Pre-fall 2021 collections are gradually popping up (yes, the industry still wants you to think about next year’s autumn in this year’s winter). Paul Andrew likes to put things in context; he has so far used films and historical locations to frame his fashion narrative. In keeping with that practice, he shot the Salvatore Ferragamo pre-fall lookbook in Florence at Manifattura Tabacchi, a former cigarette factory built in the modernist style of the 1940s, which was recently rescued from a state of disrepair to become Polimoda’s campus: “It’s a progressive, creative place full of life and enthusiasm, with lots of young people hanging around,” he told Vogue during a Zoom call from his Florentine studio. It proved an apt location to convey the collection’s feel. “I want to bring joy and beauty to this world.”Andrew isn’t alone in his desire for turning toward the positive; nor is he alone in the urge to contextualize collections within a larger frame. Social and cultural issues have become non-negotiable parameters for every fashion designer who wants his creative work to resonate with a broader audience. Customers more than ever buy into conscious creativity – ethical, responsible, value-driven. Andrew is playing his part, steering Ferragamo into sustainable territory and keeping his commitment to responsible practices – reducing waste by choosing deadstock leathers; using recycled nylons and certified natural fibers; editing collections with a tighter focus. Doing less but better has become his mantra, a belief that has him embracing a timeless, nondisposable aesthetic. Collections are built around high-quality investment pieces that have longevity and durability, while retaining a strong contemporary appeal. This pre-fall collection is a good example of his new approach. The chic purity of line and the slender construction Andrew favors looked timeless indeed; what made the offering distinctive was its focus on tactile leather dressing offered in many variations, highlighting the artisanal expertise of the Florentine house. Shapes and silhouettes for both the men’s and women’s lines conveyed a feel of ease and comfort, while retaining their sophistication. He didn’t shy away from the occasional statement piece either. Ample A-line and wrap dresses featured adjustable matching belts or scarves, changing them into more form-fitting shapes; slender tunics and elegant shirtdresses were often worn over matching trousers or lightweight cashmere leggings. A leather circle skirt patchworked in a bold geometric archival motif added a decorative flavor, as did the contrasting hand-painted edgings on a softly architectural nappa coat dress. “I’m really thinking of what customers will want and desire after this COVID nightmare will be over,” he mused. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that they’ll be back in stores and eager to be dressed up and to buy and invest in fashion. But they’re not going back to the old ways.” Things have to be shaken up and changed, then. “My feeling is that people will continue to be more casual, after months at home Zooming in their pajamas I’m not sure they’ll be suddenly dying to be in form-fitting garments again,” he said. “So it’s a balancing act. Whatever you do, there must be some casualness and ease combined with high-values and sophistication, refinement, beauty. But mostly, it has to have a certain vibrance – and to bring joy.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.