For autumn-winter 2021, Dries Van Noten left the comfort zone of any kind of runway or simple look-book far, far behind. There’s something cathartic about watching rage, frustration, confusion, longing and separation being danced out on a darkened Antwerp stage in the film the designer produced. Naming the un-nameable feelings of lockdown life, it plays out in territory close to home, evoking both the Belgian fashion culture of the 1990s which Van Noten belongs to, and the visceral physical intimacy of how we relate to clothes. “I think we’ve passed the stage of pretending,” he said. “We’ve all gone through something really not nice together. There’s kind of a rawness and directness also – it’s real movements, it’s real emotions.” The film, under strict COVID conditions, was a pretty big production: a gathering of 47 dancers and models on the stage of the deSingel theater in Antwerp, filmed by the director and photographer Casper Sejersen. It’s dramatic and sexual, and we’ve got the most delightful Van Noten pieces, like glittery marabou-trimmed dresses, dark tailoring and print-splashed volumes. Maybe you don’t entirely see all the details, but somehow this isn’t a disadvantage – you certainly ‘feel’ those clothes. “It’s rare that I’ve seen so much emotional kind of things which have cropped up in the body. Nobody was just saying like, ‘Oh, let’s make a pretty move.’ I think one way or another, there was something on stage there that happened. You felt that people wanted to say something with their body, even the models, who after five minutes were dancing even better than some dancers. I think Casper really managed to put that into the video – you really feel that kind of intensity that everybody felt and shared in that moment.” In the digital age, the opportunity to show clothes in movement, in different situations, on different kinds of people, and getting at social situations way beyond the narrow conventions of shows has turned out to be far more exciting, he also adds. “Do we really want to go back at a certain moment to 50 girls in a row who are 16-, 18-years-old, with a perfect size? Anyway, for June and September I don’t want to even think about shows. I don’t know if I’m going to feel the need to do a fashion show. If we are going to do them, it’s not going to be in the same way as before. I think this time is over, and nobody has the need to see a circus like that again. I think there’s now a realness and intensity, with the videos and pictures, and the way that everyone is finding their way to express themselves. And I feel quite well with what we’re doing now.”
“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.
I can’t recall the last time I was so moved by an ad campaign visual coming from a brand. And I would never expect such pleasure to come from Carolina Herrera. To celebrate the label’s autumn-winter 2020 collection, inspired by the works of Spanish Baroque painter Francisco de Zurbarán and the idea of ‘One Grand Gesture’, creative director Wes Gordon collaborated with Russian artist and photographer Elizaveta Porodina to create a portfolio of images shot entirely over Zoom (!!!), capturing ballet dancers around the world in fearless and fabulous movement and color. Elizaveta captured six dancers around the world from their homes and studios throughout the quarantine: Natasha Diamond-Walker, soloist at Martha Graham Dance Company, Ako Kondo, prima ballerina from Melbourne, Misa Kuranaga, principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet, Inès McIntosh, quadrille at Opéra National de Paris, Claudia Monja, the principal dancer of Joburg Ballet, and Wendy Whelan, the associate artistic director of New York City Ballet. “The winter collection was about the idea of One Grand Gesture – a billowing sleeve, the most pigmented color, an unforgettable silhouette. The fine line between drama and restraint. I wanted to further explore this concept with photographer Elizaveta Porodina, whose work I have always admired“, Gordon sums up. Here’s a sublime feast for your eyes and mind after a rather stressful week of uncertainty and frustration…
All photos by Elizaveta Porodina – discover her work here!
