Hello in 2022! How about starting the year with something simple, yet precious and absolutely beautiful? Sophie Buhai is one of my favourite jewellery designers from Los Angeles. Her namesake jewellery collection, established in 2015, has renewed the modernist tradition of solid sterling silver with an emphasis on sculptural silhouettes of substantial weight. Each jewellery piece coming from her brand is made by hand in LA by master artisans using recycled metals to minimize environmental impact. Her signature silver pieces comprise the line’s permanent collection – a series of modern classics that transcend seasons and trends. For resort 2022, the designer works as well with onyx and lapis, creating refined, shell-inspired pendants, beaded necklaces and donut rings. This season, the designer has also introduced nautical-style decorative hair combs, claw clips and chignon holders, all hand-made in France.
Alessandro Michele‘s latest Gucci adventures are just beyond words. Going for extreme glamour after nearly two years of lockdown style is the best thing one can come up with for spring-summer 2022. But Michele pushed the envelope in festive dressing even further. Gucci’s name has long been linked with Hollywood, long before the upcoming “House of Gucci” film starring Lady Gaga, and its connection with the movies was everywhere you looked at Alessandro Michele’s fab fashion show. There, in the front row, was Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing an updated version of the Tom Ford-designed red velvet Gucci tux she sported circa 1996. And there, on the runway, were a dozen celebrity “friends of Gucci,” including Macaulay Culkin, Miranda July, Jodie Turner-Smith, Phoebe Bridgers and Jared Leto. The backdrop was the iconic Chinese Theater and Hollywood Boulevard itself – “that temple of the gods,” Michele called it. The designer credits his mother, a movie buff and an assistant in a production company, with encouraging his love of old Hollywood. But equally this collection was about contemporary Los Angeles, a place the designer first visited at the age of 27 and that he has much affection for. “LA is not a fashion city, but it’s so fashionable,” he said backstage before the show. “Sometimes they are not appropriate, but in being not appropriate they are so precise. Maybe it belongs to my way of looking at fashion – it’s personal.” When it was finally time to return to in-person shows after two seasons of the virtual experiences that lockdowns required, Los Angeles seemed the obvious choice. Seven years into his Gucci tenure, he’s presented in New York, Paris, Rome, and most often Milan, but Michele’s collections have never made more sense than this one did tonight on Hollywood Boulevard, with its neon lights and Walk of Stars. At the post-show press conference, Michele said he originally wanted to be a costume designer. He spent part of the day today at the freshly opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where he admired a bow-covered Shirley Temple dress, among other pieces. On the topic of special occasion dresses, it’s fair to say he raised the bar for himself this season. With their cinematic sweep, if his gowns don’t make it to a museum, we’ll surely be seeing them soon on an awards show red carpet. With his hungry eye, he’s absorbed all manner of Hollywood tropes, and mixed in with the screen sirens were would-be stars fresh off the bus in calico dresses, with dreams as big as their 10-gallon cowboy hats. “My Hollywood is in the streets,” he said, and the sartorial-sporty mix of wide-lapeled jackets worn with brightly colored knit leggings and running sneakers did look lifted from real life, combining post-pandemic polish with the famous California ease. As for the sex-toy jewelry, and the erotic undercurrent of skintight latex and see-through lace, Michele reminded the press conference crowd that Gucci isn’t a “monarchy of bourgeois” like many of its heritage brand peers, but has its roots in the “jet-set, artists, and cinema.” As Madonna once sang, “you get it right now, cause you’re in Hollywood”…
ERL is on everyone’s lips. Although Justin Bieber and Dua Lipa wear it on the daily, and Chloë-the-queen-of-style-Sevigny shared her love for the new collection on her Insta-stories yesterday, it still feels somewhat niche and off-the-radar. It’s not available in every store yet, so there’s a feeling of appeal-driving deficit. Eli Russell Linnetz’s name causes conversations – and you hear a spectrum of feelings, from delight and reluctance to excitement and skepticism. One thing’s sure: ERL is thriving, and it’s just the start. The California-based brand, now in its fourth full season with Dover Street Market Paris, is not just clothing – it’s everything. A way of being, of putting an ab-skimming tee with tatty, low-slung vaguely Hollister-ish jeans, sure, but also a method for re-assessing your life and your style. Theatricality, time, and obsession are important tenets of ERL-ism, emphasis on obsession – these are some maniacally pored over garments. “Cross-dimensional hitchhiking, making the way to California” and “a romantic blowing in the wind journey across all parts of America” were two ways Linnetz described his spring 2022 mood. He’s taken his surfer boys and plopped them in a pickup truck, scanning through the hayfields and mountainsides of mid-America, with pit stops at prom and football matches along the way. The ERL dude’s got a new passenger too: Linnetz is launching womenswear, and it’s an equally manic trip through the codes of casual American style. Tiered do-si-do skirts in acid trip colors clash with girlish cotton tops and school picture day knitwear, dotted with embroidered flowers. Most of the collection is shared across the genders, giant shearling pieces and wide wale cords offering something humble, while radioactive tuxedos and Fogal tights printed with archival Rudi Gernreich patterns looking aggressively kitsch. Linnetz photographed the pieces himself, in his Venice Beach studio, on street-cast models. Earnest-faced, obvious hunks and wallflowers who skew young, almost disturbingly prepubescent. Can a real guy ever look as good in an orange V-front cable knit polo sweater? Can a real woman capture the kookiness of a half-blazer half, floral top? ERL is tapping into the American Dream of a new generation: to become the character you say you are.
