A Good Kind Of Nostalgia. Blumarine SS21

This spring, when Vogue Italia made their magazine archives available for three months, I literally went through every decade. What I loved the most in the 90s and early 00s advertisement pages were the fantastic Blumarine spreads, photographed by Tim Walker. Anna Molinari’s brand was it back then. Youthful, romantic, kitschy in a good way and so, so Italian. I couldn’t help, but wonder, why no one picks up those crazy-good style codes and make it work in 2020? Nicola Brognano, the new creative director of Blumarine, was the smart one. In case you haven’t heard of him, he worked for Giambattista Valli on the pret-a-porter and couture lines, then for Dolce and Gabbana ‘alta moda’.  He launched his brand, Brognano, in 2015, with a feminine, romantic and eclectic spirit – which actually might sound like a Blumarine match. Together with Lotta Volkova, the idiosyncratic stylist, he had his debut in Milan. Not many noticed it (yet), maybe because Prada and Raf Simons over-shadowed every event going on in the city, but I feel Brognano, with Volkova’s help, has a chance to put Blumarine back on the fashion map. Mariacarla Boscono opened the show in a black velvet track-suit styled with a huge, rhinestone-encrusted logo belt, and it was clear right away that the brand is bringing back Molinari hey-day hits to the extremes. Cute pastel coats and mini-cardigans wth (probably faux) fur collars were always present in Blumarine shows, so here they are back again. Big, funky floral brooches, silk bandana crop-tops, hilarious mini-skirts and dresses with plenty of lace, feathers and vintage-y ruffles, and of course a dose of zebra and leopard print. With Lotta’s exaggerated, yet always cool styling, Blumarine 2.0. looks fresh and properly nostalgic at the same time. Also, if you love that style and can’t wait for the spring-summer 2021 collection to hit the stores, take a look at Vestiaire Collective, where you will find plenty of vintage Blumarine in really, really accessible prices (who knows, maybe in a season or two they will sky-rocket?). It’s a good start and I wonder if a long-dormant, Italian brand like this one will every again attract its client – and a new one, of course. The young generation will definitely love the mini, candy-sweet satin bags with rhinestoned “B”. As for Brognano, we know so far that he has an idea for a brand reboot. Now the question is how will he continue that dialogue.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Adidas x Lotta Volkova

I’m not an Adidas guy. But I love Lotta Volkova, the Vladivostok-raised stylist, who helped Demna Gvasalia shape Vetements and Balenciaga, has clients like The Marc Jacobs and Vogue Italia, and is one of the most sought after fashion editor of today. “Adidas approached me around two years ago with an idea to work on an undefined project together,” she tells Vogue, noting of her suprisingly mainstream collaborator: “I find it interesting to exercise your ideas in the broader audience spectrum.” In an interview, she continues: “I feel Adidas has always been around. What I mean is it has been such a reference in Eastern European culture, as well as Western subcultures, interpreted in so many ways. And its influence has gone way further outside of sports or even the fashion milieu. For example, I love those kids in Russia who tattoo Adidas stripes on themselves, or shave them out on their heads, or make those stripes into massive stickers, branding their cars.” That subcultural element is present in collaboration pieces that toe the knockoff-real line. Stretch skater dresses appear worn over triple-stripe stay-ups, tracksuits are reimagined as boilersuits, and the brand’s omnipresent slide sandals are pumped up with a wedge heel (super cute). A swimsuit and matching swim cap, both in a wave graphic, are sort of camp, sort of ironic, and totally ideal for the Olympics, if only the event hadn’t been postponed to 2021. These pieces might seem almost like a fashion parody at first, but each is fundamentally grounded in the brand’s extensive archive. And they feel quintessentially Lotta. The stylist names “the earliest pieces of clothing Adidas ever produced” as references for her designs. “For example, the green tracksuit was inspired by the first tracksuit Adidas ever made,” she explains. “Regarding footwear, I was interested to see if Adidas has ever made a heeled shoe, and we discovered the trefoil mules that gave inspiration for the Adilette. Also, I like a very hands-on, DIY approach, which inspired the windbreaker pieces with hardware zips applications.” The important question: How will the stylist of a generation be styling her own collection? “Depending on your style, the items can be mixed with your dailywear or worn head to toe and still maintain a chic, relaxed look inspired by sportswear,” she begins. “For example, I like to wear the zipped jumpsuit with my Chanel flats or any high heels. The super-high-rise swimsuit can be a great top worn with skirts, pants, or any bottoms as well as functioning swimwear.” The pieces are on sale from August 13!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki, look-book photos by Johnny Dufort.

