Delightful. Magda Butrym AW20

Whether it’s one of her statement cocktail mini-dresses or a pair of zebra-print boots, Magda Butrym’s pieces carry an undeniably cool attitude that is a mixture of the 80s and 90s chic. What makes me even more excited about her pieces is that they’re beautifully crafted in Poland, embracing the nearly forgotten, local craft experience. With every season, Magda’s work becomes more and more signature and distinct to her style. And she also expands her line-ups. For autumn-winter 2020, the Polish designer offers the complete wardrobe, from boxy overcoats to tiny corset tops trimmed in crystals. The black, leather coat with shearling collar is a dream, just like the floral dresses made from glorious, meaty velvet or the incredible sequinned garments (those are just some of the details I had a chance to experience at her showroom in Paris). Butrym’s clients – and that fan-base steadily grows – will be pleased to see that the label introduces sunglasses this season, made in collaboration with Linda Farrow. Delightful.
Collages and showroom photos by Edward Kanarecki, look-book photos by Sonia Szóstak.

The 90s Chic. Commission AW20

Commission is a New York-based label co-founded by Huy Luong, Dylan Cao and Jin Kay. Since their debut, the designers are set out to redefine their Asian heritage using Western style codes. Their fourth season continues to be a modern reinterpretation of what their mothers wore to work at the end of 20th century, this time however the style is more refined and after-dark chic. Business-ready tailoring, leather pencil skirts, turtleneck dresses and soft retro prints – the Commission look is taken out straight from 1990’s Vogue Italia. As Cao told Paper, “we’re first-generation immigrants to the US. So around the time that we started there was this conversation we wanted to have, about Asian, especially East Asian, culture and representation in the visual world, and especially in the fashion industry. And for a long time we found it really limiting, and really literal.” When looking at family photos, all three designers realized that their mothers styled themselves in a similar manner to go to work, dressing with the same “visual code,” as Cao put it. “The ’80s and ’90s, that’s sort of a period when not a lot of people talk about Asia, because there’s less to romanticize” he continued. “By then there were a lot of Western influences in the way people dressed in Asia. Growing up we’d see our parents go to work and tweak the Western-style codes in their own way. And just looking at our moms and the way they dressed – the big suits, the shoulder pads, the pants – but adding their own personal flares to the way they styled the clothes, that’s what kind of connected us.” If you still haven’t done that, make sure to follow Commission’s steps, as the brand is getting better and better with every season!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

New Heritage. Chopova Lowena AW20

I bet you’ve seen the unmistakable, Chopova Lowena skirt – multiple-pleated patchworks, suspended by mountaineering carabiners from chunky leather belts – on the street style arena. They are so distinct in their look you that just can’t miss them in the crowd. Emma Chopova and Laura Lowena‘s signature, made out of traditional fabrics from Bulgaria – and produced there – was the start of their label’s story. In a short space of time they’ve developed a cult following for their upcycled collection: colorfully cool, full-skirted dresses with big puffed sleeves, layerings of tartans and ’70s prints. Also, their way of doing things is so appealing. “It’s important for us not to make clothes for the sake of it, but to make things which are part of our heritage, and are helping people,” they say. Chopova’s light bulb moment was realizing that her home country is full of under-recognized cultural resources – both in terms of rich fabrics and skilled female sewers. “After communism in Bulgaria, it was all about adopting a Western lifestyle,” she says. “So all the beautiful traditional clothes which had been made as dowries for brides, which people kept in trunks for generations – they didn’t find them precious anymore, and were throwing them out.” The designers began retrieving them, along with 1970s mass-produced flower-print and check taffeta deadstock, then made a network of Bulgarian women seamstresses to make their collections. “It’s built up by one friend knowing another – someone knew a granny who loves embroidery, the old technique they used for aprons. So now it’s great that everything’s being made by these women who really know their skill.” Thanks to another friendship-group link, Chopova Lowena has hit on original way of making jeans this season, printed with beautifully faded marbled patterns, inset with florals. “It’s made by women in their houses in Bursa in Turkey,“ Chopova told Vogue. “We discovered it through one of the Bulgarian women we work with, who goes there. It’s a-300-year-old technique which is used for making Turkish tiles; but now we’ve transferred it to fabric,” she continues. Every piece is unique. In times when sustainability must be the keyword for every brand out there, this ethical way of working comes naturally for these two designers. “We think it’s a luxury to be able to have something handcrafted, and to know where it comes from,” Chopova says. “When we were starting, with all these old materials and telling buyers that, no, everything we make can’t be the same – we never even guessed that it would be welcomed.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Good Times Will Come. Rosie Assoulin AW20

The spread of coronavirus affected everyone in the fashion industry this season, from Milan to Paris. In the first days of March, Rosie Assoulin planned to present her autumn-winter 2020 collection in Paris. I was so happy: we would finally meet in person after years of our Instagram chats. In the end, the event didn’t take place and the designer stayed in New York for safety reasons (which was a right thing to do). When the look-book went live on-line, I was even sadder we all didn’t get a chance to see the clothes in real life, because this collection is GORGEOUS. It’s probably my favourite line-up coming from Rosie. The collection consists of three stories, “almost like capsule collections,” the designer told Vogue, with each speaking to a different theme. The first story emphasized knitwear and outerwear. Her new season hit, “Thousand-In-One-Ways” wool sweater, is a highlight – you can wear it multiple ways, sometimes revealingly, sometimes concealingly. Jumbo plaids, blanket shapes, and heavy wools were cut into fitted coats that blurred the line between jacket and dress. The next story was florals – literally. The designer used silk-petal daisies with velvet buttons to turn the skirt of a lemon dress into a 3D garden. Same happened to a going-out bra and one of the white shirts. The last part was Assoulin’s all-time signature: eveningwear. Couture-ish volumes in exuberant colours and rich satins were contrasted with simpler, yet equally convincing pieces like the white column dress with matching flowers on the straps or a parachute mini-dress in lemon-zest-yellow. Good times will come. Celebrate them in one of those beauties.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

A Fresh Take On The Parisian. Patou AW20

Finally, there’s someone in Paris with a fresh take on the Parisian. It’s easy to imagine Guillaume Henry‘s Patou as a bit of a friendly girl’s club now. It has fun-silly signatures like sailor caps topped with pom-poms and ’80s pumps with rabbit-ear bows on the toes. But there’s nothing gimmicky about it. It’s a brand Henry wants people to rely on, for a great peacoat, a striped marinere sweater – and for really useful dresses. The point for Henry is that this is a brand that has been reimagined as relatable, very French – “Well, I am French!” – not insanely priced, and also set up to be as transparent and mindful about sourcing as it can be as it goes along. For instance, the wool and taffeta is upcycled, cotton is organic, and the company takes care to explain certifications and its supply chain to customers. Now a bit about the pleasing autumn-winter 2020 offering, which is all about comfortable, yet chic daywear (and eveningwear). The designer explained how Jean Patou had set up his company a century ago, with his new menthality for a French brand at the time. “He had a bar in his store so people could relax and have a drink, and his in-house shows would turn into parties after. And he was one of the first to design for the weekend, when everyone started going to Deauville and Biarritz and all that.” This sort of laid-back mood is perceivable in the collection and its fun styling. The JP logo, with its Art Deco 1920s feel is embroidered or knitted into sweaters. And then, of course, there’s the Jean Patou of the 1980s. “Christian Lacroix was here! And Karl Lagerfeld too. It was his first job!” Henry’s taffeta puffball skirts and Provençal lace blouses nod to Lacroix’s period, which is a witty thing to do.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.