Last week, Hedi Slimane has presented his autumn-winter 2022 collection for Celine, which he chose to stage in two historical monuments in Paris, the Hôtel de la Marine and the the Hôtel National des Invalide. Entitled “Dans Paris“, the show was filmed by Slimane, off the usual Paris Fashion Week schedule and starred Kaia Gerber. Looking at the first half of the collection, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Slimane opted to pare down any notion of extravagance – a tricky feat given the opulent settings. Strolling below the golden ceilings came jeans and everyday wardrobe staples like a cream roll-neck jumper, a jersey zip-up and an oversized grey hoodie so large it extended into a dress. As club sounds pulsated louder throughout the show (provided by NYC-based artist Hennessey), as did the clothes, seemingly coming alive with every beat. Suddenly, sharp heels, sparkly party dresses and gold embellishments weaved their way into the line-up of everyday wear. But, like the dark corners of any sexy, exclusive Parisian nightclub, these pieces weren’t thrust in faces, rather intermingled with the simpler pieces. As usual with Slimane’s Celine, it’s not about novelty, but refining the timeless (and quintessentially Parisian) wardrobe.
Thom Browne‘s jaw-dropping autumn-winter 2022 show added up to the pre-Met-Gala, statement-fashion buzz that’s going on all over New York right now. But Browne’s collection had little to do with Gilded Glamour (the theme of today’s gala), and more with another Metropolitan Museum Of Art’s fashion subject from a couple of years ago: Comme Des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo. Of course, Thom’s collections are always extraordinary, but this season, the signature gray wool suits went Comme – meaning conceptual, statuesque, big. And this is a major compliment for any contemporary designer. Giant yarns made up knits, some looks were pleated to resemble a slinky, and one preppy sweater was molded into a literal ball. It was all densely layered and piled up on precarious heels composed of schoolhouse blocks spelling out T-H-O-M-B-R-O-W-N-E. Then came the toys, where you could only giggle at the ballooning proportions of a lobster look and at the mania of Browne’s craft. The loveliest dolls in the dollhouse were a teal diagonally striped prom dress and a similar gown-ish green column layered atop an oversize white button down. It wasn’t messy – Browne’s patterns always meet, his hems are always tailored to immaculate precision – but it looked like it had lived a little. According to the designer, this collection is about New York as “an island of misfit toys” and the way people come to the city “to find themselves and to create themselves,” he said. The line-up was presented as a Ted Talk – cue the pun – led by model Rocky Harwell dressed as a Thom Browne teddy bear to an audience of stuffed teddies in little Thom Browne suits. Well, this is definitely one of my favourite TB collections in a while!
Emilio Pucci is one of these Italian luxury brands that have a rich, idiosyncratic legacy and a full package of well-known style codes, but somehow a number of contemporary designers that took it under their wings in the last couple of years never could put their finger on it. Maybe expect for Peter Dundas, whose ultra-sexy, jet-set nomad vision put Pucci on a very specific shelf of glossy Real-Housewives-kind-of clients. And then, suddenly, Camille Miceli arrived to this kaleidoscope-printed world in 2021. Her debut collection, entitled La Grotta Azzurra, is an optimistic start of the new Pucci chapter.
The designer touched down in Capri – Marchese Emilio Pucci’s beloved holiday destination – this week with her launch collection, making a splash in the late-April waters with an intense “experience” enjoyed by 160 guests flown in from Paris, Milan, and London. The US contingent was represented by the rapper Gunna, whose performance capped off three Pucci-fied days of activations and dolce vita – decadent dinners and hours-long lunches at Bagni di Tiberio; morning yoga classes for stylish Pucci yoginis; and “how-to-style-a-scarf” lessons in the label’s store on Via Camerelle. The see-now, buy-now collection was presented live in various tableaux vivants throughout the island, with Pucci-clad models looking very Slim Aarons in the surroundings. “Pucci isn’t a conceptual brand, it’s a lifestyle brand, so its message has to be direct,” she said. For Miceli it means energizing it further, amping up the joie de vivre factor already embedded in its codes. Energy is an attractive trans-generational attitude, and permeating the label with a positive, slightly trippy vibe will help engage for a wider, younger audience. Miceli also highlighted what she called Pucci’s “humanity and peculiar sensibility,” which she enhanced, for example, by creating hand-drawn iterations of the famous prints. “I think that digitized patterns strip Pucci’s motifs of the imperfections that are part of their unique charm,” she explained. In the new collection, which is full of simple (and at points simply plain, like all the active-wear), casual separates, the patterns’ pyrotechnics are offset by the use of few solid colors. Being a skilled accessories designer, Miceli has cleverly expanded the offer, working around the shape of two interlocked little fishes, playfully replicating the P in Pucci. The designer had it tranlated into enameled bracelets and metallic necklaces; into the outlined rubber soles of funny flip flops; into buckles decorating wooden clogs and high-shine platforms; and into a cute bag shaped like a fish. The Pucci reboot will proceed along a non-seasonal cadence. “The idea of season is démodée,” Miceli said, so jumping on the fashion show merry-go-round isn’t on the agenda yet. “It’s easy to have models walking a catwalk, but this see-now, buy-now formula with monthly new drops keeps you on your toes, creatively speaking, as you have to constantly find new ideas to engage the customers.” Rarely this strategy worked for other brands, but for Pucci – which largely is a “resort” label – that might the right path.
