The Wolf And The Lamb. Coperni AW23

The Coperni guys seem to have perfected the art of a viral fashion moment. After last season’s finale dress that was sprayed over Bella Hadid’s body, for autumn-winter 2023 we had a pack of robotic wolves – Boston Dynamics canines – violently undressing Rianne Van Rompaey from a blanket wrap. The thing about these viral moments is that the moment they stop flooding social media, they aren’t really expanded by Sébastien Meyer and Arnaud Vaillant any further. The “spray” technology wasn’t actually used in the production of Coperni’s summer collection, while the unsettling performance we’ve seen in their latest outing in general felt flat after a second thought. What else makes me quite skeptic about the label’s “new” approach, not only in its bold use of technology, is its inspiration with Alexander McQueen. The new collection seemed to be referencing a number of McQueens show – the infamous “Highland Rape”, for instance, oozed from the ragged lining of Coperni’s dresses, just like the red tights and even the hair styling. Ok, lets move on. What all of that actually meant? The creative duo leaned into their model of shaping shows around a futuristic mise en scene by recruiting the cyber-canines to play their part in an updated retelling of French fabulist Jean de la Fontaine’s The Wolf and The Lamb. Said Vaillant: “It’s a beautiful story that talks about the balance of power between different groups. Instead of the wolf and the lamb we reinterpreted it as humans and robots.” Glossing over the fact that De la Fontaine’s original is actually a pretty brutal demonstration of the relationship between force and self-justification, this was an interesting literary device for the show. The collection featured a loose underlying riff on Red Riding Hood. The models walked out in inverted collar capelets in black and tweed before we saw looks featuring adapted versions of Gustave Doré’s illustration of the fable, featuring a robo-dog instead of the wolf, and leather trousers fringed in low-grade off-cut leather skirts. There was a pivot into emoji-based pieces: a real-life handbag shaped after the messaging equivalent, and gathered dresses pinched by appreciative hands. Yet again, the big concept overshadowed the designers’ clothes. And these guys actually know how to make great clothes, so it’s a pity.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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