Emotional Reality. Jil Sander SS22

Lucie and Luke Meier made a life change this year – they had a baby girl in June. That kind of development can alter a designer’s perspective, and backstage they discussed their new point of view: “It’s about embracing a positive future,” Lucie said. “Yes,” interjected Luke, “kids are a material reminder that the future has to be better.” In their four years at Jil Sander the Meiers haven’t often talked about emotions; in the past, at least, they’ve been more comfortable discussing the cut and line of their clothes. This season the cut and line were, at turns, boxy and oversize or lightly nipped. Those details are important, they’re what separate the grownups from the kids, after all; but they’re only part of why people shop for and buy fashion. In the end, it often comes down to emotion. And tapping into personal emotions is bound to make a collection feel more connected. That’s what this Jil Sander collection felt: more connected to real life. Chalk that up to all the denim, which was cut loose and slouchy and in washes beyond basic indigo. Or chalk it up to the models’ mules and boots, which were chic yet still friendly. For spring-summer 2022, they experimented with a range of pastels and brights, and added in some zebra print for good measure. The purple-ish tone of the overheads made the colors shift as the looks came down the long runway. “We’ve learned not to take things too seriously,” said Lucie. That came across clearest in a couple of outfits at the end, which layered sequin-embroidered shifts over trousers and boots. Those sequined shifts count as a real departure for the Meiers: loose, playful, and fun.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

That Girl. Fendi SS22

Kim Jones’s spring-summer 2022 collection for Fendi was a line-up of classically-flavored silhouettes and color progressions played against an irresistible decorative sample of archive Antonio López illustrations. The models glided out from backstage down a runway whose arches echoed the house’s Roman home, the Palazzo della Civiltà. The big reveal of this collection, the decoration, rotated around the vintage Fendi logo drafted by López during his period of collaboration with Karl Lagerfeld. Said Jones of López: “He was a big, big fashion influencer for a lot of people, but is not so talked about. He had this relationship with Karl and with Fendi, and he helped shape so many strong visions of women, because he loved them: that feels very authentic and topical.”The illustrations drawn from the López estate’s archive originated, Jones said, as the 1960s transitioned into the 1970s. Here his work was introduced via oversized brushstrokes, then zeroed-in upon via one particular drawing, a rouge-lipped profile of Jane Forth that was abstracted into the pattern that contoured four vivid intarsia and jacquard looks. Color became more impactfully calorific as further illustrations of wavy-haired and cherry-lipped rainbow-framed women were worked into kaftans, a fringed tapestry-woven Baguette, intarsia leather thigh-highs and silks. Plexiglass jewelry by DelfinaDelletrez was shaped in gold-edged transparent lily leaves, another López signature. Many looks remained illustration free, yet even without the figurative signposting, these outfits echoed the aesthetic of the period in which López was working. Just like Jones’ debut collection last March, this was… a proper-looking collection. Quite dangerously, Kim leads Fendi to that type of predictably classy, beige-y, luxury Italian brand category, which Lagerfeld avoided at all costs.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Widly Odd. Bottega Veneta AW21

Daniel Lee‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection for Bottega Veneta, which went public just yesterday, makes me wonder if the designer’s vision for the brand starts to get over-worked and somehow distorted. The collection was presented months ago at Berlin’s Berghain to a handful of house-friends, and as the label ambitiously went Instagram-less, the mist of mystery should have done its magic. But nothing works here, and I feel like nobody paid attention to yesterday’s release. Is the flop-era of “new Bottega” on the horizon? Looking at the hectic garments, Daniel Lee’s latest line-up is ripe with diversions which rather create a sense of inconsistency. The fringed shearling coats that are this collection’s showpieces look odd, but not good-odd, rather cumbersome-odd. Reportedly, the line-up emphasizes couture-level craftsmanship. The brand’s press notes revealed that the glass dresses here take between 135 and 250 hours to complete; a black and white zebra stripe coat, meanwhile, features 4.3 million stitches on an embroidery machine; and each of these colourful outfits have over 4,000 feathers, all hand-embroidered. It sounds spectacular, but in reality it just gets lost in all the noise (or maybe the foggy look-book shots are unfortunate…). The merging of the “fabulous” and the “functional” might be one of the smartest and most satisfying pandemic after-effects on fashion, but this season Lee gets it wrong.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Joviality. Jil Sander Resort 2022

