Happening. Marni SS22

Francesco Risso‘s spring-summer 2022 fashion show for Marni was actually a happening – which in art terms is defined as an theatrical event, often with elements of dada and surrealism. The name was first used by the American artist Allan Kaprow in the title of his 1959 work 18 Happenings in 6 Parts which took place in 1959 in New York. Happenings typically took place in an environment created within the gallery and involved light, sound, a multitude of sensations and the audience’s participation. To an extent, Risso checked all the points, redefining and expanding the concept with, of course, fashion. In the days leading up to the show, the designer and his team conducted fittings for 400 people. The models got the new spring collection, while the show’s performers and guests wore upcycled cotton separates hand-painted with colorful stripes. Risso grew discouraged by the digital focus of the job during the lockdowns. His idea, he explained, “was about going back to the practice of what we do, which is making clothes for people, one to one.” He said the process was just as significant to him as the final result. But, oh, what a final result. All season, we’ve been waiting for a designer who was up for the hard but necessary work of addressing the last year-and-a-half of pandemic and racial justice reckoning. Who acknowledged the changes the world has gone through in our mutual isolation, and, in turn, changed the way they do things. For the “fashion happening”, Risso invited Dev Hynes for the music; the poet Mykki Blanco did a spoken word performance; the singer Zsela was joined by a heavenly sounding choir. On the program notes, Babak Radboy, who’s known for his work with Telfar Clemens, shared creative direction. The cast had the racial diversity, body inclusivity, and gender fluidity.

The spring collection’s two main motifs were stripes and daisies. Sometimes, the simplest ideas are the most effective. “Stripes are strongly associated with direction, where daisies are new beginnings and resilience; they’re banal concepts,” Risso said. But in a palette of blues and yellows, they weren’t boring. Navigating a spiral seating arrangement before reversing the circle on a central stage, the models wore slinky bias dresses in graphic rugby stripes, color-blocked blazers, Breton stripe ponchos, easy woven caftans, and shaggy cardigans and shawls, one of which was modeled by Risso himself: everyday clothes with a feeling of the hand. And then came the daisies, which felt more eccentric: naively embroidered on signature Marni shapes, intarsia’d on trompe l’oeil knits, and on the striking final look, hand-painted on a floor-length T-shirt dress. “I kept thinking about sports, not because the collection has references to sports in its details, but because of how teams work – that union,” said Risso. “At the end of the day, who is our trainer? It’s our heartbeat, it synchronizes everyone.” As the models circled the crowd at the finale and Szela sang Dev Hynes’s moving original composition “Guide You Home,” the audience erupted in applause. It went on for some time.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Forever Timeless. Zanini SS22

Marco Zanini launched his brand in early 2019, and he makes no secret of the challenges of being a one-man show building a label from scratch in a city full of industrial behemoths and glitzy events. “I’m looking for support,” he said frankly. “It’s very positive to be above the confusion, but now I’d like someone to put some money in it.” He’s the kind of designer you hope gets the help and structure he needs because he has unwavering taste and an understated but luxurious aesthetic. The Zanini spring-summer 2022 collection is a little less formal than the label’s previous seasons, though all of it is constructed with the same care as usual. Where many of the prints we see on the runways these days are designed on a computer with Photoshop, Zanini created his in collaboration with an artist based in Antwerp. There’s a lush chrysanthemum print on a cotton shirtdress and a finely rendered watercolor print of baskets on a silk one. Tailoring is a Zanini calling card, only here he gave it a more carefree attitude. Cotton shorts made for an unexpected but believable accompaniment for an ivory silk jacquard blazer, and a Breton shirt in gray with plum stripes gave a chrysanthemum-print jacket and army green silk pants a chilled-out vibe. Other collectable knits included ribbed linen Henleys and tanks for layering, and cashmere in both shrunken cardigans and a blanket-size cocoon. It’s a wardrobe to dream about (and invest in).

