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Mushrooms really are magic.
Harry Styles is inspired by them. Stella McCartney swears by them. We’re crumbling them into our coffee, massaging them into our skin, draping them over our shoulders and even decorating our homes with them. A symbol of growth in darkness, mushrooms have become the unlikely star of our post-pandemic times. Here’s how to reap their benefits.
From toadstool motifs to sustainable fabrics, mushrooms are leading the style stakes.
One fungus outshines the rest in the wardrobes of the best dressed. The fly agaric, with its shiny red cap and white spots, is having a moment thanks to the Y2K trend, plus nostalgia for Super Mario and the dancing toadstools of Disney’s Fantasia. Found on jumpers at JW Anderson and Alexander McQueen, and the Frasier Sterling necklaces worn by Justin and Hailey Bieber, they’re a cute nod to the throwback mood. Try Sydney Evan’s beaded bracelets, £265, or a kitsch toadstool jumper from Native Youth, £26.
It’s Stella McCartney, though, who’s leading the revolution. Next month she debuts the world’s first mushroom ‘leather’ bag, made with mycelium, the root structure that connects fungi underground. “Innovations like these are proven hope for the future of our planet,” McCartney tells Stylist. “Mycelium can help break down waste and oil spills; it can be used as a natural tool in the fight against climate change and of course, within fashion, having the potential to ultimately replace traditional leather.”
This summer, McCartney has an entire campaign inspired by “the interwoven story of mushrooms and humanity” featuring psychedelic motifs. With Hermès also investing in mushroom-grown fabric, there’s no doubt other brands will follow suit soon.
Few people’s homes have escaped the tendrils of the biophilia trend, but the 2022 evolution is less about flashy palm prints and more about what grows below.
There’s the serenity of fungi’s muted colours, which make an ideal canvas for bedrooms and living rooms; WGSN’s lifestyle and interiors division tipped Pantone Mushroom as the biggest shade for autumn.
In a neat reversal of their propensity to thrive in damp, dark enclaves, mushrooms are the key shape for lighting, too - the iconic mid-century Nessino lamp from £120 is making a comeback and Murano glass shades are dominating our Instagram feeds.
If you want a touch of shroom style without going full Alice in Wonderland, add one of Les Ottomans’ hand painted mushroom plates to your ceramic collection and put your next garden centre purchase in a Sass & Belle mushroom-print vase (£20) or planter (from £6).
Beauty & wellness
Mushrooms are popping up in our make-up bags and bathroom cabinets more than ever thanks to their natural skin-soothing and antioxidant qualities.
“Mushrooms are now the ultimate crossover super-ingredient between wellbeing and beauty,” says Lisa Payne, head of beauty at Stylus. “These complex, wellness-boosting, benefit-heavy plants are increasingly cropping up in beauty products, and some experts are heralding them as the new CBD.” Packed full of natural sugars called beta-glucans, applied topically their extracts tackle redness, puffiness and blemishes, and taken as a supplement they’re a powerful antioxidant.
At Cult Beauty, searches for mushroom skincare are up 320% year on year. Origins has long been harnessing the power of shrooms – a bottle of its cult Mega-Mushroom Treatment Lotion sells every eight seconds – and now everyone from Ren to Drunk Elephant is in on the action. They’ve even made their way into our make-up: Milk Makeup’s Bionic Bronzer boasts a hydrating mushroom-infused formula, and NYX’s Bare With Me concealer, a TikTok hit, uses tremella fungi to encourage cell repair.
They’re providing more literal inspiration, too. See the ‘mushroom brown’ hair trend Jennifer Lopez has been rocking, and Harry Styles’ Pleasing Shroom Bloom nail polish set, with a grey-beige gloss you can top with toadstool nail art. It’s thought to be inspired by his foray into magic mushrooms, which he said both fuelled his creativity and caused him to bite off the tip of his tongue.
Magic mushrooms, aka any fungi containing psilocybin, are Class A drugs in the UK and carry serious health risks. Nevertheless, there has been a rise in people experimenting with ‘microdosing’ recently, citing its potential to improve their mental health and productivity. One small study found that controlled psilocybin treatments helped relieve symptoms of depression, but it’s still a very new area of scientific research.
What is tried and tested is the mushroom supplement, taken via powders, pills and lattes for a hit of antioxidants. Though the earthiness of getting your shroom hit this way can be an acquired taste, supplements such as Moon Juice’s Spirit Dust, which contains calming reishi, are easily sprinkled into tea, coffee or even pancake batter.
Origins Mega-Mushroom Treatment Lotion, £33
Milk Makeup Bionic Bronzer, £26
Moon Juice Spirit Dust, £39
Food & drink
Whether you’re growing your own or dining out, the world’s your king oyster.
Sustainable, vegan and locally sourced, shrooms tick off every foodie buzzword of the moment. According to The Grocer, the were the fourth bestselling item of fresh produce in 2021, up 2.4% on the year before. “Shoppers are buying mushrooms as an alternative to meat more than ever,” explains editor Kevin White. The sad stroganoff of yore has been ousted by recipes that celebrate fungi’s complex flavours: at Hackney restaurant Elliot’s, king oyster mushrooms are planed into pappardelle-like ribbons and topped with egg yolk. Beloved, too, is the mushroom parfait at Fallow in Mayfair, where mushrooms are grown in the cellar.
You can, of course, forage for wild mushrooms yourself. Megan Howlett is the TikTok star behind The Garden Cottage, who gives advice on how to identify safe enoki mushrooms. Finding the one you’re looking for, she says, is an unparalleled thrill.
DIY kits from Beyond Roots offer the chance to grow your own pink oyster or lion’s mane mushrooms – fried off with butter or tossed into orzo they add a delicate, earthy flavour. Wash down your fungi feast with Fungtn, a non-alcoholic craft beer brewed with medicinal mushrooms – it’s tastier than it sounds, promise.
Image credits: Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Pantone, Harry Styles Pleasing, Elliot’s restaurant. Product shots courtesy of brands. Main image via Getty.