“We were in, I think, the fifth lockdown here in Antwerp when we started on this collection. And when I talked with my team to discuss what it would be about, it was really about outbursts: We’ve had it, and now we want to have fun, we want to party, we want to enjoy things, we want to go into the city and we want to see people.” So said Dries Van Noten, laying out his manifesto for a sensually hedonistic season while simultaneously echoing the Peter Fonda–sampled intro to Primal Scream’s “Loaded”, the soundtrack to the line-up’s excellent collection video: “We want to be free to do what we want to do!… And we want to get loaded! And we want to have a good time! And that’s what we’re gonna do!” Without inquiring as to whether Van Noten and his team got loaded, they clearly had a blast putting together this lovingly local, energy rush of a collection. That team made a shared folder of smartphone photos taken around the city, from industrially scenic crane landscapes to strobe-lit club shots via moody pool hall milieus, which were integrated as prints on paneled parkas and silky shirts. These images were then accented against a ’70s vintage Antwerp municipal logo and etchings taken (with permission) from two of Flanders’s most famous sons, Breughel and Rubens. The collaged images on the garments were shot against a backdrop of more city locales, to 56 of which Dries and his team dragged a white podium to make the look book. Of them all, the pink-tabarded school trip in look six proved ultimate evidence that these were not scenes just lazily projected in post. Van Noten said his attitude to this collection was: “What is menswear? What is womenswear? Just throw it all together and take what you like.” Conventional dichotomies were rendered attractively void in “womenswear” looks featuring tailored, overlong, and overdyed pants in English mohair over slides, and an awesome “menswear” camo parka and suit in 35 gram silk plongée lined in cotton voile. Geographically specific to Antwerp, but tolerantly nonspecific in terms of the geography of received gender norms, this was a collection that did indeed look great to get loaded in.
It was almost a year ago when Rick Owens presented his first collection of the COVID-hiatus near his home on the Lido di Venezia. Eight months on, he held his fourth and last show here, drawing a final line in the sand to mark the end of this excellent Venetian mini-Owens-epoch and augur the rebirth of something like before that will not remain the same. To be precise, the lines in the sand were mostly traced by the stacked soles of Owens’s platform boots, which were cut down this season from thigh-high to mid-calf and outfitted with special side pockets in which to stash mini fog machines (emitting purportedly non-toxic, sustainable fog) and create a vivid vapor trail. The models walked the shoreline of the beach directly in front of the Excelsior Hotel, whose cabana-renting guests watched enthusiastically, creating an accidentally serendipitous backdrop. A few feet offshore were installed four powerful waterjets, which spurted joyful blasts of seawater up, up, up into the flawless blue sky. Those vast and joyful ejaculations aside, the chief conceit here were the three sizes of portable fog machines after which this collection, “Fogachine,” was named. “I fixated on the whole fog thing because we are entering a period of celebration. And I just love fog in its ambiguity. It’s got religious overtones, it’s got amyl nitrate overtones, it’s got stadium rock concert overtones…and they’re all these celebrations of everybody getting together to reach a different level of experience, a different supernatural level.” As the twangily twisted techno soundtrack by Mochipet fired up, the models began their promenade. The opening look’s boxily baggy pant was a key silhouette piece for the season, and was worn under a panel-slashed eco-cotton bodysuit. Both were undyed and off-white, a highly unusual hue for Owens, as was much of the collection that followed – a natural, softer-than-often touch the designer meant to reflect a softer-than-usual sentiment beneath. As he said: “I sense this moment of excess coming, that I can’t really participate in because I’m not an excessive guy anymore. But anyway, I had recently said that I thought we had learned some humility in the recent past – however I don’t think we did. But I am suggesting that we still can, and that is what this collection is about. It’s softer. It’s hedonistic, but I hope it’s a responsible, gentle, nice hedonistic. Although of course I am always looking on the dark side. And you know, I was able to satisfy all my appetites and I would never wish for anybody else to be deprived. But I am a little leery of the intensity that is going to come.” Owens’s fog-fugged vision of sustainable, humanistic hedonism came clad in silk topcoats in panels of vaporous opacity that were ripped at the armhole and hip to create jagged scars of canvas and horsehair. There was a shamanically pagan piece of evening wear in a cock feather jacket made by Maison Février, the Parisian plumassier to Josephine Baker. There were foggily diaphanous nylon hoodies, and patchwork Japanese denim from an originally 16th-century mill that was worn with unlikely propriety, and almost ceremonial dignity, with a pair of delicately clutched opera gloves. More Japanese denim, this time 16 oz. and woven on vintage Sakamoto looms, provided a fiery punctuation mark in its orange weft, pink warp manifestation. Animalistic texture was rendered in the monochromatic hard-shouldered coats in by-product sustainable Pirarucu dragon-scale leather. Owens said one big influence for the collection had been the mystically fierce aesthetic of Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin. “It would be disappointing to go back to excess. Next season all of the houses are going to want to show their flex. And we’re going to join in too – we’re gonna flex – and I don’t know how exactly we will be able to manifest everything that we have learned, but we’re going to have to figure it out.”
