Vetements isn’t what it used to be, and for a couple of seasons now – ironically – the label feels like a mimic of itself. Since Demna Gvasalia’s departure from the label to focus solely on Balenciaga, the brand seems to put emphasis on more commercial stuff. Still, in the spring-summer 2022 look-book featuring over a hundred looks, there are some bits of the Vetements energy that made the brand so controversial (and appealing) a couple of years ago. The checked backdrop of the collection will be familiar to Photoshop users. It’s the background against which graphic designers do their work, and it offers a hint as to what’s on cofounder Guram Gvasalia’s mind. He told Vogue he’s been thinking a lot about our digital existence: “I started to ask myself: What is reality today? We live in this 2D world; the question is, when you scroll through Instagram, is it photoshopped or is it real?” Here’s another one: “Do we consume the internet or does it consume us?” Public opinion may be souring on Silicon Valley, but its digital products have us more firmly in their grip than ever. The pandemic deepened our connections with our computers and smartphones, even as we longed to reacquaint ourselves with nature. The jumbled wires of server farms and a computer font straight out of The Matrix (a timely reference, with The Matrix 4 due out at Christmas) mix with pixelated salamanders and flower prints so bright they almost glow. For every shell suit there was a siren-y gown, and logo-stamped jeans were dressed up with a seriously sharp double trench. The masculine tailoring with its strong shoulder lines, the floral dresses, the puffers and parkas – it’s all about the Vetements foundation pieces. And the slogan tees and hoodies are cleverer than ever; “The Devil Doesn’t Wear Prada” example, Gvasalia said, is an idea he pinned to his mood board some time ago, for a would-be collaboration. A flame print that appeared on a wrap dress and matching boots, among other sportier pieces, was reprised from the brand’s last time on the runway, circa autumn-winter 2020. The boldness of a Vetements show has been integral to the brand’s success from its start. The problem with 2D? It’s not 3D. Gvasalia seemed enthused about the prospect of returning to the runway post-pandemic. “We are 100% going back the moment we can travel,” he promised.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.