It’s rare I’m rewatching fashion show videos. But in case of Marc Jacobs’ autumn-winter 2020, I think I’ve seen it like five times already. It’s so brilliant. It’s nothing new that Jacobs closes New York fashion week with a vivid finale. But this season, it was even better. The runway featured a dance performance choreographed by Karole Armitage, New York’s „punk ballerina”, with the catwalk staged like a bistro. At some point it was hard to tell who’s the model and who’s the dancer (everybody was dressed in Jacobs), and that was the intention: beauty in chaos, told through powerful movement. Infinitely inspired by his heroes of the past and present, it is style in which different people dress at the various stages, ages and times in their lives that provokes Marc’s love for fashion and possibilities of what it can be. The designer especially had the fading image of disappearing New York in his mind – forever mythical and chic with its „beauty, promise, sparkle and grit”. As a departure from last season’s lamboyance, free spirit and color, this collection emphasizes restraint, quality of fabrics, make and proportion – valuing simplicity and timelessness above all. Jackie Kennedy’s evening dresses, pearls, refined daywear and headscarf looks were a big inspiration, just as the slinky minimalism of New York’s 90s aesthetic (which, of course, was shaped by people like Marc). Each look has its elegant charm, whether we’re speaking of white-collared dresses with above-the-knee lenght, pieces made from draped roses, classic peacoats or the marvelous gowns, inspired with couture masters. What truly stuns in this line-up is the way Jacobs brougt so much relevance and modernity out of nostalgia – literally everything is fit for 2020 here. I think it’s clear who’s (again) the winner or NYFW. And, what’s worth noting, not because other shows were dull and Jacobs was entertaining. We’ve seen some great collections this week – I’m thinking of The Row, Rodarte, Area and few others – but Marc’s felt definitely the most alive and emotional (and, simultaneously, completely wearable!).
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
The audience was directed to a cavernous dark space, trespassing similarly dark tunnels outlined with thin, colored neon lights. The tunnel opened onto a pitch-black space with a labyrinthine neon-lit floor layout, with barely perceptible human silhouettes scattered around. The audience was kept standing. The Marni troupe (which was actually a dance collective, directed by Italian choreographer Michele Rizzo) emerged in slow-motion from obscurity as if in hypnotic trance. Awakening from their sleepy state, the dancers started moving and swaying to trance music, holding onto their spots as if glued to them. Then they started moving about at a snail’s pace. Then the beat and the energy changed abruptly and the Marni-clad collective started marching about as if propelled by a sudden urge, circling around in manic mode, until the pace wound way down again. This was no longer a fashion show, but an art performance. No wonder why focusing on the clothes was challenging. But still, the show wasn’t here to conceal the clothes. The fashion repertoire was highly eclectic, as usual from Franceso Risso. Tailoring mixed with big, slouchy shapes. Coats were bisected, jackets were dilated, sweaters fragmented and juxtaposed. Scraps of fabric were pieced together in patchworks. Nothing seemed to make sense – yet all coalesced beautifully into Marni’s stylish madness. But there’s no Marni show without a piece of Risso narrative. “It’s a dance which takes us to the end of love. The end and the beginning of love. I was thinking about Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Masque of The Read Death’ and about Prince Prospero,” said the designer. The story goes that Prince Prospero locks himself in an abbey with a crowd of friends for a masquerade ball, attempting to escape the plague. The Red Death infiltrates the abbey with exterminating results. “Today it was our court of Prince Prospero’s noble friends dancing to the end of love and locked in our castle,” continued Risso. “They are a collective in a never ending party, wearing multiform uniforms… objects with a life of their own, heirlooms, something we have to protect.” It’s not the first time when the designer goes apocalyptic. Theory aside, back to the clothes: they were made from assemblages of old scraps of fabrics and leftovers of 1950s deadstock. Risso’s poetic way of addressing new methods of creating and producing clothes (recycling, upcycling, assembling, reusing!) is a consistent approach, which still seems to be missing at other luxury brands. A big yes to this collection.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
For resort 2018, Marc Jacobs wanted to convey the feeling of movement, which is so vibrantly present in the designer’s latest obsession: Robert Longo’s drawings of dancing figures. In fact, those clothes won’t look as good on a rack – they were designed to be worn, with grace. The little black dress is pure chic, and Marc might want to consider going this path of gorgeous dressses. Pencil skirts in pastel blue, lilac and pink are trimmed in plastic beads, making them ready for any night-out. To keep it downtown and Jacobs’ way, denim and slouchy knits were styled with more ‘event’ pieces.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.