During her Renaissance World Tour stops in L.A., Beyoncé caused a run on sparkly fashion with a silver dress code directive. It’s a favored metallic the megastar also rocked back in March when she offered a peek into hubby Jay-Z’s ultra-exclusive post-Oscars Gold Party. In the GIF she posted, she’s wearing a customized mirrored mini covered in feathery paillettes by Retrofête.
“I design what I like to call over-the-top ready-to-wear — catering to both the everyday and life’s biggest moments,” says Israel-born Ohad Seroya, who co-founded the New York City-based label in 2018 with his husband, Aviad Klin.
Beyoncé’s outfit reveal to 316 million ardent followers went viral immediately — the brand itself gained 5k followers from reposting it — and influenced the influencers. Requests for Retrofête silver pieces, including from VIPs like Chrissy Teigen, Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union, spiked 392 percent in May through early September compared to the first quarter of 2023.
Now, with premieres and many awards ceremonies on pause during Hollywood’s double strike, red carpet opportunities remain limited for actors and brands alike — which means Instagram is more important than ever as a spot to spotlight fashion. “They have to continue to try to find moments where people say, ‘Oh, yeah, this person looks great. This person is a fashionista. This person understands fashion,’” says Zadrian Smith of styling duo Zadrian + Sarah. “That becomes just doing your everyday stuff, like going on holiday [and posting it].”
For model Winnie Harlow’s birthday bash in July, Zadrian + Sarah jumped on Retrofête’s crochet maxi-dress with starfish embroidery. The look conjures a fisherman’s net catching “this beautiful Winnie Harlow mermaid,” says Smith. Harlow invited her 10.3 million IG followers into her boisterous night through multiple galleries. “That look ran everywhere,” says Tia-Marie Yan, Retrofête PR manager of celebrity & VIP.
Also this summer, stylist Heather Smith dressed Alessandra Ambrosio (who has 12 million followers on Instagram) in a shell-embellished gold-mesh minidress for a private yacht soirée in Ibiza. “When people feel good in their outfit, they’re going to post it on social,” says Smith, who regularly pulls Retrofête. “Obviously, social is just as good, if not better, than a red carpet.”
The onslaught of music festivals and mega-tours has increased demand for Retrofête’s high-shine, TikTok-ready pieces. “Right now there are huge, huge requests in concert [looks],” says Yan. Retrofête regular Sofía Vergara bought a rhinestone pinstripe corset set for Taylor Swift’s The Eras Tour — and shared the evening with 31.2 million. And Blackpink members Jennie, Rosé and Jisoo have worn sequined, beaded and fringed looks during their Born Pink World Tour.
Yan emphasizes that celebrity placements are always carefully curated loans from future, unavailable seasons rather than freely distributed gifts from the current one: “That makes it more exclusive because we don’t just throw $800 dresses out there and hope that it’ll stick.”
Retrofête also nimbly responds to viral moments. For instance, upon receiving confirmation that Selena Gomez would wear a glitter-pinstriped pantsuit for a 2022 Saturday Night Live promo, the web team quickly made the outfit available online for preorders.
Marking its five-year anniversary, Retrofête made its New York Fashion Week debut with a Spring 2024 show that nods, says Seroya, to his “formative experiences” — music fests and jet-setting parties — which are also occasions for which people flock to Retrofête. Actor Joel Kinnaman and model Jordyn Woods sat front row.
Ahead of Oscar season (assuming the strikes aren’t ongoing), the show also marks an expansion from ’grammable ready-to-wear into custom design with an eye toward elevating itself as a red carpet label of choice. “The fashion show,” says Yan, “is going to open a lot of doors for us to cater to dressier, one-of-a-kind pieces.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 20 issue of The Music news magazine. Click here to subscribe.