Nautical Dreams. Rosie Assoulin SS22

Rosie Assoulin is back. Well, not that she was actually absent – her delicious wine project, Vivanterre, keeps on growing, and her clothing line continuously keeps on delivering the wittiest eveningwear in New York – but spring-summer 2022 line-up is the first full-blown collection coming from the designer since the pandemic has started. Assoulin hasn’t shown a new collection since the eeriest March of 2020. That brilliant autumn-winter 2020 collection made it to Paris, but she and her husband Max, the brand’s CEO, made the wise choice to stay in New York as the virus descended on Europe. Eighteen months later, she was back in Paris working double-duty: taking IRL appointments in a courtyard showroom and Zooming with editors. She and her husband have been busy on the business side of things, too: In May, they formed a partnership with HIM Co. to scale the label in Europe and Asia. The most noticeable change for spring 2022 was the expansion into vegan leather shoes, like a preppy new sneaker, and new unisex sweaters intarsia’d with the brand’s graphic logo. What stands out most is the collection’s surprising anchor motif – a timeless symbol. Several looks feature bandeau tops hand-knitted in the curvy shape of an anchor, while a crisp white dress had one cut away at the ribcage. Other pieces came in watercolor anchor prints or with beaded fishing lures dangling from the sleeves; in a subtler twist, a white cotton gown had an oversized sailor collar fanning down the back. These summer-perfect pieces felt light and charming, delicate yet quirky, polished but with plenty of humor. There’s always a story behind Rosie’s curiosities, too: the sailing idea came from her kids’ favorite book, Amos and Boris. It got her thinking about going on a far-flung, care-free adventure again. The looks that captured that feeling best had a DIY feeling about them, in that you could twist and style them multiple ways. An ivory evening coat was cut with sashes in the front, to be left loose or tied in a bow, while a glittery one-shouldered gown was shown over black trousers, Assoulin’s signature twist on black tie. Other looks got more inventive: for instance, the skirt of that white cotton gown could be removed to become a shorter day dress. A shimmery coral bustier dress came with an attached matching shirt, inspired by the best-selling “one thousand ways” sweater Assoulin launched last year, which merged a cable-knit camisole and shrug. As for the dress, you could wear the shirt open, tie the sleeves around your waist or loop them around your shoulders, or remove the shirt entirely. It’s at least five looks in one. As the pandemic situation seems to calm down, smaller labels start to gradually re-emerge. Rosie Assoulin takes us on a dreamy sea cruise – I’m hopping in!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Reminiscence. Junya Watanabe SS22

The big three names from Japan – Rei Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe and Kei Ninomiya – again skipped Paris Fashion Week, and they will probably do so until the pandemic completely winds up. From Tokyo, Watanabe treated the internet with a charming collection filled with gilded draping, filmy fabrics, disrupted tailoring and printed collaborations with Japanese, Chinese, Nepalese, and Thai contemporary artists. He called it “Eastern Reminiscence,” his term for his reminiscences of pre-pandemic travel. Looking through a collection of photojournalism that Jamie Hawkesworth, the British photographer captured in 2019 in Bhutan, India, and Kashmir, Watanabe “became nostalgic for Asia” and “the pure heart of people” he saw there. It was all there to read in the intersections of his gently-elegant folds, layers of glimmering asymmetric drapery, brocades and the fragments of biker jackets, kilts, and men’s tailored jackets. First up: a white dress printed with a skull artwork – part punk, part Chinese porcelain – by the Chinese artist Jacky Tsai, based in London. Watanabe had Japanese heroes working with him too: black-on-flesh-colored patterns in semi-translucent dresses almost as fine as second-skins were by the tattoo artist Nissaco, renowned for his geometric work. A dress with a psychedelic artwork of goldfish and stylized women’s heads came from a 1975 animation by Keiichi Tanaami, the legendary pop artist who has been working  his hallucinatory visions since the ’60s. Powerful hand-drawn black calligraphy by Wang Dongling, director of the Modern Calligraphy Study Center at the China National Academy of Arts, scrolled a Tang Dynasty poem over white dresses. Ang Tsherin Sherpa, a Tibetan artist based in California, creator of modern artworks based on traditional Tibetan thangka iconography, collaborated in orange-blue-green grid patterns sliding sideways over a draped dress. A vivid orange smock emblazoned with flowers and a painted dragon is a Thai fantasia dreamed up for Watanabe by the Bangkok-based illustrator Phannapast Taychamaythakool. It’s obvious how much mutual respect Watanabe enjoys with his creative peers who are all exploring traditions and crafts in free-wheeling, sometimes surreal parallel. The fantastically textured metallic series of evening pieces beautifully related to Jamie Hawkesworth’s photographs of golden female temple deities. This was definitely one of Junya Watanabe’s most inspired collection for a long time.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.