It’s no longer just Hot Girl Summer season. Now, it’s Hot Blumarine Girl Summer. Nicola Brognano is entering his third season at Blumarine, and his brand revamp (together with Lotta Volkova’s phenomenal styling help) keeps on getting hotter, sassier, bolder and certainly desireable. “When I came on board, they were all skeptical,” he told Vogue. “I’ve been grilled by critics. Now they love what I’m doing. The message was strong, different, fun; it was a clean cut with the past but I’ve kept a certain Blumarine spirit. Gen Z followers immediately reacted; girls on TikTok started to replicate Blumarine furry skirts and tops from day one. We have dedicated fan pages.” For resort, Brognano is riffing on the new repertoire he’s established for the brand: a girly, sassy, mischievous take on the early-2000s pop star glam of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Christina Aguilera that he worshipped as a teenager in Southern Italy. “Inspiration for me doesn’t mean a thing. We have to live in the now,” he said. “I’m inspired by social media, by the young girls dressing for real life on Instagram and TikTok. I’m not looking to the past. But I never forget what made me love Blumarine in the first place: its romantic sexiness, itsmalizia.” Brognano’s Blumarine girl is guilt-free sexy and a bit of a badass. She’s playing dress-up, but then “fucking it up with something revealing and wrong,” adding a fake fur stole over a skimpy crocheted minidress, or wearing slouchy cargos in luscious pink satin together with a slim-fitting hot pink leather blazer and a midriff-baring bandeau top. And she loves butterflies, tattooed as embroideries on pieces like this season’s bright green strapless minidress and signifying frivolity, lightness, and whimsy. “The butterfly is becoming a sort of new Blumarine logo,” Brognano concluded. “Versace has the Medusa. We have the butterfly.”
Miu Miu was one of the best things that happened this season. Since Miuccia Prada works with Raf Simons at Prada, she seems to have more spare time for the sister label, because the last couple of collections are just delightful. And the autumn-winter 2021 line-up is brilliant in many ways. First thing we know: Miuccia loves the mountains. “I remember being young, when it was hot, and you’d go skiing in your bikini,” she recalled in a digital press conference after her Miu Miu screening. “It looks strange, but in the end, it’s not.” Captured epically in high snow in Cortina d’Ampezzo in the Dolomites, her Miu Miu collection took those memories and feelings for the outdoors to the new extremes. Through a literal lens, it was the most obvious transition from indoor to outdoor dressing you could imagine: a code-switch between lingerie and skiwear. Figuratively, it was post-confinement psychology: a material outpouring of our mental state of undress and the compulsion to cover it up and put our best (and furriest) foot forward. Padded bustiers and bodices proposed alongside silk-satin slip dresses – some with aggressive spiky straps – conceived a kind of alpine lingerie (“For me, very sexy stuff,” said Prada) juxtaposed by mittens and mountain boots fit for a faux-fur yeti. “I walk a lot in the mountains and when it’s bad weather, it’s difficult,” Prada reflected. “Little by little, I realized what I was trying to say: bravery. The dream to do something that’s important and difficult. The clothes are not romantic but the spirit is.” Like animals emerging from hibernation, our return to normal is laden with anxiety, mainly because normal won’t be the normal we knew. As a result, our relationship with clothes will change. The collection offered methods to the madness in meetings between the two poles, like oversized ski suits rendered in dusty pastel boudoir satins, knitted balaclavas (that double as a face mask), girly and glamorous takes on Fair Isle jumpers, and the jumpsuits that Prada has been pushing in a big way this season. The show’s film climaxed in a bonfire ritual in the snow. It felt pagan, like a love letter to the nature the world seems to have reconnected with over the past year, and gained new respect for. “Nature is the one thing that heals you,” Prada said. “I love mountain adventures.” And we love when Miu Miu is oddly fantastic!
Blumarine is hot! While nobody really paid attention to Nicola Brognano‘s debut last season, it was clear that he (with Lotta Volkova’s styling help) has a plan for this Italian brand that once was the synonym of sexy glamour. “I’ve always been fond of Blumarine since I was a kid, Vogue Italia issues were treasured in my mother’s bridal atelier,” Brognano said during a visit to the set where the fall video was being filmed. “I still remember vividly the Blumarine advertising campaigns shot by Helmut Newton in the ’90s, they were fabulous!” That was the label’s heyday. Making it pertinent for today’s sought-after young audience, winning not only their social media attention but also their spending power is the challenge the designer has to face. He might succeed – he ticks all the boxes. For autumn-winter 2021, Brognano looked at his teenage heroines, Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and their early aughts excesses. He was a huge fan. The collection screamed Madonna-meets-Steven-Meisel-‘Sex’-Book as well. “My Blumarine is more dirty, bitchy, sexier,” he said. It definitely seems to have the punch celebrities respond to. Ariana Grande, Rihanna, and Dua Lipa have all asked for clothes, or for the impossibly high stilettos with crisscrossing full-leg straps that are becoming a hit. If Brognano knows how to put the power of stardom to good use, but he’s also business savvy. The ultra-short draped minidresses in candy colors can be covered up by cozy oversized cable-knitted cardis with fake-fur collars. Elongated crocheted-wool vests had a thrifty feel; they were see-through enough to look sexy without being too revealing. Nostalgic Blumarine fans weren’t neglected either; the everlasting roses motif was abundantly represented, digitally abstracted in liquid watercolor prints or knitted in sprouting 3D rosettes on cropped wool sweaters paired with matching briefs. Denims were totally Britney – low-slung, extra tight, bell-bottomed, and studded with crystals (properly kitschy!). Brognano’s Blumarine is firing up.
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.
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.