Hot & Short. Tom Ford AW21

Tom Ford keeps it hot and mostly short. “The slight deconstruction of luxurious pieces is something that I feel will be a legacy of the pandemic for a few seasons to come,” he wrote in the press notes. Meaning, Zoom-perfect tops in lace and net were paired with bleached jeans, and dresses took their cues either from stretchy activewear or lingerie. Ford’s new hot pants, worn with turtleneck sweaters and puffer or aviator jackets bring that kind of sultry secutiveness he delivered in his Gucci days. Ford said the oversized jackets and underwear combos sprung from a lingerie ad he remembers from his youth. “It was also a very Edie Sedgwick thing to do,” he added. Another legacy of the pandemic he foresees will be the return of sexy. Meanwhile, the autumn-winter 2021 men’s look book includes three loungewear outfits that combine softly structured robes, button-front shirts, and elastic-waistband pants stitched with Ford’s logo (one thing I wish wasn’t there…). This is a distinctly Tom Ford collection – you want to be that girl or guy.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Space Odyssey. Salvatore Ferragamo AW21

For autumn-winter 2021, Paul Andrew delivered the most unexpected collection for Salvatore Ferragamo. His vision for the brand was all about a formal-meets-casual wardrobe, kept luxurious and upscale. However, suiting mostly failed, and COVID just made it even less in demand. So it was a smart decision to stirr things in an attempt to catch the attention of a new customer. Andrew took Ferragamo to the outer space. “I believe that at Ferragamo we weren’t pushing boundaries enough, as the founder did,” said Andrew. “He was an incredible, forward-thinking force. This collection is an invitation to introduce the label to a younger audience. Embracing the mindset that Salvatore had is our key to the future.” The designer basically made a sci-fi movie – the video presenting the collection was an elaborate affair. A tour de force shot in virtual reality and CGI, loosely based on pre-millennial cult movie Gattaca, it had illuminated tunnels reminiscent of those trespassed by Uma Thurman; space ships coming past windows open onto a futuristic city; a circular rotating platform on which a glass prism refracted rays of light into a rainbow. “The rainbow is related to Ferragamo’s past, as Salvatore became famous for the rainbow wedges he created for Judy Garland,” explained the designer-turned-director. “And obviously the rainbow is a symbol of new positive beginnings.” Clothes-wise, Andrew proposed a play on classics seen through a technical, futuristic prism; elevated, slender uniforms were given a ‘younger’ vibe, lifted by a luminous, fluorescent color chart. He called some of the pieces ‘bionic’ – tight-fitting stretchy bodysuits and all-in-ones inspired by motorcycle suits – and had them layered under elongated, heat-processed, chrome-free-tanned leather coats; under pants or ponchos in clear biodegradable PVC; and complementing suit propositions in rubberized wool. Some of it looked great, some felt quite unedited, and some – out of place. The chainmail accents (kind of felt like Paco Rabanne landed in Florence?) and shaggy mohair fringing are exciting new additions, but I wonder if they really match a Ferragamo kind of person.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

It’s Perfect. Zanini AW21

It’s always refreshing to see a Zanini line-up during Milan Fashion Week. While it’s mostly about who’s louder and bolder in Milan, Marco Zanini delivers quiet collections (the lockdowns in Italy prevented him from doing so last season, so he used his sketches to present his collection to buyers instead) that actually speak volumes and have true substance. Don’t get me wrong, I love a camp-y Moschino, but nothing beats a well-edited offering that includes a perfectly tailored, felted double-faced cashmere peacoat or a sartorial jacket made from ultralight wool flannel. Zanini is a place for women (and now for men as well) who seek timeless, investment pieces that aren’t plain, cold minimalism, but got the human touch palpable in every single seam. The autumn-winter 2021 collection is simple, but studied, while the materials are luxurious, but unshowy. “Fabrics inform everything,” he confirmed on a Zoom call with Vogue. The cotton of an elastic-waist full skirt and top with handmade buttons down its back was embroidered by specialists in St. Gallen. Scottish cashmere was used for a roll-neck jumper, and a chunky turtleneck was hand-knit from yak wool. A heavy-gauge rib-knit cardigan coat with a deep collar that Zanini showed with a pair of very well-cut pleat-front side-zip pants is another delight. Love everything.

