Fetish Couture & Big Dreams. Richard Quinn AW21

After a two season hiatus, Richard Quinn came back yesterday, and pulled off a mega-production collection, with a sort of badass Cruella energy. The autumn-winter 2021 line-up was released through a 25 minute long video fairy-tale, “an ode to Hollywood Technicolour”, full of haute fetish couture. “It’s bigger, a lot bigger than anything we’ve done before. I wanted to do something that was really creative, that was not a catwalk show, the usual“, the designer explained in the press notes. Latex gimp-suited cats and dogs, ballerinas and ballgowns, a story that spiralled from a red-light, nightlife London Soho-on-steroids scene through manic Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella-ish twists and turns – it had it all. All it took was a hundred people on a movie set – sets which were entirely printed by Quinn, including a blue-and-white flower-printed grand piano and three London black cabs printed with psychedelic ’70s daisies. The Lilies Cole and McMenamy and U.K. Drag Race’s favorite star Bimini Bon-Boulash made cameo appearances. “Because I wanted it to be a showcase of what we can do in London, even in a pandemic,” he said. The clothes? Well, the clothes appeared to be costumes, really, all the recognizable, blown-up Richard Quinn vintage haute couture pastiche shapes “with everything crafted to within an inch of its life,” as he put it. There were embroideries laden with pearls, bugle beads, sequins, and gemstones. A mini bride’s dress and matching groom’s bell-bottomed suit were sewn with gold crucifixes, padded love hearts, and tiny turtledoves. And on top of all that, he showed acres of printed pouf dresses, a whole wedding-turned-disco party packed with guys dancing in flowery suits among ball-gowned women. Quinn dreams big.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Total Magic. Rodarte AW21

The autumn-winter 2021 collection by Rodarte, with a look-book photographed on a breezy beach, has a magical, witchy aura about it with a 1990s style twist. And it also feautures Alicia Silverstone, the actress behind Cher Horowitz’s wholesome persona, sun-kissed and smiling, alongside Aurora James, Heather Kemesky, and other models. The campy, kitschy teen world of Amy Heckerling’s 1995 classic might seem miles away from the broody gothicism often associated with Rodarte, but Kate and Laura Mulleavy grew up on Clueless. They saw it in theaters in their native California – and then rented it “hundreds” of times from their local video store. However, he plaid suits and slip dresses Cher wears in the film aren’t recut one-to-one in the Mulleavys’ interpretation. Theirs has always been a more abstract aesthetic. This season, they started with a bias-cut halter midi-dress in cartoon hibiscus prints or vixen sequins held up with a ribbon bow at the neck. They learned last season that waft-y, comfortable dresses do well and extrapolated on them with V-neck dresses and flutter-sleeve maxis in a mix of vintage-store pastel florals and grungy black. For going out, they built up their sequined offering, and for staying in they translated their floral prints into stretch dresses, tops, and pants. There’s also a big varsity jacket, an evolution of their popular souvenir style, worn by models of all genders. One of the crucial lessons of Clueless is that the right outfit can change your stature, your mood, even your life. The Mulleavys understand this, and they imbue that cinematic sense of dressing up for who you aspire to be into their collections. They’re famous for their extraordinary red carpet dresses, but the Mulleavys do make clothing for people’s actual, beautiful, and mundane lives. “We are thinking about how people want to wear things,” Laura says. It’s definitely good to see the designers come back with a optymistic collection after the tumultuous year of lockdowns and crisis.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look – JW Anderson AW21

Flowing, ethereal, somewhat ephemeral… this elegant jumpsuit-dress from JW Anderson‘s autumn-winter 2021 line-up (lensed by Juergen Teller) is so dreamy. Just like the weaved bag worn with it. A beatiful dialogue between silhouettes and textures. Take a look back at the phenomenal collection here!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Wasteless Fashion Is Not A Myth. Duran Lantink AW21

