Simplicity. Bottega Veneta Resort 2023

Bottega Veneta‘s resort 2023 collection feels like a toned-down transition point between Matthieu Blazy‘s debut collection and the sophomore outing we’ve seen last September. The designer approached the inter-season offering in a practical way. “We wondered, what do we want to wear ourselves? How can we make clothes that are cool and at the same time the ultimate luxury? It’s no big concept,” he continued. “It was really the idea of making beautiful clothes that we want to wear. At the end it’s about looking cool and looking beautiful.” In his first two seasons as the creative director at Bottega Veneta, Blazy has managed the elusive trick of producing desire, not by over-designing or over-complicating, as often happens in high fashion, but by believing in simplicity, which is resort’s biggest credo. Silhouette is one of Blazy’s key preoccupations. The jacket shoulder proportions of a button-down in pinstriped cool wool, and the mid-century shape of a skirt structured to blossom at the hips, are the highlights. His interest in unexpected forms extends to handbags. The helmet-shaped satchel is inspired by the headgear of Milan’s scooter commuters and is another fun result of the team’s elevation of the everyday. “It was quite a playful exercise,” he said of the work the team did this season. “It felt quite free.” At the same time, Blazy is slowly, steadily crafting his Bottega Veneta language. The denim – Bottega’s latest hit – comes in leather (yes, that mind-blowing, denim-looking-trompe-l’oeil leather) and in actual leather. The brass finish hardware of the Sardine bag has been incorporated as a jewelry detail on a little black dress, and the metal studs that gave movement to Fortuny pleat skirts for fall appear as trim on a bias silk cocktail dress.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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The Hollywood Glow. Rodarte SS23

For Rodarte‘s spring-summer 2023 collection, Kate and Laura Mulleavy harnessed the theatricality and glow of live performances into a lineup of dresses and sets that balance fluid shapes with busy prints and intricate, rich textures. Alongside rainbows of psychedelic swirls – which take shape across bias-cut chiffon slips – and velvet burnout silhouettes, you will find a range of high-shine threads and embellishments with a light-refracting quality that adds striking dimension. “We were really wanting to feel something that was really vibrant and alive and about lighting and connectivity,” said Laura. A sense of ease and lightness was achieved on an entirely hand knit purple gown with long sleeves and a contrasting orange trim on the hem and cuffs. The yarn was made from a material “that almost looks like saran wrap,” Kate concluded. “No one believes it will be, and that’s what’s so cool about it. It’s very shiny.” They used the same fabric to create little skirt suits worn with matching cropped tops; one in shades of green, and another in orange and pink. The concept of light – both in terms of weight and illumination – played an important role in the collection. Metallic details abounded in fabric construction and embellishments, bringing into play the light that surrounds the garment as an added accessory. “All of the materials are in some way reflective of light. Even the lace has a sheen on it,” one of the Mulleavy sisters said. “So what’s interesting is that you see them differently depending on the angle at which you are looking at them.” This were manifested in straightforward ways, as in some of the looks in the second half of the collection: holographic sequins on an architecturally draped asymmetric gown; silver sequins on a spaghetti strap tunic and flared trousers; silver fringe on a Nick Cave-esque (the fine artist, not the musician) long sleeve cropped top and matching trousers; and gowns with mosaics made from small mirror shards. “We’re starting to see the red carpets open back up again,” said Laura. “I feel like there’s no version of us as designers at Rodarte if there never was a red carpet. We’re in Los Angeles, and it’s one of the thrilling aspects of designing eveningwear. If you design a gown, you want to see it out there, that’s the beauty of it.” But the Mulleavys know that the magic of their clothes is that they can impart that same feeling to anyone that wears them, no matter the place.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Princess-Core. Renaissance Renaissance SS23

I’m far more obsessed with Renaissance Renaissance‘s beautiful collection than with most of the spring-summer 2023 offerings coming from big names. Picture this: a rebellious princess running away from her palace by the sea. She’s traversing the desert at dusk, desperately seeking a city where she’ll meet artists, writers, poets – free spirits who will release her own and unfetter her from the rigidity of tradition. This is the story Lebanese designer Cynthia Merhej conceived of while working on her delightful spring collection. This princess is detached from European traditions – rather, she comes from Tunisia or Morocco, she’s running away to a place like Cairo, and her path is guided not by European medieval signage, but by Jinns and Arab symbols (as illustrated by a print, shown in look 12, created by a friend of the designer’s and inspired by the mythology of the Arab desert). “I wanted to go back to the root of the brand, back to my narrative roots as a storyteller. I always found it easier to express very complicated ideas in a simplified way, a simple story,” Merhej said. The complicated idea du jour? “The brand is about this tension between tradition and wanting to be a free spirit,” Merhej added, referring to her mother and herself as an example of this push and pull, but noting this dichotomy can also exist within one person.

