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gen z and a european summer

Written By Sydney Mcallister-Bowen @sydneymcallisterbowen

Art By Jordan Siegel @jordsiegel

Gen Z has recently delved into the aesthetic inspiration of a European summer. This aesthetic consists of dream-like picnics in overgrown meadows, snacking on perfectly ripened produce while soaking up the sun on a lounger, and biking, dressed in a bathing suit across the cobble-stone streets of a coastal town. These settings have become staples to VSCO and Pinterest boards heading into the summer months of 2020. Why has this version of the ‘ideal’ summer become a trend? Is this trend aspirational, or potentially harmful?

Travelling or studying abroad for summer vacation has always been placed under the category of idyllic experiences. However, in recent years, attention has been shifted from pretentious vacation destinations to quaint, hidden gems that are often found in Europe. Pop culture has played a large role in this phenomenon among Generation Z.

In 2017 the Oscar nominated film, ‘Call Me By Your Name’ (CMBYN) was released and became popular among teenagers. CMBYN tells the story of two gay lovers, named Elio and Oliver, that spend a romantic summer in Northern Italy together before being tragically pulled apart. The setting in this film is critical to the unfolding of their love story. Not only does the picturesque setting aid the story, but is also integral to the beauty of the cinematography. Following the film’s success, youth began to fantasize about finding love in a small European town - just as Elio and Oliver had. Film, when successful, creates an allure to something that hasn’t been admired before. Good storytelling and directing transports the audience to a place that allows them to escape their reality. Luca Guadagnino directed CMBYN in a way that led the audience to crave a reality similar to that of Elio and Oliver.

Film, fashion, and art have all contributed to the cultural phenomenon of incorporating the aesthetic of a European summer into more people’s lives. Brands of all kinds are producing designs of relaxed summer dresses, as well as clothing that features patterns commonly used in various European cultures. The desire to experience life in a quaint coastal town can be translated into your own home easier than you may think! Comparison is the only thief of joy, and it is important to remind yourself of the beauty that exists in and around your own home. Some examples that make life at home feel exciting and new include: going for a picnic in a park near you (pack fruit, a baguette, & a fizzy drink), listening to some retro music while tanning (I recommend exploring French vintage), or putting your favourite summer dress on and taking a trip to a river, lake, or beach near you!

Remember that you are the main character in your own story. Romanticize your life, and enjoy every moment. Due to the chaotic nature of this past year, I urge you to experiment with making life in your own area/city thrilling by doing things you’ve never tried before. We often get caught up in the flaws and imperfections of our lives, but this time off is the perfect opportunity to find happiness within yourself and the simple pleasures of life.


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