Colour, Volume & Fun. Bottega Veneta Resort 2021

From everything we’ve seen from Daniel Lee‘s Bottega Veneta, the resort 2021 collection is the most fun one. Was it the lockdown madness that let the designer take a more playful route? Lee has grasped that the world has changed dramatically and that the way we will want to dress has too. Hence the comfort and familiarity of that cotton and an emphasis on surprisingly homey knits, which represent an evolution of his thinking about all the stretch materials he used on his last runway. But there was no retreat into recuts or the safety of recent successes. “In the darkest moments creativity is so key,” Lee said. “It’s about making clothes you can’t find in other stores. Otherwise what’s the point?” Lee’s exploration of silhouette led him in a couple of different directions. His tailored jackets are sculptural in proportion with those full-legged pants, featuring nipped waists and a V-shaped construction in back that accentuates their shapeliness. Some of the garments look quite cumbersome, even if that exaggeration was intentional. But for all the emphasis on over-sized volumes, Lee also likes a lean, abbreviated look for women: say, a knitted top and matching fringed above-the-knee straight skirt, or a narrow minidress with one of the portrait necklines he’s made a signature. These leggy pieces have a straightforward sexiness, one that’s likely to be influential as designers and the women they dress search for the new post-crisis. But Lee undercuts the sexiness in these pictures with substantial lug-soled, lace-up boots whose vibe is cool and young. Another thing that won’t go unnoticed about this collection is its gorgeous, expressive, bold color palette, which seems to be taken straight out of Dario Argento’s Suspiria or an Almodóvar film. Lee matched a vibrant jade pair of his voluminous pants with a red tech mesh shirt, adding acid yellow pointy loafers and a chocolate brown bag for good measure. Then there’s the electric lilac hue of an A-line shearling coat, a color that reappears on a knit skirt suit and matching cardigan in what crafting circles would call the popcorn stitch, and the bubble gum pink of patent glove leather pumps with glittery acrylic heels. Fashion, at its most compelling, brings pleasure because it paints a vision of the future that looks fresh and new. If Lee’s playful printed dress in an intrecciato print of naked human bodies and the pouch bag in car seat cover wood beads the model carries with it become souvenirs of this strange lockdown season, it’s because they’re totems of a design team having fun. Who doesn’t want more of that in this moment?

All collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Gucci Team. Gucci Resort 2021

Last February, days before the coronavirus crisis broke out near Milan, Alessandro Michele staged a Gucci show in the round that was spectacular and intimate at once. In retrospect, it looks rather prescient: in inviting the audience behind the scenes and exposing the backstage goings-on of the hair and makeup crews and model dressers Michele was celebrating the very things that we’re all missing so badly in COVID-19-time: human interaction, collaboration, being part of a receptive audience. “Fashion is not just what we decide to show,” Michele said on a WhatsApp video call earlier this week. “The idea that a campaign is just a piece of paper? No, there is another show in the show.” The concept for the 12-hour livestream the brand produced for resort 2021, which the designer named “Epilogue,” and staged at the glorious Renaissance-era Palazzo Sacchetti in Rome with a natural soundtrack of cicadas, is to document the advertising campaign, to capture that “show within the show.” Only this time, Michele explained, “it’s less theater. This one will be more dirty. It’s a few cameras in a very Andy Warhol way, maybe they’re looking at nothing interesting. The experiment doesn’t work if I plan too much.” The Gucci designers working in his studio modelled the resort looks they worked on. On the WhatsApp call, he remembered a time as a young designer when a piece he was making was pulled for a show or a shoot and he didn’t see it again. “It was like someone tried to take from you your son.” Spotlighting his colleagues was “something beautiful,” he said, “they were so happy.” As for the clothes themselves, Michele called them “a celebration of my point of view, things that I did in the past, pieces that belong to my aesthetic.” That aesthetic is as singular and idiosyncratic as ever. Min Yu Park, a men’s ready-to-wear designer wears a beaded floral jacket, a floral lace dress, and a turquoise necklace that matches her Jackie bag. Alexandra Muller, an embroidery designer, models a long filmy floral-print ruffled dress with clear sequins that pick up the light. David Ring, a celebrities designer, sports an embroidered velvet blazer, a striped tee, logo flares, and sneakers. Just taking a glace at the clothes tells you right away: Gucci. Back in May Michele announced Gucci’s reduced show schedule. This may be the brand’s last resort collection, but the name “Epilogue” might be a misnomer. The learnings of lockdown – the importance of his team, the value of feeling – will stick with him, he thinks. “It’s not just a way to close, but to say what we’ve done and put seeds of what will be in the next chapter. Yes, it could also be a beginning.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Honesty and Intelligence. Prada Resort 2021 + Men’s SS21