Consolidated. Balenciaga Pre-Fall 2018

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Looking at Demna Gvasalia‘ pre-fall 2018 collection for Balenciaga, it’s quite clear that the designer has fully consolidated his persona into the maison. To such extent, that within his five seasons at the brand he has established cult pieces and cult vibe (like the spandex pantashoes, the Knife mule, the tea-dress, THAT “messy” look). Also, wherever you look, Balenciaga is an international top-seller. But once you take a peek at Gvasalia’s past approach towards fashion (that made everyone feel obsessed with him and his Vetements pals), and see what’s at Balenciaga now, I guess the ‘bad guy’ of fashion dramatically became a success story of the big luxury corporation, Kering. I know a pre-collection should sell, but right now it’s just about flipping prints and switching one neon colour for another. The spark that used to be there with every Balenciaga collection by Gvasalia, even the commercial ones, has gone. Let’s hope it’s a temporary phase…

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Flea Markets. Vetements AW18

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Shown in the corridors of the Paul Bert Serpette market, north of Paris, Vetements autumn-winter 2018 collection left me with very mixed feelings. As the fashion collective’s main representative, Demna Gvasalia, summed it up, “we took it to the flea market because that’s where it always begins.” But the clothes, and the styling, didn’t only resemble a trashy thrift shop aesthetic. The designer, who has worked for years at Maison Margiela, decided to openly refer the brand and its legendarily anonymous designer as the main source of inspiration. Diet Prada, the passive aggressive Instagram fashion critic, has already criticized Demna’s choice to do the Margiela tabi boots in the show – like, what’s the sense, if we’ve got the original?

But as for me, it’s not only about the Margiela factor that makes this collection so problematic. Vetements wants to convey the feeling of real authenticity in their clothes. For instance, Demna went to the kindergarten next door to the Vetements studio in Zurich and set the children the project of making illustrations for the T-shirts. The models, who walked the show, are said to be ‘really’ dressing like this on the daily. The clothes do look like old and tattered, and that’s the entire sense behind them. But aren’t they being manufactured from new materials before they hit the stores? If not, then the 1000 euro price tags are a complete absurd. If yes, well… I think you get this kind of hipocrysy. I really do love people who consciously dress in a ‘cheesy’ and ‘trashy’ way, go to flea markets. But dressing up in Vetements to look ‘disruptive’ is somewhat a non-sense. It’s like wearing a t-shirt of a band you’ve never listened to.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

 

Flaws We Need. Balenciaga SS18

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Demna Gvasalia and irony are two synonyms – and you know what I mean, if you’ve seen at least two Vetements collections in your life.  This season, Gvasalia wanted to do more of ‘him’ (that we know from the Zurich-based fashion collective) than dig into the Balenciaga archive. Less Cristobal, more wit and edge, but still with a strong, technical side. Coats with attachable extra sleeves, that in fact can be called a two-in-one at same price; head-to-toe money bill motif all over tea-dresses; charm belts decorated with toruist-friednly Eiffel Tower figurines; peplum tops in pink camo, a combination that sounds and looks so devastating that it’s good. This hilarious collection is a pun topped on another pun. A tongue-in-cheek comment regarding the rush for the senseless, up-and-coming trends. The clash between bad and good taste, being a result of endless street observation of how today’s society dresses. That’s what Gvasalia does best. And it’s even more thrilling to see him doing that very anti-fashion thing at Balenciaga, a fully established brand with stores all over the world. But the list of pieces that catch your eye in this collection is much, much longer. The already cult  ‘Knife’ boots  kept in a 2000s desktop print (think cheesy sunset or a postcard view of mountains); platform crocs made in collaboration with, yes, Crocs, in the most killing shade of yellow; reversible ‘rain coats’ for handbags; high-heels covered with studs and lots of tartan checks were clear signs that the designer is having an obsession with the punk subculture.

Strangely, or not, but I’m a sucker for those Demna-ish flaws and oddities. I think it’s something the superficial world of fashion needs to be ‘wake’ and relate to today’s world.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.