In his second menswear collection, Erdem Moralioglu goes for streetwear – something you never see in his often dramatic women’s offering. “Utilitarian romanticism” is how the London-based designer summed up his newest creative venture. He has a point: in a world where people wear couture-house joggers to dinner, and even Moralioglu surrenders to sporty dress codes, streetwear is really just daywear. “It’s a boiled fleece hoodie with a tailored, nipped jogger,” he said of the collection’s most informal look, describing those garments exactly like he would his ladylike womenswear. But unlike that womenswear Erdem’s men’s world has a relaxed, almost light-hearted quality about it. The designer has been living in the spring men’s collection since he received the first pieces, and, as he confirmed, “it’s very personal.” While the first collection only started to arrive in stores in November, his recipe of ravishingly-colored knits, corduroy, and printed denim has seen great response from the yet-to-be-defined Erdem men’s customer, and has gone down well with his trusty female clientele, too. This season, he took inspiration from the work of two women, who may as well have played muses to one of his women’s collections: Madame d’Ora, a Viennese portrait photographer and contemporary of Picasso, and Madame Yevonde, a portrait and still-life photographer who worked in London around the interwar era. Together, their subjects, grading techniques, and the latter’s use of color inspired a 1930s-driven collection, which borrowed from the women’s wardrobe of the time, and fused those references in Moralioglu’s contemporary “utilitarian romanticism.” What emerged through Moralioglu’s second menswear proposal was a men’s wardrobe of conventional contradictions: feminine vs. masculine, formal vs. informal, Old World vs. new world. Those dichotomies are hardly new territory in menswear, but through the lens of Erdem – with all its history and romanticism – this menswear brand already feels unique and familiar in a way that gives it a character of its own on a very saturated market.
“Euphoric” and “erotic” – this is how one might describe Anthony Vaccarello‘s resort 2022 collection for Saint Laurent. It’s not only because you can imagine nearly every “Euphoria” character (have you seen the first episode of season 2? Mind-blowing!) wearing all the YSL feathers and sexy, body-conscious silhouettes to their quite dramatic parties (actually, Maddy would perfectly pull it off to school). The collection is totally hedonist and free-spirited, both wearable and spotlight-stealing. There’s a terrific, go-with-the-flow vibe going on here, all high-waisted, floor-sweeping flares, flower power sequins, and hippie headbands. There’s also a confident, palpable sense of sexual empowerment, with LBDs and not so little LBDs bearing all manner of cut-outs and cut-aways, breast-veiling, and other forms of transparency. The model casting also has a message – how smart of Vaccarello to showcase much of this on his long-time friend and house icon Anja Rubik, who has become a fearless advocate for women’s sexual and reproductive rights back home in her native Poland. The collection also mirrors how much the identity of the YSL women was forged through menswear. There’s definitely a heady whiff of those androgynous days when Yves Saint Laurent and muse Betty Catroux shared the same plunge-front shirted, narrow-hipped tailored approach to getting dressed. That was back in the late ’60s/early ’70s, an era iconic to YSL, in which gender fluidity was just one way the old order was rightly collapsing from the challenges thrown down by emancipation, counter-culture, and more bohemian ways of living. Vaccarello isn’t the type to talk endlessly about politics in his work, if ever, but politics are there, without a doubt. What he’s offering here is a clear and confident vision of dressing for a world today that’s equally in flux.
There are those collections in fashion history that just get better with time. For a while now, I’m absolutely obsessed with Louis Vuitton‘s autumn-winter 2010 – one of the best collections created by Marc Jacobs for the French maison. “And God Created Woman” announced the program, bringing up thoughts of the era of the young Bardot, of fifties-sixties wasp waists, and circle skirts. At the time, Mad Men was on everyone’s minds and TV screens (those were the pre-Netflix times…), and that same season, Miuccia Prada also went for the retro ultra-femininity. Jacobs’ collection was stark contrast casting-wise (lets not forget 2010 was peak time of the super-skinny-model standard) as the designer called on Laetitia Casta, Bar Refaeli, Catherine McNeil, Karolina Kurkova, and finally Elle Macpherson, all women whose physical attributes have acted as a disqualification for fashion show participation for years. The rehabilitation of the embonpoint was done with refinement. Marc framed it more as a fresh, feminine, ingenue look, with hair scraped back into high, bouncy B.B. ponytails; clean makeup; and square-toed, block-heeled pumps trimmed with flat bows. The show swung along prettily as a fountain sprayed and jolly fifties movie music played in the middle of the tented courtyard, creating that quintessentially Parisian atmosphere, a sense of all being right in the best of all possible cities to be appreciated as a woman. Not only the lady-like silhouette was the main focus – the charming details and trimmings exemplified the LV knack for classy detail, as in fur buttons, collars and glittery heels. I sometimes really miss Marc’s Louis Vuitton…
The celebration of individuality is what drives creatively Luke and Lucie Meier at Jil Sander. “For us it’s really important, the idea of working around the character,” they told Vogue during a preview of the pre-fall 2022 line-up. “The person in its humanity and uniqueness is at the center of our creativity.” What the Meiers have brought to Jil Sander is a progressive yet thoughtful approach, articulated with intelligence in a narrative both consistent and nuanced. Their repertoire is expanding; whimsy and eccentric flair now embellish their disciplined, exacting range. “We’re not considering stereotypes, rather multifaceted attitudes and personalities. Human beings are complex animals,” they said, suggesting that inspiration finds its way through a texture of emotions and connections, leaving excessive analyzing in the background. “We’ve been thinking a lot about our friends, people we know, even ourselves, all the different emotions we’ve been through. So it just felt right to be almost more impulsive, to indulge the spur of the moment, enjoying a certain freshness and lightness.” The collection was bookended by two similar looks, both two-piece propositions – a sharp-cut top/skirt ensemble in ivory double-faced matte viscose knit, compact and sculptural; and a turtleneck/skirt combination in off-white ribbed wool. Beautifully embroidered with sequined crochet intarsia at the collar, on the sides, or at the hem, they draw attention to the decorative as a subtext to Jil Sander’s sartorial clarity. “Both looks have a chandelier kind of shape, they look rather decadent. It’s nice to offer something special, less ordinary.” The offering’s standouts exuded the boldness and confidence of one-of-a-kind pieces. Among the noteworthy examples: an exquisite bias-cut evening dress in soft undyed silk in a pearly shade of ivory, its skirt opening up in a corolla shape garlanded with long silky fringes; a cocooning wrap coat in spongy wool in a delicate hue of eau-de-Nil, jacquarded with a curlicued abstract motif, a bavolet at the back sporting twirled fringes made from the yarn; and a sharp-cut skirt suit in black double-faced wool, embroidered with an inserted guipure piece breaking the severity of the design. And of course, lets not forget about the teddy-bear boots. Those will sell out fast. “It’s about eclectic elegance and strong individuality,” is how the designers summed up this brilliant collection.