The designer’s lineup for spring includes a recently launched category called Atelier, under which she’ll produce one-of-a-kind pieces. Each garment is made in Beirut in her atelier using couture techniques. Merhej said that now that she’s established the commercial portion of her business, she wants to make sure she continues to push herself creatively, while at the same time finding ways of nurturing the decimated fashion industry in Beirut, currently in a state of rebuilding. The pieces are also sustainable in that they’re made from deadstock materials. The first of these pieces opens the lookbook: a naturally dyed cropped cardigan knitted in a large gauge with mohair and tulle yarn by Lindsey Smith, a collaborator. “The idea was to create these kinds of knits that look like they’re degrading, the leftovers of her dress that was falling apart,” Merhej said in reference to her princess and her arduous journey. Another piece is made by hand layering pieces of lace her mother has been collecting for 25 years. The most striking item in the collection is a reversible coat as seen in looks 3, 7, and 9. One face is taffeta, and the other is covered in gathered tulle. The coats underwent a few experiments like tea dyeing or sun drying, all to give them the texture and softness of a lived-in piece. Elsewhere, in the ready-to-wear, Merhej explores her tulle fabrications, most notably on a skirt made of cotton and covered in tulle, which she also designed attached to a ribbed knit top as a dress. Other highlights include ankle-length linen skirts, a pleated button-down shirt fitted at the waist (a common focal point in Merhej’s work), and a rounded kimono-sleeve tailored jacket, which is returning from last season given its success. Again, this is a truly beautiful collection, with subtle echoes of 1990s Comme Des Garçons and Romeo Gigli.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Reference Point. Jan Chodorowicz SS23

When I was covering Jan Chodorowicz‘s debut collection, “SOCIALI/S/TE”, I was sure this young creative is about to lead a new wave of Polish designers emerging in the fashion industry. Spring-summer 2023 is his second collection, and it was presented to buyers and editors during Paris Fashion Week in the beginning of October. The latest offering explores further the codes of work-wear, a theme which the designer has been exploring since his MA at Central Saint Martins. According to Chodorowicz, the process of re-contextualization of work-wear, its details, materials and functions, lead to their adaptation for the wardrobe of a contemporary woman. As he told Vogue Poland, “so far, my work has been characterized by deep research. This time I worked differently, inspired by the clothes, the design process itself.” That especially shows in the masterful tailoring behind the new season trench coats and cargo pants (in the designer’s signature color of deep blue). The white tank-top, a genderless building-block of any utilitarian-wardrobe, is having a moment too in the collection. Still, the subtle, cultural references are present, and the designer really knows how to interweave them into his garments without going too literal. The unexpected pop of silver, in form of a shirt-and-pants set, is the result of profound inspiration with the film “Volcano of Love” (directed by Sara Dosa), which tells the story of a 1960s couple who traveled the world and identified volcanoes. To get close to the craters, they wore silver-coated suits. “For them it was work attire,” Jan sums up. The collection affiliates with the idea of a work-uniform of artists, especially of such sculpture mavericks as Alina Szapocznikow and Barbara Hepworth. According to the designer, the uniform you wear while creating something doesn’t necessarily have to mean one, monotonous look. That’s why his spring-summer 2023 is a proposal of clothes you can easily mix-and-match during that absorbing and exciting process of creative pursuit.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Our Youth. ERL SS23

Eli Russell Linnetz is more than a designer – he’s a a storyteller. For his ERL collections he creates mini-narratives. This season’s stars an architect looking back on his youth. In the look book pictures, which Linnetz casts and shoots himself, there’s a dad and three boys – “mom’s left and it’s just the guys”- surfer and skater kids from the neighborhood, and a love interest. They wear a mix of Venice-Beach-cool essentials like tie-dye tees, peasant dresses, grungy flannels, and corduroy flares airbrushed at the hems with beach scenes. Then there are the ERL staples—waffle-weave long johns, star-dyed denim, striped mohair sweaters, tube socks. The comic strip pants and matching bedspread that open this slideshow will be as collectible as the vintage 1950s comic book he lifted them from. A collage print of surfers at sunset turns an otherwise basic slip dress into an object of interest. And the clash-up of neon camouflage puffers, shirts, and skate pants is hard to resist. There’s a lot of potential for ERL and Linnetz, a creative who has his feet planted both in Hollywood and the fashion business. His collaboration with Dior’s Kim Jones last spring established his name in the industry even further. Linnetz’s next step? Directing his first feature-length film. When he gets around to making that project, he’ll naturally be designing its costumes too. Expect the unexpected.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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