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Look of the Week: @subwaysessions is the TikToker dividing the internet with her outfits

By Leah Dolan, CNN

(CNN) — This week, by far the most feverishly discussed outfit didn’t come from a member of the Kardashian clan or an off-duty model. In fact, it wasn’t worn by a celebrity at all. Instead, it was Kristina Avakyan (known on TikTok as @subwaysessions), a New York resident who pushed the boundaries of style with a look that was anything but average.

In a TikTok that’s now been watched over 1.9 million times, Avakyan paces across her runway (the 6 train subway platform) in what has become a deeply polarizing outfit. She is wearing a flesh-toned lace bodysuit which betrays a black underwear set beneath, two chunky gold hoops stacked on one ear, a pair of orange basketball shorts that — even when rolled at the waist several times — finish at the knee and pink metallic stilettos.

Some social media users aren’t convinced. “Me playing dress up in my mom’s closet at six years old,” wrote one commenter. “Victoria Secret x Adam Sandler collab,” chimed another. The outfit has been circulating on X (formerly known as Twitter), too, with one video reaching over 62 million views and 23,000 spirited quote replies.

Fans see Avakyan as a kindred spirit of Carrie Bradshaw — the Sex and the City protagonist best known for her unconventional dress sense that at times saw her attach a belt to her bare waist, or create an outfit out of heeled mules, corduroy booty-shorts and a newsboy hat. The Cut, who interviewed Avakyan on Wednesday, dubbed it “personal-style extremism,” taking ideas of uniqueness, individuality and self-expression to their logical conclusion.

Social media has flattened the fashion landscape by making subcultures ubiquitous and giving trends a global (rather than local) platform. Against the backdrop of sartorial homogeneity, the idea of personal style is more appealing than ever. The phrase “#personalstyle” has more than 858 million views on TikTok, and in 2022 the New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote about how to capture it. Queer Eye host Tan France even offers a £120 ($150) MasterClass series on the subject.

Avakyan herself said her “body is a canvas,” likening dressing every morning to painting. “Every single time, it comes out different, but it reflects your emotion and how you feel,” she told The Cut. She says her unbridled maximalism is the product of a strict childhood where certain clothes were banned. “I couldn’t wear anything too tight or too showy,” she said.

Skeptics argue the @subwaysessions account is devised only to generate outrage and attention. But fashion has long harnessed the power of outrage, confusion, or both to create conversation or sales. During Paris Couture Week in January this year, Doja Cat arrived at the Schiaparelli show in 30,000 hand-glued Swarokski crystals covering her body. A few months later, Danish designer Heliot Emil sent a model down the runway on fire. Stranger things have happened than a color-clash on the subway.

Whether we are watching Avakyan follow her true stylistic intuition or a carefully engineered persona, the point is we are still watching. And there’s no doubt she is in on the controversy, too. “Just some of my outfits,” reads her TikTok bio, “for you to judge or praise.”

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Article Topic Follows: CNN – Style

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