It’s A Smash. Lacoste AW19

Lacoste is a tricky brand. Its roots are in tennis, while the green crocodile logo is often perceived as dismissingly as Tommy Hilfiger’s or Calvin Klein’s. But Louise Trotter (former designer at Joseph) made me fall in love with her vision of the brand, completely. Her debut was a smash, so a winner strike according to tennis jargon. Her love for minimalist, clean lines and athleisure are true to her style, so it wasn’t a surprise her aesthetic goes so well with Lacoste’s context. The autumn-winter 2019 show was all about tennis clothes, but transformed into desirable, high fashion. Polo necks in ribbed knit; chunky vests were worn over maxi-lenght, breezy dresses covered with the crocodile print; trackpants came in over-sized, slouchy jersey; zipped sweatshirts were kept in bold colours. The opening looks, featuring the chicest shade of beige, informed Trotter’s stance on her Lacoste: expect elevated daywear with a sporty spin. Big love.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Love’s in the air. Valentino AW19

Pierpaolo Piccioli makes people get emotional (and Celine Dion shed tears of joy) over his couture. Does his ready-to-wear for Valentino spark the same reactions? Pretty much yes. His autumn-winter 2019 collection was an ode to love. A theme that might be so easily clichéd in fashion got beautifully poetic on Piccioli’s runway. “I feel that people are looking for emotion and dreams—but not distant dreams,” he said today before the show. “I want to create a community for Valentino. I mean something different from ‘lifestyle,’ which is about owing objects. It’s about people who share values.” Valentino’s community has many faces, and this season Pierpaolo made them even more vocal. First, the choice of models who walk the Valentino runway as of late utterly cement the normalisation of inclusive casting. You’ve got Adut Akech open the show in a voluminous coat, and Maria Carla Boscono wear a gorgeous black gown. Then, we’ve got artistic individuals that leave their mark on Piccioli’s fashion. Jun Takahashi of Undercover started collaborating with Valentino’s menswear last season, and his contribution goes on here as well. This time the designers morphed together a print of a 19th-century neoclassical sculpture of kissing lovers with an image of roses. It appeared on pretty much everything, and wasn’t necessarily a subtle detail. And then there are the poets. Poetry in fashion always seemed to be a good idea just in case of Ann Demeulemeester and her long-time friend, Patti Smith. In case of Valentino, the concept wasn’t overly intellectual or profound, but digestible for the eye. Picciolli commissioned the Scottish poet and artist Robert Montgomery and the three young writers – Greta Bellamacina, Mustafa The Poet and Yrsa Daley-Ward – to contribute to a slim volume, Valentino on Love, which was left on seats for the audience. An illuminated billboard with lines by Montgomery stood at the end of the runway, reading, “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive.” The words carried on to live in Piccioli’s designs and the lines were printed (or embroidered) inside coats, tulle dresses, inside of bags and boots. In terms of fashion, this was a line-up of incredible matchings. An orange jacket with feathers was worn over a hoodie – refined, yet fresh. There were as many couture-ish silhouettes (like the yellow cape-coat or the finale dresses) as sublime daywear (think soft tailoring, flared mid-lenght skirts and classical little black dresses). Love’s in the air, in every single aspect.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Reality Check. Balenciaga AW19

That’s a fact: Demna Gvasalia delivered the best coats (outerwear, even) of the season. Literally every coat that appeared in Balenciaga’s autumn-winter 2019 made me drool! Those volumes. The designer focused on the streets of Paris and how Parisians really dress (forget the Jeanne Damas and Caroline de Maigret archetype of Parisian chic). He thoroughly investigated outfits people wear in their metro commute, to the parties, on a dog walk, for groceries. And here we are with more than 100 looks, featuring faux-fur, floor-sweeping coats in Cristobal Balenciaga-esque architectural silhouettes to vintage-y leather jackets and quilted belted robes in satin. Tailoring was strong, too, just as the dresses. From the polished, sleek mini-dresses that closed the show to flowing, maxi-gowns (like the one Stella Tennant had on, made from some fancy, metallic fringes), each looked was distinctly Gvasalia – sharp, ironic, delightfully confusing. I really loved this one ‘super-nornal’ outfit that featured a black turtleneck, leather slouchy pants and a pink, polka-dot shopper bag. That’s exactly how editors dress in Paris. Again, this collection was extremely Paris, but not in this fashioned-up manner we often get to see. As the designer said backstage, “It’s real. When I’m on the streets of Paris, that’s what I see.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Gathering of the shadows. Comme Des Garçons AW19

Rei Kawakubo’s autumn-winter 2019 is the second season when the Comme des Garçons designer no longer does abstract bodies. In the collection she entitled as a Gathering of the shadows, you could sense danger: nearly all-black looks, executioner hoods, armor-like shapes, a soundtrack that definitely caused goose-bumps (think heavy, militaristic machinery, helicopters and English Victorian hymn in children voice). Some thought the show was all about defensive aggression and the terror of today’s world. Kawakubo knows what’s going on, with nationalism intensifying across the world. But maybe this wasn’t a line-up that was solely about the occurring circumstances? Rei’s shows are here for your free interpretation. I saw something very sublime about this one. A coat made from slices of leather; a black taffeta dress worn under a shell-like jacket; fishnet body-suits worn under every garment. It was avant-garde, as shocking in 2019 as back in the 80s, when Japanese designers – lead by Kawakubo – arrived to Paris with their Hiroshima chic.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.