Horse girls: We all know one. Maybe you were one growing up and spent your youth in the stables or watching DreamWork’s Spirit on loop. Maybe you had a childhood friend who introduced you to her impressive collection of porcelain stallion figurines during sleepovers. Regardless of how well you’re acquainted with the equine-obsessed archetype, what you need to know is that in 2022, she’s a style icon. Her friends are now borrowing her riding boots and looking to her for going-out inspo (Sexy horse-inspired fashion? It exists — more on that ahead). Simply put, the horse girl is a trendsetter, and the rest of the industry is finally catching on.
At Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture runway, Charlotte Casiraghi cantered down the runway on a real-life, actual horse and wearing full equestrian garb — a black sparkly tweed jacket, riding boots, breeches, and a helmet. There was the Spring/Summer 2022 Ready-to-Wear showing from London-based womenswear brand Yuhan Wang, too, which featured a lively stallion print that might inspire you to finally book that trip to the Outer Banks to see North Carolina’s wild beach-roaming horses.
And in Hermès Fall/Winter 2022 collection filled with fetishistic leather, horse-bit hardware, and thigh-high stockings, Creative Director Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski postures that horse girls can even be, well, sexy. “It’s the same old thing,” Vanhee-Cybulski told Vogue France backstage, explaining how the show honored the fashion house’s roots in equestrianism. “But it’s techno in spirit: speed, sexiness, sportiness. It’s an expression of what equestrian can mean today.”
And then there was the ever inventive offerings from New York City-based Collina Strada. The Spring/Summer 2022 collection from the label included a grey horse-head-shaped chest piece strapped to the model’s chest, creating an outlandish Animorph illusion. You likely also haven’t forgotten the gown worn by pop singer Kim Petras to the 2021 Met Gala, which featured a similar 3D horse-head bustier. Collina Strada’s Creative Director, Hillary Taymour, dubbed it a “Horset” and shares with TZR that the look came about while working on her digital pre-spring show for IMVU, a social metaverse platform. “I made the ‘Horset’ in the digital realm and then became obsessed with how to achieve it in real life,” she explains over email. “Not a lot of people could own that look on the carpet, but [Petras] served something that was even better than I imagined.”
Taymour herself has always identified as a loud and proud horse girl. She grew up an equestrienne on the show jumping circuit, although she says she didn’t always resonate with what the conventional expectations for young riders. “I didn’t love the traditional fashion of the early 2000s that you had to wear at competitive horse shows,” the designer says. Fawn-colored breeches, a starched bib-front button-down, and a black show jacket — that just wasn’t her style. Ever the trend-setter, her take on horse-girl fashion as a tween was more colorful and flashy, reflecting the bedazzled kitsch of the Hot Aughts. “I was always rebellious, wearing pink flame glitter belts under my uniform at competitions. And I [loved] the post-riding look of britches boots, a rhinestone ribbed tank top, and a Von Dutch hat with a studded belt.”
As evidenced by both tween and an adult Taymour, horse girls are multi-faceted, and their fashion can be as well. They can be prim and proper, inclined to streamlined silhouettes, or open to experimentation, whether that be through sultry, bordering on BDSM styles or artistic interpretations.
Amelia Diamond, writer, brand creative, and whole-hearted horse lover, personally draws inspiration from “traditional English equestrian style.” Her horse bond developed when she was young — “I started riding when I was eight. I fell in love the moment I walked into the barn, and I’ve been a horse girl ever since.” — and it’s something she’s nurtured over the years through her sartorial choices. “I wear Blundstone boots in the city and to the barn and Ariat cowboy boots when it rains,” she tells TZR over email. “Typically, I lean toward simple, ‘classic’ pieces that can serve a ton of purposes and be dressed up or down; I wear a lot of button-down shirts all year round, and I love tweed in the fall/winter. I typically stay away from anything with horse prints or motifs (like the Chloé horse critter pants) in general because I feel it’s like wearing the band tee-shirt to see the band — but that’s just me! I’m a big proponent of wearing what makes you happy. Also, the horses certainly don’t care!”
Another HG worth knowing? Emmie Strommen, who hopes to honor the well-rounded nature of horse girls with her equine-themed publication, Calling All Horse Girls — and whose recent A-list cover stars include supermodel Helena Christensen and singer/It girl Justine Skye, by the way. “I started Calling All Horse Girls in 2019 because, at the time, there wasn’t a space that accurately represented the nuances of being a horse girl,” she says to TZR. The founder and magazine’s editor-in-chief grew up riding horses competitively and later studied equestrian studies in college. “Eventually, though, I let it all go to be a copywriter in New York City. And when you let go of horses (which most people have to at some point), that ‘horse girl’ identity often goes too by default,” she expresses over email. “I created CAHG to bridge the gap between the ‘real world’ and being a horse girl — where you don’t have to let go of a huge part of who you are.”
Furthermore, Strommen hopes to “create a space that makes horses more relatable with less barriers to entry,” posturing that all are welcome in the stables, so to speak. Diamond says, too, that being a horse girl is a not defined by your proximity to the animal or participation in the sport — it’s not a phase, it’s a lifestyle, one that’s open to individual interpretation, too. “Being ‘a horse girl’ has meant so many different things to me over the years, across different stages of my life — some with horses, some without,” the creative consultant says. “And ultimately, I think that being a horse girl has nothing to do with whether you ride, nothing to do with whether you've even touched a horse, and everything to do with your answer to these questions: Do you love horses — the idea of them? Their general existence on this planet? And does loving horses somehow feel like a critical element of your identity? If yes times two, then great, cool, congratulations! You're a horse girl,” offers Diamond.
Strommen notes that the cultural perception of horse girls is also evolving and, as a result, more people are identifying as equestrians at heart. “There’s a shift ... in seeing horse girls as the weird girls to the ‘cool girls’ — Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Yellowstone, what feels like every large fashion house, and even Calling All Horse Girls has contributed to that.” Just look at Beyoncé, forever a cultural vanguard, who transformed into a cyber-nymph Lady Godiva for the cover of her seventh studio album, Renaissance.
And in a socio-cultural sense, Jalil Johnson, a fashion assistant for Saks Fifth Avenue, believes the recent uptick and appreciation for horse-girl fashion and culture is due to the tumult and isolation of recent years. “Perhaps the horse serves as a symbol of who we are after spending about two years locked inside,” he posits in the caption of a May Instagram post. “We are majestic creatures who need to gallop through the world, with our luscious manes blowing in the wind ... [running] free into the sunset,” describes Johnson, going on to dub spring/summer 2022 as the “season of the horse.”
Katie Kolodinski, founder and creative director of Silk Laundry, echoes Johnson, saying, “[horses represent] freedom, and perhaps after years of lockdowns, longing, restrictions, and restraint. They represent the desire to travel and feel free while also connecting to others and the natural world around us again.” Taymour concurs with Kolodinski’s latter point, saying 2022’s horse-centric trend speaks to a collective desire to get grimy because the notion of an always pristine equestrian in a crisply pressed and stain-free uniform was never entirely accurate in the first place. “Horse girls are chic, posh — but mostly just dirty. They ride in Hermès saddles through the mud without a second thought,” says the Collina Strada designer.
For Strommen, though, it all comes back to the majestic nature of the animals. “Coming off of 2020, I think there’s [been] unanimous desire to get closer to the things important to us, and horses have a quiet way of reminding you of those things,” she says. “Horses don’t care which celebrity is riding them, what designer bag is draped around them or what magazine is talking about them — they see you for you, and that’s what is so desirable. It took a minute, but I think the world is finally catching up to what horse girls have been talking about for decades: horses are really f*cking cool.”
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