Thoughtful. Jil Sander Resort 2021

If the pandemic has made us consider a more thoughtful, responsible approach to fashion consumption and an appreciation for the consistency of values expressed by a labels’ ethos, then Jil Sander’s Lucie and Luke Meier could find themselves in a good position. “In a certain way, the pandemic has just reaffirmed what we believe in,” they said during their resort presentation, held at the brand’s showroom in Milan. “This tragic situation has made people take a long, hard look at themselves, their habits, their values. It’s what we’ve done. We really still find that our path is a good one; our philosophy hasn’t changed.” The Meiers have built their fashion credentials around a care for quality, creating pieces that stand the test of time while being of the moment, with an emphasis on great execution. The human touch of craftsmanship is paramount to their aesthetic – just take a look at a clean-cut, pleated dress in butter yellow linen with embroidered jacquard inserts appliqued on the peasant sleeves, all woven by a family in Sardinia with traditional local techniques. For resort, the designers favored pure silhouettes, together with their flair for style opposites: strong proportions and sensible fabrics; a masculine sharpness of cut and delicate choice of colors. Shapes were kept sculptural but softer than usual; suiting was given a chic modernist feel, as in a sharp-cut masculine blazer in cream wool silk gazar paired with a circle-cut, cone-shaped asymmetrical matching skirt. Contrasting the restraint the designers favor, a comforting, pillowy padded blanket cape in high-shine white silk satin with baby blue inserts was thrown languidly over a feminine double-cashmere sleeveless dress. Meiers’ conceptual approach to the brand is all about consistency: “We don’t think that the Jil Sander woman really changes,” they said. “She cares about really good design, beautiful fabrics, pieces that are very well made; all these elements are now becoming more important than ever. People will probably consume less but better; they still want to treat themselves to a beautiful piece.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look: Stella Jean AW14

In support for the Black community, I continue celebrating and highlighting the talented individuals that shape fashion today. Take notes! Stella Jean, Rome-based designer with Haitian origins, is recognized as the first Black Italian designer. She is considered to be Giorgio Armani’s protégé, and her collections are some of the boldest moments every Milan fashion week. The basis of Jean’s work is multiculturalism applied to fashion, resulting in a cultural fusion of her own métisse identity. Her work often merges classical Italian tailoring with stylistic features of varying cultures, whether its wax prints from Burkina Faso or artisan embroideries made in India. Above is my all-time favourite Stella Jean look from her delightful autumn-winter 2014 collection. For more of the designer, see my previous posts on her or check out her site!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Lets Talk About Prada SS05!

I’m always obsessed with a Prada collection. Sometimes, I’m completely absorbed in her take on bourgeoisie and conservative dressing. Another time, I drift away in her more surreal styles. But lately, Miuccia Prada‘s spring-summer 2005 keeps popping over and over again in my mind. It’s like a scent of summer holidays, which are the perfect balance of heavenly relax and active experience of discovering. Back in the day, Miuccia acknowledged that this collection was a leap from her more demanding line-ups. “A vague idea of birds; birds of vanity, like peacocks, parrots, and swans,” was a starting point in her restless search for change, she explained. “I also wanted to move toward something more young and sporty, tall and narrow.” To bring the audience into her new reality, Prada stripped her familiar clean, boxed-in stage set down to the bare industrial walls, then projected Rem Koolhaas’ mind-scrambling collage of live news images onto them. It was a lot to take in before the show even started – but that, one suspects, was exactly Prada’s intention with the clothes, as well. There was so much going on. A rhapsody of colour, an excess of textures. But also, a different silhouette (short hemlines, worn mostly with flat sandals), a return to one of her favorite palettes (brown-ochre-rust), and as always, lots of artful eccentricity, like peacock feathers (I saw this dress at Didier Ludot vintage store in Paris and its magnificent) and knitted flowerpot hats. There was also a Jamaican dance hall vibe, with reggae on the sound system, Rasta stripes in the knitwear, and Caribbean crochet in the raffia hats and cardigan coats. And, oh, please note how relevant it is! That’s the power of Prada.

P.s. Happy Birthday, Miuccia!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Look – Salvatore Ferragamo Resort 2020

In these very uncertain times, it’s worth trying to slow down and relax… and who wouldn’t love to stay home while wearing this gorgeous, over-sized jumpsuit from Salvatore Ferragamo‘s resort 2020 collection? In keeping with the elegant, streamlined approach Paul Andrew has introduced at Ferragamo – he calls it “sartorialism with a casual edge” – the designer as well emphasizes a workwear-inspired silhouette. Perfect for home meditating, lazy yoga or even reading a book on the balcony, no?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Soft Geometry. Missoni AW20

The spotlight of the last days of Milan fashion week was stolen by the abrupt spread of corona virus in multiple of Italian regions near the city. Still, one of those closing shows just can’t be ignored: I’m speaking of the beautiful Missoni line-up. The organizing principle was geometry. Press notes made reference to the 1884 book Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, in which its author, Edwin A. Abbott, made squares sexy. Angela Missoni‘s take on geometric patterns of all kinds were collaged on every manner of knit, from the most generous of belted cardigans to body-clinging ribbed tops and tube skirts. The palette was dark and moody and shot through with metallic Lurex, and as ever the patchworking of different motifs was a highlight. The navy and gold intarsia coat with slouched-on ’80s proportions is the must-have, just as all the gorgeous blazers.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Never Obvious. Bottega Veneta AW20

