Fabulously Eccentric. Loewe AW21

Last season, Jonathan Anderson went for a small collection of ‘un-commercial’, couture-esque dresses and full skirts. For autumn-winter 2021, his Loewe has more of the ‘ready-to-wear’ aspect, yet it still has that signature, fabulously-eccentric-lady style. It’s all about bold colours and mood-changing zigzaggy prints here; the curiosity of avant-garde shapes; perfectly placed, succulently colorful accessories; and what Danielle Steel is feeling about fashion. Say what? Go to Loewe’s website, and there, to be sure, you’ll hear the world’s best-selling novelist in a podcast with Anderson. This is “the ‘why not?’ era,” she remarks. “I’m much more into fun things now…. I like silly stuff. I guess I get more eccentric as I get older…. Life is serious enough!” The collaboration with Steel came about through Anderson’s connection with her daughter Vanessa Traina. In a continuation of his printed-matter lockdown show alternatives, he came up with a Loewe newspaper, within which is a trail of the first chapter of Steel’s new novel, The Affair. Neatly enough, it’s a tale about a New York fashion editor in chief. The paper, with all the pictures of the Loewe collection, is “being distributed to a million readers” including readers of The New York Times, Le Monde, and Le Figaro. In other words, it’s time to embrace the fun and euphoria of fashion again – or at least to be able to imagine ourselves into the time when we can. “As much as people always see the cynical in luxury fashion, there’s something in it that releases endorphins that make you feel good,” Anderson said in a Zoom call with Vogue. For the shoot, he rolled out the yellow carpet in Paris at the Le Train Bleu restaurant, his own office at Loewe, and a private members’ club off the Champs-Élysées. Elaborate settings for Anderson’s skilled composition of bold silhouettes, his subtly wearable pieces and a gamut of bags and shoes that deliver quirk to the adventurous and classicism to the conservative. “I don’t see this as a collection about fantasy. I think it’s about this idea of projecting what a new reality will hopefully be,” he said. “I think fashion is going to be important in the next while, in making people gain the confidence of going back out and dressing up again. The whole point of this collection is: believe it, and it will happen.”

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Night-Time Gloss. Coperni AW21

Coperni boys are sure we will again have parties (at some point in time). Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant decided to do a physical show, so they came up with a sociall-distanced idea of a drive-in, and selected the Accor Arena, a giant stadium on the outskirts of town  as a venue. This season showed that Coperni is taking a new (and less uptight) direction. Meyer and Vaillant have made a signature of an efficient, athleticized minimalism, and for autumn-winter 2021 they wanted to give their clothes a night-time gloss. Adut Akech opened the show in an off-the-shoulder A-line minidress, and Mica Argañaraz closed it in a see-through painted lace shift. There was also a robe coat in faux fur (worn by Jill Kortleve), very Madonna in her ‘Music’ video. Some of the brand’s most compelling thinking happens on the accessories front, a growing part of the brand. A new bag in apple leather unzips completely flat, while their signature handbag comes in shiny rhinestones. The Coperni girl (and guy) long for a crowdy, chic dancefloor.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Alien Couture. Rick Owens AW21

Rick Owens presented another incredible, made-in-lockdown collection, livestreamed straight from Venice Lido (the place where most of his brand’s goods are produced). “Doing these shows without an audience is becoming a kind of private ceremony because we’re sort of doing it for ourselves,” he told Vogue. “There’s a sweetness to it.” The runway was an actual concrete pier, and the background – a breezy, cold sea. The models looked like a troop of Giacometti sculptures, or aliens whose spaceship wrecked in the fog. The collection synthesized comfortwear of the pandemic – bodysuits, knits, the ubiquitous puffer – with the grandeur of haute couture. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more glamorous gown this season than this show’s closing look, a fully sequined ivory hourglass stunner with a sculptural, asymmetric neckline and a single sleeve that was worn with a black gauntlet and matching mask. To be honest, nobody today does draping as well as Owens. Equally fantastic were the couture-ish things he did with puffer capes and coats with his now-signature power shoulders. The use of sequins was an interesting take on femininity: the result was a “garment”, which appeared to be over-the-shoulder thongs worn with cashmere bodysuits. On the subject of underthings, the pentagram briefs from the January men’s show reappeared here wrapped around evening clutches, the implication being that these alien females had handled the “unhinged male aggression” that those briefs signified. Here’s what Owens had to say about it: “During times of strife, you gotta step up.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