In her last solo “show”, before Raf Simons enters the role of co-creative designer in the September collection (I really, really, really can’t wait for this match to finally happen!), Miuccia Prada delivered a collection that was absolutely 100% Prada vocabulary. “As times become increasingly complex, clothes become straightforward, unostentatious, machines for living and tools for action and activity.” So said the press notes for The Show That Never Happened, which was a digitally delivered group installation of five Prada-facing films by Willy Vanderperre, Juergen Teller, Joanna Piotrowska, Martine Syms, and Terence Nance. They were all made at the Fondazione Prada, the company’s museum of contemporary art collection and the place of all Prada events. The film – which ran consecutively with the addition of a quick final walk at the end before Mrs. Prada’s usual fleeting, half-lateral bow – came to 11 minutes, the ideal duration of a live fashion show. The collection was all about pure elegance, simplicity and a sort of detox from fashion noise. Many looks were identical to Miuccia’s autumn-winter 1995 show, which forever became the image of 90s Prada. Architectural, 1950s silhouettes mixed with a touch of feminine cliché (of course, done in Prada’s ugly chic manner) for resort, and smart, business ready tailoring with a touch of nylon for men’s summer – ta-da, a collection that really got me obsessed in the last few weeks of digital presentations. The press release continued with more food for thought chez Miuccia: “I think that our job as fashion designers is to create clothes for people, that is the honesty of it. That is really the value of our job – to create beautiful, intelligent clothes. This season, we focused on that idea: It is about clothes, about giving value to pieces. The clothes are simple, but with the concept of simplicity as an antidote to useless complication. This is a moment that requires some seriousness, a moment to think and to reflect on things. What do we do, what is fashion for, what are we here for? What can fashion contribute to a community?” As Prada and her peers (plus Raf Simons, of course!) work to anticipate how change alters the specifications of taste and clothes it will be fascinating to watch the architecture of fashion change too.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Thoughtful. Jil Sander Resort 2021

If the pandemic has made us consider a more thoughtful, responsible approach to fashion consumption and an appreciation for the consistency of values expressed by a labels’ ethos, then Jil Sander’s Lucie and Luke Meier could find themselves in a good position. “In a certain way, the pandemic has just reaffirmed what we believe in,” they said during their resort presentation, held at the brand’s showroom in Milan. “This tragic situation has made people take a long, hard look at themselves, their habits, their values. It’s what we’ve done. We really still find that our path is a good one; our philosophy hasn’t changed.” The Meiers have built their fashion credentials around a care for quality, creating pieces that stand the test of time while being of the moment, with an emphasis on great execution. The human touch of craftsmanship is paramount to their aesthetic – just take a look at a clean-cut, pleated dress in butter yellow linen with embroidered jacquard inserts appliqued on the peasant sleeves, all woven by a family in Sardinia with traditional local techniques. For resort, the designers favored pure silhouettes, together with their flair for style opposites: strong proportions and sensible fabrics; a masculine sharpness of cut and delicate choice of colors. Shapes were kept sculptural but softer than usual; suiting was given a chic modernist feel, as in a sharp-cut masculine blazer in cream wool silk gazar paired with a circle-cut, cone-shaped asymmetrical matching skirt. Contrasting the restraint the designers favor, a comforting, pillowy padded blanket cape in high-shine white silk satin with baby blue inserts was thrown languidly over a feminine double-cashmere sleeveless dress. Meiers’ conceptual approach to the brand is all about consistency: “We don’t think that the Jil Sander woman really changes,” they said. “She cares about really good design, beautiful fabrics, pieces that are very well made; all these elements are now becoming more important than ever. People will probably consume less but better; they still want to treat themselves to a beautiful piece.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Italian Summer. Valentino Resort 2021

This is the ideal summer state of mind: Mariacarla Boscono dancing, laughing and sun-bathing at the Italian sea-side, wearing Valentino and being photographed by her friend – and the brand’s creative director – Pierpaolo Piccioli. Italy was the European country that was first tragically hit by COVID-19, and to many it seemed that good days aren’t coming back anytime soon. Now the country seems to gradually revive and the dream Italian summer is back on track. Optymism is winning. “I never stopped working,” Piccioli told Vogue during a Zoom call. “I profoundly love what I do; this is my passion, something fundamental for me – it isn’t just work.” The resort 2021 collection is the byproduct of the time spent alone drawing and painting, while remaining connected with his team. “I wanted to convey spontaneity and truth, even imperfection—but it’s the feel of human imperfection you long for right now,” he explained. “The collection was born out of flat drawings – paper and pencil, no styling, no mood board, just researching on paper shapes that linger in your head. A pure fashion process, as it should be done.” The human quality of creativity is paramount to Piccioli’s practice. He has imbued the rarefied world of couture with emotional values – exposing and revealing its craft and handmade processes, and shining a light on his team of seamstresses and artisans as essential players behind his fabulous creations. This center still firmly holds. “I wanted [to communicate] something even more personal, very close to myself. Conveying a sense of intimacy, a sentiment of individual connection, of emotion. I decided to photograph the collection myself because it seemed more coherent in this moment to send out a message with no filters, no manipulation, no other interpretation or mediation. I didn’t want the usual glamour of a fashion shoot,” he continued. “What I was interested in focusing on was what I’ve missed most in this confinement – the simple feeling of human connection, of shared love and friendship. This is what I wanted to bring about in my images.” Not surprisingly, simplicity is the collection’s key word. “It’s a radical simplicity though,” reflected Piccioli. “I wanted to be even more radical, in that the simplicity I’ve tried to achieve in shapes, volumes, and construction comes at the end of a process of resolved complexities. It’s a study and a project on cut, proportions, balance. Reducing and subtracting to reach the core, something essential and pure – but not more banal. Simple, not simplified.” There’s an ease and a fluidity of movement, a feel for freedom and effortlessness exuding from the lean silhouettes of caftans, elongated shift dresses, capes, and separates. Defined by strong, solid colors inspired by Mark Rothko’s chromatically powerful palette, pure shapes were infused with a vibrant, joyful flair. A few prints inspired by 18th-century tapestries were rendered as inconspicuous abstract strokes of color, as if they were just traces of memories, or shadows of the decorative motifs’ former selves. And what’s more special than a dear friend you’ve known and loved for years? “Mariacarla and I, we go back a long way,” he said. A spontaneous energy radiates from the images, shot by Piccioli in the natural surroundings of his home: a lake where he goes swimming; a sulfur mine where Pier Paolo Pasolini shot some scenes from his 1964 movie Il Vangelo Secondo Matteo. There’s a palpable sense of intimacy and of a familiar bond between photographer and model. Again, individuality and humanity are the pivots around which the collection, which was designed to appeal to both genders, came alive.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look: Stella Jean AW14