With today’s breaking news of Raf Simons co-designing Prada with Miuccia Prada (!!!!!) since next season, Daniel Lee‘s Bottega Veneta might not have that much attention it had for a while in Milan this coming September. Still, Lee evidently tries to win with the mainstream hype that started to abruptly surround the brand he shook up, and tries risky things. Painful colour combinations that look so bad they’re actually good. Volume plays that aren’t the easiest to pull off. Accessories which are distant to regular “it” bags and “it” shoes (fringed octopus clutches, rubber boots in neons). I’m aware that the audience’s memory span is too small for noticing all the Phoebe Philo and Céline references (really, every single look reminded me of a specific collection – and especially Philo’s now iconic swan song line-up, which was also the last for Daniel), so no surprise the collection’s edginess is this electrifying. For autumn-winter 2020, Lee decided to examine softness – something he has missed in his debut last year. “When you look at the brand’s beginnings, everything it made was so soft. I find that super inspiring.” That thinking informed the ready-to-wear he put on the runway. But equally, so did the fact that at the age of 34, Lee is part of the street wear generation that’s wearing trainers, sweatshirts with prints and any piece of clothing that puts an emphasis on cool and comfort. He asked himself, “How do we put ourselves together in a considered, elegant way but still feel comfortable?”. His answer was simple: stretch. Even the refined men’s tailoring was built with stretch in it, he said, so it moves with the wearer. He also put big emphasis on both knit dressing and jersey, for both day and evening. Movement is his other obsession. He said he’s been spending a lot of time at La Scala watching dance performances; he likes all kinds, from ballet to modern. No wonder why those sequinned maxi-dresses and coats with floor-sweaping XXL-fringes look so amazingly vibrant and energetic once they are worn and presented in motion. Expect this collection to sell out within hours once the pieces arrive to the stores.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Assemblage. Marni AW20

While the topic of sustainability seems to be utterly dormant in Milan, at least you’ve got Marni‘s Francesco Risso that takes some steps in order to address it. The collection used what appeared to be fragments of existing garments: take the cardigan dresses created from several different pieces of knitwear, each element linked with the crude stitchery of a child in a craft workshop. The remnant scraps produced in their manufacture, Risso noted, had been regenerated to create smaller elements such as the purses shaped like Victorian carpetbags or the old-fashioned wrestlers’ shoes. Risso described the effect as DIY, and the deliberate naivete continued with the magnificent finale pieces made using scraps of humble cotton fabric patchworked together with shards of cut velvet woven by hand in a factory in Venice on looms that were originally designed by Leonardo da Vinci – a vanishing, time-consuming craft that Risso understandably wants to “protect and exalt.” “They are basically our new furs,” he said of these precious garments. The collection, as the designer explained, was “collaged from the beginning to the end – from macro to micro to fractal. It’s about putting together remnants.” Julien d’Ys gold and silver dust make-up and lacquered hair on the models added even more spark to Risso’s wearable assemblage. Gorgeous.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Eat (and Wear) Cake. Moschino AW20

I suddenly started enjoying Jeremy Scott’s Moschino last season, when he showed the super camp intepretation of fashion-meets-art. His work lately is absolutely un-commercial, and that might be reason looking at it is so amusing. For autumn-winter 2020, he chose a total fashion cliché: Marie Antoinette. Karl Lagerfeld did a Chanel collection dedicated to her. Last season, Thom Browne had his models wear painful-looking crinolines, corsets and big hair fit for the Versailles. In Milan, Scott clashed Marie Antoinette pannier dresses with the most emblematic womenswear garment of the radical 1960s, the miniskirt. Scott’s mini pannier came in various iterations: gold brocade on denim, white biker, black biker, and toile de Jouy. This archetypally 18th-century pattern was used across the collection with the original faces of its cavorting courtiers transformed into wide-eyed anime characters. The kitschy, cake-based finale that was served was hilarious and provided total visual oversaturation with all its sweetness and icing-like details. Let them eat (and wear) cake.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

From The Boudoir To The Boardroom. Fendi AW20

I really loved Fendi’s autumn-winter 2020 collection. First, no sight of F logos all over the place. Second, Silvia Venturini Fendi nailed the femme fatale look making it simultaneously powerful and confident. Third, the collection’s model casting is a revolutionary moment for Milan, which is considered the most „conservative” of all four fashion capitals. Jill Kortleve and Paloma Elsesser became the first ever so-called “plus size” models to walk a Fendi runway. They looked incredible. And there were also the „veteran” models: Karen Elson (she had completely elevated her grey knit look), Liya Kebede, Carolyn Murphy and Jacquetta Wheeler. Silvia found it frustrating to always present shows whose casts were defined by the sample size.  “Especially because you talk to me and I am not really a prototype of that shape. So it’s liberating for me to portray these clothes in a different way, on different sizes.” Yes, two models in a cast of 50 girls seems not much, but still. Big hopes that this isn’t just a one-season thing. Back to the clothes for a moment. Fendi mentioned liberation, and that was the spirit of a show presented on a curvy, pink upholstered runway. The spectrum of that freedom ran from the liberatedly libidinous to the glass-ceiling smashing, or “from the boudoir to the boardroom” as the show-notes put it. The pieces combined executive chic with a sexual tweak. This was a collection that embraced the double standards of male-eye categorization and short-circuited them via disassembly and disguise: dressing up for self-gratification rather than that of others. Silvia Fendi and Miuccia Prada are the only two pre-eminent female designers in Milan. This season, both of them make significant statements on women and femininity.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.