They say that fashion will never be 100% sustainable. A brand can do its best to keep things eco-friendly, but in the end, clothes are still being produced. But Duran Lantink‘s method proves the industry that there’s a revolutionary (and very witty) way of making fashion as wasteless as possible. His upcycling methods – repurposing unsold designer-label clothes in his pioneering, cheeky way – date back to 2013, but only now seem to fully resonate with a wider audience. Autumn-winter 2021 season is the designer’s first (of course digital) fashion show collection. “Basically, during lockdown, I had time to work with my assistant, Thibault, on all the materials I had left over from collaborations with stores and brands, and to come up with this, our first runway collection.” Thibault is in the show, wearing, in one of his exits, a swishing lemon yellow dress that is reconstructed from another dress which had been left over from Lantink’s collaboration with Ellery last year. The point was to give him free rein to recycle and give new life to their unsold inventory. Lantink pointed out to Vogue how he’s unpicked, restyled, and refashioned multiple piles of clothes lying around his studio which “used to be” garments by Balmain, Balenciaga, Prada, Proenza Schouler, Vetements, Marine Serre, and many more. “In the beginning, we started with stores to see how we could work with their deadstock to see how we could stop their clothes going into landfill. And that was the beginning of thinking how we could create a completely new form of business.” The collection is like an aethetical 2000s-style remix of sexy revealing, sparkle and sharp minimalism. There’s a zigzaggy sparkly dress – one breast out – remade from something unsold from Balmain, and naked illusion half-dresses sewn onto stretchy body pieces. A flash of a diamanté thong (made from recycled materials) is homage to Tom Ford’s Gucci 1997 moment, but with a Duran Lantink logo planted in the crucial place. Yet Lantink has also now come up with an ingenious plan for extending the buzzy fashion “moment” so that it can morph into potentially infinite new shapes for his followers. He announced the launch of a service on his new direct-to-wearer website. “When you’re fed up with something, you can click on two tabs. One, where you can resell. On the other, we will work with you to remake what you have to become whatever you like. So a coat can become a dress. A dress can become a shirt. A shirt can be trousers. Whatever you want!” People who are up for engaging with Lantink’s process are destined to be the happy recipients of fully documented online records of where their clothes originated, and how they’ve been altered over time: a personalized archive. That redefinition of being able to love and re-love clothes in a never-ending cycle restyled by a designer is something truly, truly innovative.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Très Cool. Lacoste AW21

Louise Trotter‘s sustainable-meets-chic-meets-smart vision of Lacoste keeps on delivering with every season. Lacoste has the benefit of being a brand at the nexus of athleisure and luxury, offering pieces that are at once trop sportif and trop française. That’s a clutch position for a fashion house in these times. It also has the benefit of the well-dressed Trotter at its helm. She is the woman in a slouchy polo, mannish trousers, white sneakers, and aviator glasses that makes you pinch yourself in a jealous rage when you pass her on the street or are seated next to her at a dinner. Someone who is calmly unstudied, comfortable, and totally not try-hard. Suffice to say, Trotter has long understood the benefits of generous, easy-to-wear clothing with arty touches in the form of a funny, albeit small, graphic or the juxtaposition of sorbet colors. So when it came time to design Lacoste’s second collection of the lockdowns, she knew exactly what to do: “Capture the active lifestyle that we share today and that blurs between home life, work, and play.” The backbone of Trotter’s autumn-winter 2021 offering is Lacoste’s famous piqué cotton, cut into lively hued polos, but also groovy tracksuits and cardigans. Some are intarsia’d with crocodile claws and flaming tennis balls – sort of silly patterns Trotter found in the brand’s archive. They are all, she notes, unisex – as is almost everything else in the collection. If the varsity jackets and cool puffers read a little on-the-nose in terms of branding, Trotter’s continuation of spring 2021’s upcycled and collaged windbreakers, trousers, and coats offer a more cerebral take. The Lacoste archive is rich with both heritage inspirations and unused or vintage materials; Trotter has married them nicely in these upcycled pieces. They will pair well with the collection’s piqué tracksuits and cartoon colored pool slides. That’s exactly how Trotter would wear them. In a time when everyone is questioning how to dress, a sure-footed and stylish creative director with a singular vision is a good guide.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.