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

Real Clothes, Real Feelings. Marni AW21

Really, who didn’t play bed-sheets-couture dress-up, even once during the year of endless lockdowns? Those fabulous, voluminous duvet garments Francesco Risso offered in his Marni autumn-winter 2021 surely had this sort of stay-at-home-laziness origin. But this collection isn’t another mumbling about “fancy” home-wear. When fashion weeks went digital and wardrobes turned domestic, designers faced new pressures from the marketing machine. “People came to me saying, ‘It has to be digital savvy; it has to be digital friendly; it has to go through the screen,’” Francesco Risso recalled. “Fuck that.”Posed with designing his second Marni collection in Italian lockdown, he asked himself: how do we respond to times of continued separation? Do we surrender to a digital overthrow, or do we fight back with all the things cyberspace could never give us: the human hand, tactility, and the chemistry of nature? “To me, it’s been revelatory,” Risso told Vogue.  Developed almost entirely by hand, the collection became a quest for understanding what triggers a romantic state of mind. He found his answer: “Life! Life is romantic. A life that allows for laughs, for positive thinking, and definitely not for abandoning the feeling of the hand that makes things.”His search materialized in the tongue-in-cheek transformation of the sportswear and loungewear codes of lockdown into real dressmaking, expressed in silhouettes informed by the classic silhouettes of haute couture. Inevitably, it generated a ladylike romanticism conveyed through Risso’s countercultural lens: a chic wrap was abstracted into a puffer cape, but retained its neat little plume trim; a mermaid skirt morphed with sweatpants; and tennis trainers sharpened into evening shoes. Paradoxically, Risso had started his search for romanticism by dyeing everything black. Wanting to witness the power of nature, he placed his all-black garments in the Marni courtyard, embellished them with real flowers, and watched the sun do its magic. “The corrosion made our prints,” he explained. Then, he took his tricks to the factories, girding himself with the patience needed to watch age-old dyeing techniques do their thing through the soak-dry-wait, soak-dry-wait ceremonies necessary. “It’s cathartic,” Risso said. “This patience has been romantic…not forcing it because it ‘has to be digital.’” Screened on Zoom, the presentation portrayed a familiar lockdown situation shot in Risso’s Milanese apartment. It turned into a salon show and culminated in the kind of lunch we are all looking forward to – with a performance by Mykki Blanco. “I hope we’re not going to forget all we’ve learned,” Risso said about the still abstract-sounding ‘reemergence’ that will sooner or later come. “It’s about narrowing things down and not wasting time and not making bullshit clothes. It’s about being more focused.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Total Fantasy. Moschino AW21

Jeremy Scott‘s autumn-winter 2021 collection for Moschino is hilariously good. Forget the lockdown-and-loungewear talk. Here’s total, camp fantasy. Possessed by the mad spirit of Franco Moschino, Scott has become a master of meta. He had to design this collection in tandem with the short film he wanted to make, with every model, look and dimension planned to precision before the clothes ever existed. There we were, sitting in front of screens as Scott knew we would, watching a digital show about a real-life salon show, which turned out to be a show within a show, all its players part of the line-up. In this imposed digital moment in fashion and life, Scott’s theater was a thought-provoking image of our current surreal lives: layers and layers of trompe l’oeil, in garments as well as their unreal surroundings. “I wanted to do things in film that you can’t do live,” Scott said on a video call from Los Angeles, reflecting on the two digital showcases he’s created during the lockdown period. Last season he designed a puppet-sized collection for a complex and fantastic marionette show. This time, he called upon 36 star models, It girls and pin-ups as diverse as Maye Musk (who presented the salon show) to Precious Lee, Dita Von Teese, and Winnie Harlow (who attended it), and Hailey Bieber, Miranda Kerr, and Shalom Harlow (who modeled in it). They staged a multi-dimensional portrayal of a lady’s everyday life: outfits for business, leisure, upkeep, travels and balls; all activities we haven’t had a reason to dress for over the past year. Even for a wardrobe designed for coming out of lockdown, the Old Hollywood Technicolor glamour of Scott’s collection – titled Jungle Red after the name of the nail varnish du jour in the 1939 George Cukor film The Women – was decidedly extravagant. “I guess I live in such a fantasy land I didn’t really think of it that way. I mean, you have to get dressed anyway, don’t you?” Scott quipped, rolling his eyes at continued fashion forecasts for comfort-wear. “Comfort schmomfort! What we need now more than ever is fantasy and glamour and things that make you feel wonderful, and I don’t think sweatpants do that.” So, call it a surreal wardrobe for surreal times: for lunch, little tweed dresses with purses dotted around them as adornment. For work, bankers’ pinstripe suits reconstructed into bustier dresses. For the countryside, Franco Moschino’s cloud and cow motifs unified on gowns alongside burlap potato sack peplum dresses – all delightfully impractical, of course, for the actual countryside. There was Kirsty Hume with a windmill on her head. And for afternoons at the museum, chic skirt suits cut like biker jackets, and paintings that came to life in brushstroke evening wear. Flamingo gloves framed the arrival of an actual dress shaped like the bird. Dita Von Teese closed the film in a show-stopping moment that was, quite literally, a cheeky statement of glamour in a time of dullness. All’s well that ends well, as they say. Let that be the concluding remark for this digital chapter in fashion history, which no one has aced quite like Jeremy Scott. Brilliant!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.