It’s quite impossinle to move past the cat hats in KNWLS autumn-winter 2022 collection. The result of many years of perfecting, the hats nod to Harajuku and raver aesthetics, pulled right from the pages of Fruits magazine, and Charlotte Knowles and Alexandre Arsenault‘s own club kid lifestyle. Once you get past the immediate and delicious pang of the foxy little toppers, you’ll find an expanded KNWLS multiverse. As a brand beloved by Dua Lipa, Emma Corrin and Julia Fox, KNWLS has become synonymous with stringy sexy corsets and attenuated shoes and bags. Knowles and Arsenault can deliver that in spades – see their well-engineered ice blue bodysuit and platform shoes this season – but rather than just do what they do, they want to do more. Newness abounds in textural, chunky knits, with clubby fringe fraying off and cropped space-dyed wrap cardigans. Leg warmers are belted just below the knee and flare out in shearlings and knits. The proportion play is almost cartoonish – like a video game vixen, the KNWLS silhouette knows exactly where to exaggerate and where to cinch, contrasting gigantic fluff-coats with slender flared leggings, and maniacally slender waxed leather corsets with the lowest of low-rise pants. Each piece is tailored precisely – these aren’t just fun sexy clothes without craft – adding to the sharpness and the spunk of the look. The real story, though, is about movement. Flutter hems would seem like anathema to the KNWLS look, but here, Knowles and Arsenault have built a minidress with dozens of inset panels so the fabric dances around the model’s legs in a video by Jordan Hemingway. It’s sexy and innocent in an almost terrifying way. But that’s the KNWLS look – as per their press release, this season, it’s equal parts Suspiria and Nine Inch Nails, riffing on that tension of beautiful, scary, corporeal horror. Don’t get the wrong impression, though. Knowles and Arsenault are lovers, not fighters. “We just wanted to make things that are precious to us,” she says. The beauty in danger is their sweet spot – and the cat hats just top it all off nicely.
Going for an all-pastel colour palette might be lethal. But the Rodarte sisters manage to keep the saccharine sweetness not that naive in their autumn-winter 2022 collection. The ultra-feminine line-up is heavily inspired by ballet and ballerinas’ ensembles, and it makes so much sense: Kate and Laura Mulleavy created Natalie Portman’s costumes for Darren Aronofsky’s terrific Black Swan back in 2010. But right now, there’s nothing evil about the Rodarte Swan Queens. Over 2020 and 2021, their innate sense of woman-ness has led the Los Angeles-based designers to swing their pendulum into collections about optimism, comfort, sweetness, sparkle, and motion. What they’ve landed on here is equilibrium. In pastel imagery by Daria Kobayashi Rich, with set design by Tina Pappas and Adam Siegel and floral design by Joseph Free, the Mulleavys have found the happiest, tenderest of marriages between the tiered cascades of blush tulle worn by Lili Reinhart, the crisp pink suiting donned by Janicza Bravo, the patterned tea dress on Natasha Lyonne, and the jeans and legwarmers on Laura Love. “The fantasy of what we want to do and create is the number one driving force,” demurs Kate, but when the Rodarte fantasy intersects so potently with reality as it does here, the designers’ honestness can feel more relevant than ever. In between, they make pit stops in bright fuchsia and teal, resurrecting their famous grunge-y spiderweb knits from autumn-winter 2008. “They are practical in a sense that they mold to your body and impractical in the most amazing way,” says Kate of the signature knits. The original versions – mini tube dresses and long cardigans – are back to the sure joy of many fans, but the sisters aren’t just playing to archive-mania. They’ve also made bustiers and capes in the knit, the latter worn by Lana Condor in a blue look trimmed in feathers. “The cape,” Kate says, “is practical and whimsical.” And sometimes you need fashion to be just that, equal parts a slip dress and a fantasia. It’s that kind magic that makes so many celebrities show up for a Rodarte photoshoot: the girls who get it, get it.