It takes time for a designer (even a very renowned one) to find his voice again. Riccardo Tisci‘s first seasons at Burberry felt overdone and unedited. But lately, starting from his spring-summer 2021 collection, it seems he finally feels confident with his role at the British house and knows what his vision for Burberry really is. The spring-summer 2022 line-up is quintessentially Tisci: dark, sensual, sharp. Filmed in an urban desert landscape by the Millennium Mills in East London’s Royal Victoria Docks, Tisci’s men’s collection distilled the aesthetic so distinct to his career into his most personal Burberry show to date. There were trench and carcoat references aplenty, but in its pure expression, this was Burberry learning Tisci’s language and not the other way around. He hacked the sleeves off outerwear and re-sculpted it into warrior form, refined the raglan lines of sportswear, and managed to make a halter-neck silhouette look hunky. Combatant chest plates continued those conversations, some reduced to just a ghostly outline on a T-shirt, while the exaggerated straps of workwear conjured visions of skeletons and rib cages, bringing back those delectable Memento Mori or Día de Muertos images Tisci’s work so often evoked in the past. Lifting each color of the Nova check, he covered the whole thing in a thick, luxe, dusty blanket of beige, white, red, and black, with sky blue nods to “the only thing we’ve been able to watch” while trapped lockdown. His interpretation of Burberry’s codes – deconstructed but refined – felt so authentic to his ethos, you wondered why he hadn’t taken this route sooner. “It takes time for a designer to find the right fit when you’re working in a company. For people outside, it seems like you just go there and…” he paused. “It’s an interesting process. The bigger the team, the more interesting and tough and difficult it is. So, it’s good that we’ve arrived here. After three years, the identity is getting clear.”The pandemic has also changed Tisci’s outlook: “I feel at home, even if I’ve been in lockdown. The world is going to restart, and for me, this was fresh. It’s what we want today: expression, freedom, physical freedom; to be ourselves. It’s punk in a positive way: breaking the boundaries.” Watching the world come back to life – “and the young generation pulling crazy looks again!” – Tisci was reminded of his early twenties when he escaped to India and had his eyes opened to another reality. “I remembered my first rave in India, with Shpongle, one of the best DJs in trance music,” he said, referring to the group that also scored the show, “partying in these open spaces, with all this nature, with all these young generations from around the world, being myself and expressing myself. I come from a poor family, but raves were somewhere I could express myself and be on the same level as everybody else.” Imbuing his collection with those memories of rave, it was as if that scene was once again giving Tisci a place to freely express himself.
I wasn’t entirely convinced by Nicolas di Felice’s debut at Courrèges last spring, but things are looking up with his venture into menswear. It’s actually his first men’s collection period; Di Felice has only designed womenswear until now. André Courrèges himself made men’s clothes from about 1973 to the mid-’80s, but it hasn’t been part of the brand picture for many years, so launching it was a blank slate situation. Di Felice’s approach was to think hard about what he and the guys on his design team want to wear. The streamlined, minimal sensibility of original Courrèges remains, but there’s little to none of the leftover Space Age vibes that could’ve materialized. Instead, you’ll find straightforward trucker jackets in leather or washed denim; a single-breasted coat in a micro-check; ribbed knit, elastic waist pants; even jeans. There’s a pair of stretch vinyl trousers with circular cut-outs down the side seams and a tank with a single, bigger cut-out on its front, but with the hot vax summer that’s ahead of us and the new gen’s openness to experimentation that level of exposure is likely to look less provocative that it once did. The bright spot among the women’s pieces he showed today was a tank dress with the signature cut-out paired with kick-flare pants in sunshine yellow. The overall result isn’t ground-breaking, but it’s good. And really, the Courrèges brand had a very hard time in finding its voice since it’s revival (which goes on for years and years now). One thing’s sure – Nicolas is giving his Courrèges an item-y spin, turning out relatable, identifiable clothes that took any anxiety out of buying; they’re statement-making but easy to wear.
Partly digital, partly physical, men’s Paris Fashion Week starts today. The JW Anderson spring-summer 2022 (and women’s resort 2022) look-book was shot by Juergen Teller, who perfectly captured what’s on Jonathan Anderson‘ mind this season. “Caught in the moment, when sexuality awakens. There is palpable ambiguity, and provocative wrongness, to his dressing choices“, Anderson described the guy he pictures in this playful, bold offering. The collection hits a juvenile note with colourful and hedonistic clothing as a mean of self-expression that blur the lines between stay-at-home, sports and club dressing: “The kind of glorification of being who you are or what want to be: the idea of privacy of the individual“. The line-up’s instant must-have? All the strawberry knitwear, for both him and her. The designer looks forward to full re-emergence, and is clearly ready to celebrate the good days that are coming!
All collages by Edward Kanarecki. Look-book photos by Juergen Teller for JW Anderson.