Looking at her autumn-winter 2021 collection, it’s visible that Raquel Allegra has been spending most of lockdown in her garden – it’s the attitude, easiness and colours that say it all. You can even glimpse it in her look-book, filled with lush trees, towering leafy plants, succulents, and flowers growing every which way. Allegra has always strived to feel in communion with her surroundings, but the pandemic awakened a new urgency to bring this more fully into her work. “Human nature: We are of nature, not separate,” she wrote in a letter about the collection. Her artful clothes were a comfort to women stuck at home this year, but it’s easy to imagine wearing them out in nature too, whether you’re gardening in one of her tie-dyed jumpsuits or spending a week in the woods with a duffel of jersey separates and zero cell service. For autumn, she paid closer attention to how her clothes may unintentionally impact those surroundings – namely after they’re already in your closet. Going forward, nearly all of her garment tags will read “machine washable,” not “dry-clean only,” in an effort to avoid the toxic chemicals involved in the dry-cleaning process. Not many brands consider that. Now, her customer can choose her own detergent, ideally a nontoxic one. Allegra said the shift was just as much about streamlining our lives; dry-cleaning is simply a hassle, and it often inspires us to wear our favorite things less often than we’d like. Allegra’s clothes are ultrasoft, but they aren’t meant to be precious; she wants you to wear them every day, wash them when you need to, and repeat. The collection had a great balance of “masculine” and “feminine” details and silhouettes, with hoodies and mannish trousers on one end and sleek, sensual tank dresses on the other. A clever ruffled kerchief lent a bit of Victorian charm knotted over sweatshirts and blazers. And after the year we’ve had, who isn’t craving a little color? Allegra’s new season colour palette is super inspiring, from the shades of lilac to zesty yellow. The t-shirt with “Somebody in California loves you” is another favourite. Topanga coolness!
If The Elder Statesman was a music album, to me, it would be Lana Del Rey’s latest Chemtrails Over The Country Club. It’s laid-back, it’s care-free, it’s soothing. Greg Chait‘s California-based company makes the trippiest luxurious knitwear out there, and with every season, he manages to expand his world in a natural, considered way. The pre-fall 2021 collection was photographed on a troupe of homesteaders and pot farmers in Northern California, and the autumn-winter 2021 line-up at Biosphere 2 – an environmental simulation in Arizona. In both contexts, Chait’s sun-drenched, signature style is key: clothing engineered for durability, warmth, and optimum vibes. For the latter collection, Mordechai Rubinstein, the photographer and hippie dandy, offered his eye for a swirling tie-dye collaboration. There is a new crochet program in which studio scraps are knotted into trousers and hoodies, each one unique and groovy. The brand’s new fabric, a cotton-cashmere herringbone, was cut into button-downs and casual pants, which were hand-dyed in a lot behind the studio. The inside of the herringbone is electric with color and the exterior faded, a result of the fabric blend. Chait describes it as sort of a happy accident; cashmere takes dye well, cotton doesn’t. Going through the entire collection you get the sense that Chait and company are having a great time, trying to stay smart, small, and sustainable. And it pays off!