuckin show stopper my friend!!” confirmed Tatum in the comments.
Firstman is part of a group of comedy stars that also includes the likes of Ziwe Fumudoh, Megan Stalter, and Benito Skinner who seem to have a chokehold on the chronically online community, showering our feeds with exaggerated hilarity and top-tier fashion at the same time. In a world where everyone’s peacocking for the algorithm, irreverence stands out. Which is probably why many of us find ourselves looking more and more to comedians as today’s most refreshing fashion icons: they follow a legacy of camp queens like Fran Drescher, Cher, and Parker Posey, all of whom have mastered the very unsubtle art of not caring…at all. Their looks are delightfully over the top, and though often the work of stylists who care very much about the details, they rarely feel forced. This inexplicable combination is something we should aspire to. Extra? Yes. Try-hard? Never.
In her TikTok parody of the Met Gala red carpet, Hacks star Stalter reported on her dress—a bath towel and toilet paper—as an “amazing collaboration between JCPenney and the guy who invented fidget spinners.” In truth, Stalter’s partnership with her stylist Kat Typaldos results in some of the most exciting looks of late, from a custom aqua blue one-shoulder cut-out dress made by Canadian label Sapodillas for her guest appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race to the vintage Versace lace-up lingerie dress she wore to the 2022 Golden Globes.
When a cast of fashion heavyweights like Lily-Rose Depp, Jennie Kim, and Hari Nef hit the Cannes red carpet for the premiere of The Idol last week, co-star Rachel Sennott held her own in two Patou party dresses that straddled Old Hollywood sex kitten and Y2K club kid aesthetics, respectively. Sennott, whose breakthrough performance in the indie hit Shiva Baby landed her rising comedy star status, has garnered attention from luxury brands like Hermès and Ferragamo.
On Ziwe, the A24/Showtime talk show that was abruptly cancelled last month, host Fumudoh roasts her guests while clad in everything from Chanel-esque tweed suits to Lucite platform stripper heels. “Like a first lady—but kind of slutty” is how she described her fashion sense—a collaboration with her stylist Pamela Shepard Hill—to The Coveteur last year. It tracks: the star rose to fame during the pandemic for her “gotcha”-esque interviews on race and other hot-button topics with political figures and white feminists alike. Screengrabs from the show, often posted onto Fumudoh’s feed for meme posterity, depict her unique brand of irony, like the photo of her in a faux fur hat and an orange strapless dress adorned with rhinestones, paired with matching gloves that’s captioned “Earth is in its flop era.” Another depicts her in a feathery fuchsia strapless mini with bobble-tied pigtails: “I was expressing my deep-seated trauma…” she writes. It’s moments like these that have made Fumudoh a darling of the fashion industry. Miu Miu loves to dress her in naughty school girl looks. Earlier this year, she sauntered down the runway at Mugler’s fall 2023 show, whipping her extensions around and stopping mid-walk to call out attendee Lisa Rinna in the crowd.
Rinna is another star having an unexpected fashion moment. Since exiting The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills in 2022 following an eight-season run, she’s walked the runway for Denmark-based brand Rotate’s show at Copenhagen Fashion Week, sat front row at Chanel’s recent cruise 2023/2024 show in L.A., and graced the cover of CR Fashion Book. “I fucking came out owning it, baby,” she proclaimed at the Mugler show, in response to Fumudoh’s reference to Rinna’s insistence that her friends and foes “own” their wrongdoings. While Rinna is not technically a comedian, her controversial, often unhinged actions have been at the center of the Housewives meme universe since her first season. She’s a willing jokester for the camera, offering herself up for the sake of a plot line, a viral photo, or a wild runway look.
There are few pop stars today that beg for this kind of sartorial treatment. Experimental frontrunners like Rihanna and Doja Cat exist, of course, but rare is the A-lister who is willing to take risks without a 360-view of how it might appear to their fans and, more importantly, the luxury brands that foot their bills. Awards shows have become sponsored, red carpets sanitized, and Instagram posts heavily vetted. To quote the doomed Lexi Featherston who fell to her untimely death on Sex and the City, “No one’s fun anymore!” In their place, maybe it’s the stars who can truly let loose who will rise to the top of the style sphere.
Randi Bergman is a fashion writer and consultant based in Toronto. She is the founder of Capsule 98, a website, podcast, social platform and one-time clothing collection focusing on nostalgia. She is a Taurus just like Miuccia, Donatella, Halston and Cher.