A Fabulous Garden. Patou AW21

Guillaume Henry‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection for Patou gives me life! It’s just so, so, so fabulous. The line-up is like a voluptuous, opulent garden filled with the most beautiful flowers. It’s this kind of boldness we need especially today, even in our lockdown lives. Turquoise, orange, lilac, pink, red, yellow; vast volumes here, gigantic collars there; floral prints on ’70s-flavored tailoring. Everything had grown from the signatures that Henry has planted over the last several seasons at Patou – think French regional costume, the Provençal embroidery, the Parisian-girl suiting, the playful, jaunty accessories. Last summer’s drop of mini-florals just gave rise to an even more exaggerated blooming of silhouettes this season. Yet, as Henry demonstrated by smoothing down what appeared to be a pair of the widest leg’o’mutton sleeves ever suggested, the shape of fabric can be tweaked by the wearer just as she pleases. And what’s most exciting is that these fantastic clothes have a sustainable background behind them – something Henry has gradually implemented into the brand since his debut. “We have have reached 70% organic or recycled this season,” said Henry. “And the prices are really on-point. We’ve worked on that a lot.” A large part of his talent is considering how to make haute-looking fashion work for lots of girls with differing tastes, lives and body-types. “Patou was always about generous couture volumes. When we’re normally talking about comfort, it’s yoga pants and cocooning things. I’m so not into sportswear. So why don’t we make it comfy, with ease – and all about Patou?”He found more Patou-ness in the archives too. “We discovered these naïve, colorful, sort of flower-power prints which were made by Michel Goma in the ’70s,” he said. “In that period flowers meant freedom, too. I met him the other week – he’s 91, and he showed me everything he did back in the day. It was so full of joy.” Each look was really a pile-up of elements – turtlenecks, hand-crocheted folkloric vests, smart tailoring, detachable collars – ready to be dismantled by the customer. “It depends on the woman you are – more flamboyant or more modest, you can make it sexy, you can make it shy,” said Henry. All of it rooted in authentic, refreshed references, but also grounded in Henry’s energetic, practical empathy for what the women who surround him will wear.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Radical Simplicity. Courrèges AW21

Courrèges isn’t a easy brand to revive. After all the reboots it went through in the last couple of years, the legendary 1960s Spage Age maison just didn’t resonate. Nicolas Di Felice is its new hope. The 37-year-old Belgian is a graduate of La Cambre in Brussels, and he’s worked in Paris for a dozen years with Nicolas Ghesquière at both Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton, and Raf Simons at Christian Dior. A behind-the-scenes guy until now, Di Felice has a knack for research and a command of technique, two things necessary to take charge of a heritage brand whose hallmark, as he describes it, is “radical simplicity.” He says he arrived at Courrèges with armfuls of files and started fittings on day one. And that’s quite visible. There are no ridiculous sci-fi gimmicks here, and finally the entire collection doesn’t solely orbit around the signature Courrèges vinyl jacket. Some Courrèges classics are present, but what’s most important is that they look relevant. A white trapeze dress is modeled on the brand’s original, but with a stretch jersey bodice. Vinyl has been redesigned to be more eco-friendly with bio-based polyurethane and a certified organic cotton base; the high-collared coat he used it for has a powerful, streamlined fit. Summing up, Andre Courrèges’s futurism has been filtered through Di Felice’s child-of-the-’90s eyes. I would say it’s a relatively quiet, but confident debut. Di Felice’s Courrèges might find its client in 2021.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.