This collection is really about individuality, about the uniqueness of the person – we really cared about the human [aspect],” said Luke Meier on a Zoom call with Vogue. What we experienced in quarantine, he explained, was “the feeling of longing for special people in our lives, the interesting characters we missed, the importance of interaction.” The dialogue between fashion and art, “how they fit together,” as Meier said, isn’t just an important conceptual component in his and his wife Lucie’s fashion practice; it’s also one of the central topics of their course at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna, where they head the fashion department. “For us it’s always about how good design can enhance the individual life of a person and the beauty that surrounds that person. It shouldn’t be just about making an object that’s beautiful,” said Luke. “In everything artistic there should be something functional, and it has to be at the service of the person,” chimed Lucie. Given this line of thought, “the ideas and philosophy behind the Bauhaus movement became relevant references for us,” she said. Resort was about harmonizing artistic gestures of decoration with the clarity of design and purpose they’ve brought to Jil Sander. Each piece was given an individual character, in a sort of syncopated yet quite cohesive narrative. What tied the eclectic offering together was a sense of soft playfulness, smoothing the edges of sculptural silhouettes inspired by the graphic lines of Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadic Ballet costumes. Undulating ruffles, fringed tassels, feathers, studwork, and statement jewelry gave grace to neat, elegant shapes. A dramatic sleeveless black-top-and-round-skirt ensemble in guipure lace, a chic strapless trapeze dress in off-white silk gazar, and a sleek pantsuit with a detachable round capelet also in silk gazar – one of the collection’s main fabrics, “as it holds the shape beautifully” – all looked like they came out of a couture atelier. Lucie’s work at Dior as co–creative director after Raf Simons’s departure in 2015 seemed to gently resurface. “There are elements of couture,” she said, “but I like to keep them light and playful, with a more casual, lighthearted attitude.” The Meiers’ flair for the artisanal, which they integrate into their equal fondness for rigor, was in evidence in a deep-dyed multicolored summer dress with brushstrokes across the bodice. It signaled a more lively use of color and patterns elsewhere, as in a slim leather overcoat printed with a figurative motif of dancing women, painted by an illustrator friend. “It’s stark but jovial,” joked Luke. It was a rather accurate summing up of the collection’s mood – the joviality certainly induced also by the recent arrival in the Meier family of little Ella Rose, who made a sleepy cameo appearance at the end of the Zoom call.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – An Innocence. Prada SS22

For the first time, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons let some warmth and a sense of spontainety to their creative dialogue. The Prada man for spring-summer 2022 appears to be a slightly naive beach-boy, who wears his yellow windcheater (nothing underneath) and matching bucket-hat all day long. Which I instantly love, of course. As co-creative director Miuccia observed in a quote released shortly before the collection video: “A sense of the utopian, the ideal, of hope, positivity. To expose yourself to nature, to go to the beach – it’s freedom. It is utopian. That is really a primary need – an intellectual need, too.” This translated into a skin-heavy rendering of a reemergence that was tantamount to a rebirth. The film opened with the models negotiating a “meandering red tunnel”, ready for the world ahead, but not yet in it. Very directly we were presented with some of the key motifs of what looked like a commercially strong Prada suite: bucket hats with almond-shaped brims at the back (a bit British policeman’s helmet) with triangular logo pockets, and some with the awesome functionality of slits at the front to allow sunglasses to be slipped in them. Romper suits with turned-up short hems were presented in corporate-worker charcoal cotton or sailor-boy white, the latter printed with tattoo-ish nautical motifs including octopi, voluptuous mermaid/sirens, anchors and anchor fish. Around two minutes into the film, Prada’s boys finally hit the beach. The scenes were filmed at the south-eastern point of Sardinia, on the coast of Capo Carbonara, an area where the house is funding the reforestation of marine ecosystems. By coincidence, it is also where I’m booked to spend my summer holiday. It was in this setting that the presentation changed from formulaic runway walk into something more apparently spontaneous and free, in order to evoke an essence described by Raf Simons in his pre-show quote portfolio: “The primary feeling is one of joy. It’s almost like that memory of a child, the joy of a child going to the beach. The simplest and most honest of pleasures. In all its simpleness, it’s also something very meaningful and timeless.” Beach-ready were the floral-shorn terry hoodies, the skorts of course, the beautiful bucket bags in cracked leather and rowing stripe cotton drill, and those awesome hats. Away from the water, highlights included a biker jacket in yolk-yellow or show-set-red which felt like an unusual template here; double-waisted pants made to be worn loosely and tantalisingly adrift at the front; plenty of tailoring with (again) rolled up sleeves; and multiple full-look-izations of the skorts via teaming them with matching tank-tops. These looks seemed like summer iterations of the last-show long johns. “This collection and this show is very much about capturing that, the joy of the everyday. The notion that living your life can be a euphoric experience. Much joy can come out of something so simple: when times are complicated, we are searching for simple, direct joys. An innocence“, concluded Prada.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.