Love Yourself. Mugler SS22

For spring-summer 2022, Casey Cadwallader reunited with Torso Solutions for the final installment of a trilogy of Mugler fashion films. Filmed in Los Angeles, the mind-bending video features a variety of vignettes that blend trippy glitches with the Mugler fierceness. There’s Megan Thee Stallion on a billboard; Chloë Sevigny doing a dip and turning into Barbie Swaee; Shalom Harlow and Amber Valletta sharing a kiss; and two Bella Hadids. He also recently co-directed a music video for Megan and dressed Sevigny for her wedding after-party, both of which came about, he says, after working on this video. Four years on, Cadwallader has settled in. “In the beginning I was very serious and worried about everything, but there’s this need to be irreverent with Mugler,” he says. He’s leaning into that irreverence, and the video captures it by balancing irony and seriousness in a URL-era continuation of the shows Mr. Mugler put on. Less runway, more performance.

The collection is a strong exploration of his signature elements. Ombre body-con dresses suspended from sculpted collars referencing a 1998 haute couture dress feel fresh and directional. The denim is sharper and more aligned with Cadwallader’s shapewear, partly due to the transparency of the house’s “illusion tulle.” The fabric is a riff on Mr. Mugler’s segmented tailoring, which he made with fishing line. It has replaced Lycra in the denim and is being applied to the bodysuits. “This is the most bare collection I’ve done,” Cadwallader said with a laugh. “After this I’m going to dial it in a little bit.” A tied tailored jacket stands out. It can be worn criss-crossed or with the lapels pulled apart, as styled on Dominique Jackson. Versatility is something he makes a point of. “Not only is there a variety of people in the world, but there’s a variety within each person,” he said. “One can feel like they want to flaunt themselves at 10 p.m. and feel conservative at 10 a.m., or feel masculine at 10 a.m. and feminine at 10 p.m. I want to make clothes that can serve that.” The bareness might make his clothes feel niche, as if they were made exclusively for the stages they’re often seen on, but it’s this what makes them special. Who doesn’t want to feel like a pop star, at least part of the time? In today’s saturated market, niche is a great place to be. Cadwallader said he’s aware of the critique that “things look the same” in his collections. “But that’s what a signature is!” he said, laughing. “Everything is evolving over time and eventually we’ll work into more things.” As to what those will be, only he knows, but he said he’s “ready for some volume.” Also, he’s already thinking about his next video. “At a show you have, say, 500 people, but these videos…10 million people see them.” Social media has become key for fashion conversations, and with this format Mugler has leveled show-going editors and at-home spectators. “There’s this entertainment value and joy-giving to people that I don’t want to give up on. I feel a commitment to that now, so to bring it back to a closed room and keep people out is not an option for me.”

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Showtime. Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood AW22

There are a lot of dramatic moments this Paris Fashion Week. Some directly refer to the atrocities going on in our world (Balenciaga), some deliver Old Hollywood glamour through an alien lens (Rick Owens). Andreas Kronthaler isn’t keeping it quiet either. Vivienne Westwood’s life partner and creative right hand delivered a bracingly engaging collection that was loaded with bold character. For this entertaining line-up, the designer said in his show notes that he’d wanted to pay tribute to the world of theater, plus express lightness. He also had worked “to find the muse in me.” One distinctly Andreas touch was the dandy-ish gentleman in the severe checked loden-cut coat – so too were the handsome boys in silky ruched dresses. Caped hoodies and ruche-backed tracksuits provoked the jotting “medieval athleisure” (the clothes alluded to various historical periods, creating a sort of anachronic, wearable puzzle). Crystal-fringed, 1970s-style silver sports shorts, corseted strumpet dress and track pants decorated in a rough-edged harlequin diamond pattern looked cool right away. Usually, Kronthaler’s collections feel as if somebody visited the attic, opened a dusty chest standing there, and played dress-up with all the treasures that were inside. This season it’s no different, but the amusing theatre theme makes it feel less haphazard and more convincing – especially the vintage-y vibe factor of these runway „costumes”. Westwood herself was hauled onstage as the curtain drew back and Kronthaler’s cast took in the lengthy applause. Flowers were thrown and bouquets exchanged. Then, Westwood did some hauling of her own, pulling granddaughter Cora Corré out of the crowd. A lovely family moment.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

NET-A-PORTER Limited

Très Cool. Coperni AW22

Coperni ate it up this season! This is definitely my favourite collection coming from Arnaud Vaillant and Sébastien Meyer‘s Parisian label so far. The hoodie-lapelled blazers, overcoats and fleeces that you see Coperni’s It-model cast wearing so coolly here represented a challenging design brief for Vaillant and Meyer’s tailoring atelier to achieve: they had to look good worn both up and down. As Vaillant showed on his phone pre-show, the women of that atelier – named Cap Est Sarl – sent the designers pictures of themselves wearing the prototypes as that development progressed towards runway-readiness in the last few weeks. “They are so cute, always trying the pieces before sending them – I love them,” said Meyer. Added Vaillant: “They are in Ukraine, in Kyiv: we hadn’t heard from them for a few days. They are safe for now. And we dedicate this collection to them.