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Stella Jean, Rome-based designer with Haitian origins, is recognized as the first Black Italian designer. She is considered to be Giorgio Armani’s protégé, and her collections are some of the boldest moments every Milan fashion week. The basis of Jean’s work is multiculturalism applied to fashion, resulting in a cultural fusion of her own métisse identity. Her work often merges classical Italian tailoring with stylistic features of varying cultures, whether its wax prints from Burkina Faso or artisan embroideries made in India. Above is my all-time favourite Stella Jean look from her delightful autumn-winter 2014 collection. For more of the designer, see my previous posts on her or check out her site!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Lets Talk About Prada SS05!

I’m always obsessed with a Prada collection. Sometimes, I’m completely absorbed in her take on bourgeoisie and conservative dressing. Another time, I drift away in her more surreal styles. But lately, Miuccia Prada‘s spring-summer 2005 keeps popping over and over again in my mind. It’s like a scent of summer holidays, which are the perfect balance of heavenly relax and active experience of discovering. Back in the day, Miuccia acknowledged that this collection was a leap from her more demanding line-ups. “A vague idea of birds; birds of vanity, like peacocks, parrots, and swans,” was a starting point in her restless search for change, she explained. “I also wanted to move toward something more young and sporty, tall and narrow.” To bring the audience into her new reality, Prada stripped her familiar clean, boxed-in stage set down to the bare industrial walls, then projected Rem Koolhaas’ mind-scrambling collage of live news images onto them. It was a lot to take in before the show even started – but that, one suspects, was exactly Prada’s intention with the clothes, as well. There was so much going on. A rhapsody of colour, an excess of textures. But also, a different silhouette (short hemlines, worn mostly with flat sandals), a return to one of her favorite palettes (brown-ochre-rust), and as always, lots of artful eccentricity, like peacock feathers (I saw this dress at Didier Ludot vintage store in Paris and its magnificent) and knitted flowerpot hats. There was also a Jamaican dance hall vibe, with reggae on the sound system, Rasta stripes in the knitwear, and Caribbean crochet in the raffia hats and cardigan coats. And, oh, please note how relevant it is! That’s the power of Prada.

P.s. Happy Birthday, Miuccia!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look – Salvatore Ferragamo Resort 2020

In these very uncertain times, it’s worth trying to slow down and relax… and who wouldn’t love to stay home while wearing this gorgeous, over-sized jumpsuit from Salvatore Ferragamo‘s resort 2020 collection? In keeping with the elegant, streamlined approach Paul Andrew has introduced at Ferragamo – he calls it “sartorialism with a casual edge” – the designer as well emphasizes a workwear-inspired silhouette. Perfect for home meditating, lazy yoga or even reading a book on the balcony, no?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Soft Geometry. Missoni AW20

The spotlight of the last days of Milan fashion week was stolen by the abrupt spread of corona virus in multiple of Italian regions near the city. Still, one of those closing shows just can’t be ignored: I’m speaking of the beautiful Missoni line-up. The organizing principle was geometry. Press notes made reference to the 1884 book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, in which its author, Edwin A. Abbott, made squares sexy. Angela Missoni‘s take on geometric patterns of all kinds were collaged on every manner of knit, from the most generous of belted cardigans to body-clinging ribbed tops and tube skirts. The palette was dark and moody and shot through with metallic Lurex, and as ever the patchworking of different motifs was a highlight. The navy and gold intarsia coat with slouched-on ’80s proportions is the must-have, just as all the gorgeous blazers.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.