Total Fantasy. Moschino AW21

Jeremy Scott‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection for Moschino is hilariously good. Forget the lockdown-and-loungewear talk. Here’s total, camp fantasy. Possessed by the mad spirit of Franco Moschino, Scott has become a master of meta. He had to design this collection in tandem with the short film he wanted to make, with every model, look and dimension planned to precision before the clothes ever existed. There we were, sitting in front of screens as Scott knew we would, watching a digital show about a real-life salon show, which turned out to be a show within a show, all its players part of the line-up. In this imposed digital moment in fashion and life, Scott’s theater was a thought-provoking image of our current surreal lives: layers and layers of trompe l’oeil, in garments as well as their unreal surroundings. “I wanted to do things in film that you can’t do live,” Scott said on a video call from Los Angeles, reflecting on the two digital showcases he’s created during the lockdown period. Last season he designed a puppet-sized collection for a complex and fantastic marionette show. This time, he called upon 36 star models, It girls and pin-ups as diverse as Maye Musk (who presented the salon show) to Precious Lee, Dita Von Teese, and Winnie Harlow (who attended it), and Hailey Bieber, Miranda Kerr, and Shalom Harlow (who modeled in it). They staged a multi-dimensional portrayal of a lady’s everyday life: outfits for business, leisure, upkeep, travels and balls; all activities we haven’t had a reason to dress for over the past year. Even for a wardrobe designed for coming out of lockdown, the Old Hollywood Technicolor glamour of Scott’s collection – titled Jungle Red after the name of the nail varnish du jour in the 1939 George Cukor film The Women – was decidedly extravagant. “I guess I live in such a fantasy land I didn’t really think of it that way. I mean, you have to get dressed anyway, don’t you?” Scott quipped, rolling his eyes at continued fashion forecasts for comfort-wear. “Comfort schmomfort! What we need now more than ever is fantasy and glamour and things that make you feel wonderful, and I don’t think sweatpants do that.” So, call it a surreal wardrobe for surreal times: for lunch, little tweed dresses with purses dotted around them as adornment. For work, bankers’ pinstripe suits reconstructed into bustier dresses. For the countryside, Franco Moschino’s cloud and cow motifs unified on gowns alongside burlap potato sack peplum dresses – all delightfully impractical, of course, for the actual countryside. There was Kirsty Hume with a windmill on her head. And for afternoons at the museum, chic skirt suits cut like biker jackets, and paintings that came to life in brushstroke evening wear. Flamingo gloves framed the arrival of an actual dress shaped like the bird. Dita Von Teese closed the film in a show-stopping moment that was, quite literally, a cheeky statement of glamour in a time of dullness. All’s well that ends well, as they say. Let that be the concluding remark for this digital chapter in fashion history, which no one has aced quite like Jeremy Scott. Brilliant!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Easy Opulence. Prada AW21

Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons‘ joined vision for Prada starts to unravel. It’s elusive, enigmatic and far from straightforward – and what’s most important, exciting. Autumn-winter 2021 is the second full season coming from those two brilliant fashion minds, and while the debut left many hungry for more, the latest line-up has the virtual audience in awe. Adjusting to the idea that “normal” isn’t coming back took all of us longer than it probably should have. But whatever shape the world takes when we re-emerge, there’s a collective feeling of hope that’s new. At a small press conference after the Q&A (which featured Prada lovers and collaborators like Marc Jacobs, Hunter Schafer and Rem Koolhaas) Miuccia said, “optimism is mounting.” Reason? The inevitable brightening of moods as winter ends and spring begins, or the pleasures that Prada and Simons are finding in collaboration. “It feels natural,” Simons said of their partnership. “At the same time, of course, it’s challenging, but I expected that. And I wanted it to be, otherwise I wouldn’t have come.” Together, these factors produced a collection with a tantalizing sense of glamour. It glimmered most clearly in the rectangular double-sided wraps – paillettes on one side, faux fur on the other – that models clutched to their breasts in a gesture “of protection, but also of elegance.” One such wrap was worn over a matching black paillette dress which itself was layered over the second-skin jacquard knits that appeared in many of the looks. In its endorsement of these foundational knits, the collection was a showcase for the key way the pandemic is changing fashion. Ease is the flip side of elegance: In 2021, in contrast to the past, both are integral; and women seem unlikely to sacrifice the former for the latter. “Ease and movement were very important to us,” Simons confirmed. This is a positive development, especially because Prada and Simons were able to manage it while also reigniting a fashion spark that a year of online living has otherwise made dormant. A few of the compelling ways to celebrate our reemergence here included a drop-shoulder, puff-sleeve coat in electric yellow and green, a chesterfield in midnight sequins, and a clutch coat in faux fur. It’s easy opulence, fit for our times.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Hot Confidence. Blumarine AW21

Blumarine is hot! While nobody really paid attention to Nicola Brognano‘s debut last season, it was clear that he (with Lotta Volkova’s styling help) has a plan for this Italian brand that once was the synonym of sexy glamour. “I’ve always been fond of Blumarine since I was a kid, Vogue Italia issues were treasured in my mother’s bridal atelier,” Brognano said during a visit to the set where the fall video was being filmed. “I still remember vividly the Blumarine advertising campaigns shot by Helmut Newton in the ’90s, they were fabulous!” That was the label’s heyday. Making it pertinent for today’s sought-after young audience, winning not only their social media attention but also their spending power is the challenge the designer has to face. He might succeed – he ticks all the boxes. For autumn-winter 2021, Brognano looked at his teenage heroines, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and their early aughts excesses. He was a huge fan. The collection screamed Madonna-meets-Steven-Meisel-‘Sex’-Book as well. “My Blumarine is more dirty, bitchy, sexier,” he said. It definitely seems to have the punch celebrities respond to. Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and Dua Lipa have all asked for clothes, or for the impossibly high stilettos with crisscrossing full-leg straps that are becoming a hit. If Brognano knows how to put the power of stardom to good use, but he’s also business savvy. The ultra-short draped minidresses in candy colors can be covered up by cozy oversized cable-knitted cardis with fake-fur collars. Elongated crocheted-wool vests had a thrifty feel; they were see-through enough to look sexy without being too revealing. Nostalgic Blumarine fans weren’t neglected either; the everlasting roses motif was abundantly represented, digitally abstracted in liquid watercolor prints or knitted in sprouting 3D rosettes on cropped wool sweaters paired with matching briefs. Denims were totally Britney – low-slung, extra tight, bell-bottomed, and studded with crystals (properly kitschy!). Brognano’s Blumarine is firing up.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.