This show placed this collection within the pressure cooker arena in which the insecure adolescent chrysalis is forged into the self-aware young adult butterfly: high school. On a runway framed by school lockers and to an excellent faux-radio broadcast of upbeat disaffection the models first emerged as laconically withdrawn, cloistered in those hooded pieces of generically reinvented tailoring. These did indeed work with the hood/lapel worn back off the head. Other cleverly twisted takes on tailoring were the disassembled jacket crop tops and miniskirts and a twist-fronted Le Smoking jacket with cut outs at the midriff whose construction translated finely into menswear fleeces and trench coats. A waistcoat, sometimes cut in a crystal pinstripe, also incorporated a hood that came with cute little Batman ears. Aran knit short-sleeved bodies featuring that hood and a circular cutout at the back were eccentric takes on a preppy knitwear mafia staple. Jeans and leather pants that were worn as gaiters cut to just above the knee were a funny riff on low-waistband rebellion. Upcycled Adidas Gazelles and zip-decorated pumps aside, notable footwear included chisel toed articulated soled derbies whose vectored shape was inspired by the Tesla Cybertruck prototype. Coperni’s emblematic Swipe bag appeared in blown glass: calamity was avoided when the model carrying it caught her heel on the runway and pitched forward before pulling off a graceful recovery. We shifted towards the big butterfly-emerges moment – prom night, of course – via a grungily pretty asymmetric dress in white French velvet worn with those Adidas, and a super clever minidress made entirely of upcycled ties. Prom queen candidate gowns substituted tulle for rose strewn latex and a dancefloor’s worth of who’s-sorry-now sheer minidresses. This was an extremely witty collection that was very cleverly conceived by the designers – and wonderfully cut by those Kyiv craftswomen.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Hotter Than Hell. Versace AW22

Versace is the only brand in Milan so far that has (at least) communicated on its social media solidarity with Ukraine and a call for peace. Donatella Versace did the same, which makes me love her even more. This is what independence from luxury conglomerates gives: the freedom of taking a stance.

Another great news: the autumn-winter 2022 collection is so, so good. The designer described the line-up as “an elastic band pulled tight and about to snap back with a build-up of energy”. It was an accurate illustration of how the hyper-glam Versace woman she designs for must feel after two years of horrors like “homecore”, “comfort-wear”, and “WFH dressing”. This collection was the antidote: a tailored, corseted, mini-dressed punch of power to the post-pandemic wardrobe, presented on a shiny red runway with a brilliant original soundtrack that mixed what sounded like Versace’s voice with a throbbing and electrifying beat. For its expert dressmaking, the collection was an exercise in perfecting a few simple elements. One was tailoring: Donatella broadening the shoulders and cinched the waists of suits with voluminous trousers, evoking ’80s power dressing through an amplified lens. Skirt suits in tailoring fabrics juxtaposed a skimpy hemline with big, boxy blazers cut at the same length, while skirt suits in tweeds unravelled at the hems in a polished punk way. Throughout, she stuck to her magic body grammar, accentuating shoulders, waist and hips. Then, nearly every look was based on a corset: as minimal bustiers worn on their own; embedded in mini and ankle dresses; as bustiers in tailoring fabric that matched sartorial trousers; built into wool and rubber coats; evoked within long-sleeved dresses as if a waspie had been styled over them; and – most ingeniously – structured into the waist of a puffer jacket that ballooned over it. If the silhouette those corsets created didn’t already make Versace’s models pose up a storm, Donatella underpinned her looks with skin-tight rubber tops and polished latex leggings, cementing the boudoir mood of the collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Finesse. Fendi AW22

Finally, a Fendi collection by Kim Jones I genuinely love. Fendi’s best asset, as Jones knows, is the Fendi women themselves, mother and daughter Silvia Venturini and Delfina Delettrez. In Delfina and her younger sister Leonetta, Jones has ideal muses. “What they wear is what Silvia wore when she was younger, and she’s very cool and they’re very cool; seeing how it’s generational is very inspiring. They’re obsessed by clothes and details, having those women around you when you’re working is a real joy.” Backstage of the autumn-winter 2022 fashion show, Jones explained that the genesis of his new offering was seeing Delfina in the Rome office wearing a blouse of Silvia’s from a 1986 Fendi collection by Karl Lagerfeld, when he was in his Memphis phase. “I took it off her back and put it on the research rail,” he said. Jones recolored the print and collapsed the more obviously 1980s proportions of that show’s tailoring into separates, some in menswear fabrics, others in denim. Then, because he was after lightness, he combined those references with a callback to another Lagerfeld-designed Fendi collection for spring 2000, one with a delicacy in direct opposition to the blousy proportions of the 1986 show. Naturally, Jones updated these looks too, starting by layering them over matching flutter-edged underpinnings. Jones is in many ways like Lagerfeld, an enthusiastic collector with a capacious mind for references, and he’s bringing all that to bear on Fendi. The job before him is at least in part to woo a new generation to the label; Lagerfeld, though he never lost touch with the young, was in his position for 54 years. Nominating that spring 2000 collection for a re-see couldn’t be a coincidence, what with that era being newly relevant to people who didn’t experience it the first time. But Jones has done it with finesse, avoiding any of the retro allusions seen on so many other runways.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.