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Thriving. Versace SS22

Versace is thriving. The confluence of Dua Lipa, Naomi Campbell and Lourdes Leon on the spring 2022 runway almost broke the internet. It definitely crashed Versace’s website momentarily, so heavy was the traffic to its livestream. The scene outside the Milan venue was just as frenetic, with young people lining up for in-person sightings. Donatella Versace knows how to capture the world’s attention. The collection was a bright, shiny revival of Versace’s many hits, aimed straight at the heart of the TikTok generation — young people for whom Dua and Lil Nas are household names, but who may be less familiar with the supermodels who helped propel the brand to fame 30 years ago. Naomi Campbell, though, was in the house to help show the new-gen models how it’s done. Dua opened the show in a cut-out jacket and slashed skirt tricked out in multicolor versions of the house-famous safety pins, and closed it in the even more iconic chain mail, dipped hot pink for the occasion. In between, Versace kept things young and playful, showing basketball silks and pajama sets in the archival Medusa print and the new La Greca print, and using the patterns for accents: a handkerchief top here, a bikini top there, and as patchwork on baggy faded blue jeans. The color palette was pure pop: a long run of Miami neons was bookended by sections of black, with a brief segue into collegiate red that featured what might be Versace’s first varsity letterman’s jacket. These clothes would be right at home in Miami, not least of all Imaan Hammam and Kiki Willems’s vinyl bustier dresses. In addition to Donatella’s Milano triumph, yesterday evening, the rumors materialised into an IRL collaboration with Fendi’s Kim Jones and Silvia Venturini Fendi. And oh my, this was the moment we’ve all waited for this fashion month.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

L’Amant Double. Prada SS22

The Prada spring-summer 2022 show was the first chance to see Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ work on an IRL catwalk. Their collaboration began just as the pandemic descended, and with only videos to tell the story, it could feel at times like the project was in its beta phase. Eighteen months later, with vaccines reopening the world, the brand staged two simultaneous shows, one at home in Milan and the other at Shanghai’s Bund One. At the Fondazione Prada, large LED screens were placed around the runway, and via the live feeds we could see different models striding by in the same looks. As Simons put it, it’s about connecting the world. Clothes-wise, I’ve never been so on fence with a Prada line-up, but I guess if a collection this season makes you question things, then it does the work. Collectively, people on the streets and people inside the fashion industry are embracing sexiness. There’s a diversity of opinion about what’s sexy, but generally speaking, clothes have gotten tighter, smaller, and more see-through as we begin emerging from this COVID-19 crisis. The young generations display a new kind of body positivity that can be frankly startling for older types who didn’t grow up as free. Ultimately, though, their boldness is heartening. “Seduction, Stripped Down” is the name Prada and Simons gave to the collection. In her notes, Prada said, “We thought of words like elegant – but this feels so old-fashioned. Really, it’s about a language of seduction that always leads back to the body. Using these ideas, these references to historical pieces, the collection is an investigation of what they mean today.” The historical ideas in question are the familiar tropes of womanhood, like bra cups and corsetry boning, made unconventional by how they were presented: on simple, even plain, sweaters or as details on denim coats. Duchesse satin sheaths read as almost demure until the dresses turned to reveal they were unbuttoned to the lower back, exposing peekaboo flashes of lingerie. The long evening column also got a rethink; it was sliced above the knee, but a bow in back extended to the floor. “That feels modern,” Simons stated. The hard/soft interplay of raw or distressed leather jackets and tiny duchesse satin miniskirts trailing trains counted as the collection’s most talked about details. Well, I can’t stand those trains, and I feel like they’ve polarized the entire industry. It’s not easy to redefine sexy, as we’ve seen elsewhere this week. Does this word even mean anything in fashion today? Miuccia and Raf did “sexy” in the Prada-ist “ugly chic” manner, balancing cumbersome and sleek, lace with leather, the wrapped and the untied.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

I Feel Like A Butterfly. Blumarine SS22

In just a few seasons, Nicola Brognano (with Lotta Volkova’s styling help) has flipped and twisted one of the sleepiest brands in Milan and transformed it into a 2000s-era e-girl nostalgia heaven. Blumarine last had such success in the end of the 90s and the beginning of the millenium, when nothing seemed better than rhinestone butterflies, sexy ruffles and lots, lots of denim. It’s 2021, and ironically, that’s what the TikTok generation loves and needs in their lives. Yet when asked backstage about his inspiration for spring, Brognano said “no one in particular really“. He knows that what matters is inundating social media accounts with the brassy swagger of all the skimpy, hotter-than-hot pants trotting on stilettos on the catwalk today, as well as the risqué fringed and beaded bikinis barely covered by a cropped cardi trimmed in regenerated mink or crocheted in fluoro recycled poly, or the see-through chiffon cargo pants with midriff-baring matching tops in eye-popping Day Glo colors. The co-conspirator in Brognano’s implacable turnaround is Volkova, who was busy backstage before the show shepherding models into a not-too-orderly lineup. Dressed in a whisper of a dress in pale pink stretchy gauze and chaperoned by her gallant, elegantly groomed black poodle Dimitri, Lotta fired off a barrage of her own takes on Blumarine’s new fundamentals: “Military Fairies. Sexy Butterfly girls. Frivolous and fun early Y2K mood when social media wasn’t on the horizon. Denim patchwork queens. Trippy, psychedelic, neon girls. Red carpet denim prints, red carpet bandanas. Low-waisted mermaids.” Love it or hate it, but that kind of Blumarine seems to be timeless.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.