Daniel Lee and his Bottega Veneta are definitely in a good mood, and look forward to the the joyful re-emergence that might finally arrive this summer-slash-autumn. The pre-fall 2021 outing that (Instagram-less) brand calls “Wardrobe 02” is a bold line-up of essentials sprinkled with a few of the so-odd-it’s-good whimsies that will soon become collector’s items. Yes, the company will be selling the roller skates that Oumi Janta and Malick Bodian model in these pictures. It’s also a branding exercise, with a look book lineup that includes, in addition to the roller skaters, the musicians Skepta, Arca and Neneh Cherry; the dancer Roberto Bolle; artist Mark Leckey; and Central Saint Martins B.A. fashion course leader Sarah Gresty, a friend of Lee’s from his school days. “It’s people who we aspire to see in the clothes,” he told Vogue. “And there’s big diversity, from music, film, dance, theater, art, skateboarding.” As that roster suggests, and as previous Lee runways have told us, there’s nothing conservative about Bottega Veneta essentials. For Lee and his team, clothing is performance. That’s clear from a look that’s feathered in aqua blue plumes from its high neckline to its pants hem, from an intricately beaded knit BV-green evening dress, and from a giant leather belt that twists around the torso like a helix. But it also goes for straight-world-passing tailoring. The tweed suits are boardroom safe, but they’re definitely not boring. “They’re generic in a way. I like this idea of quite banal everyday clothes” Lee said. “But when you see the fabrics in real life there’s always more to [them]: the tweeds that stretch, the beautiful fabric development, the garments that are constructed without linings. There’s a lot of love and attention in the details, and that we really get off on, honestly.” What you can’t miss is the sense of fun Lee and company are having. His feathery party pants are a guaranteed good time and the clearest signal yet that post-pandemic fashion is going to roar indeed. “The world needs fun now. We want to be provoked,” Lee concluded.
Pierpaolo Piccioli is busy keeping Valentino’s re-signification going, the line of thought about identity, humanity, and radicalism around which he’s been tailoring his practice since last year. “Today, more than ever, aesthetics are determined by identity,” the designer told Vogue while discussing his pre-fall 2021 collection. “To make Valentino’s codes and values pertinent for today, I want to keep a firm hold on its identity while shifting its signifiers, giving them a new attribution.” What does that mean, exactly? “It means giving a more human dimension to Valentino’s lexicon, less obviously glamorous,” Piccioli said. “Not because I condemn red carpet glamour, but because today, there’s the need of a new warmth, of more humanity. So you have to open up those codes, giving them new life and the freedom to speak through more personal, individual interpretations.” And what is more individual, personal, and human than a portrait? For pre-fall Piccioli lensed the look book himself, with a cast of Italian beauties not all of whom are models, but rather friends and young women “with something to say,” he explained. The collection was intended as a series of individual pieces underlining the unique, non-clichéd humanity of each woman and her non-stereotyped representation of femininity. “The way I approached the shoot was a metaphor of what I’m doing at Valentino,” explained Piccioli. “Models for me are individuals, ‘persone’. This is a moment in time where humanity is paramount. The whole cultural discourse about inclusivity, accepting and enhancing diversities, and the freedom of expressing oneself – it’s just about putting humanity front and center as a non-negotiable social, political, and personal value.” Shot in an empty yet decadent Roman palazzo, with chiaroscuro light giving each image a painterly, metaphysical aura, the collection paid a telling homage to Valentino’s culture of couture, even if it consisted mostly of daywear. Dégradé embroideries in macro sequins, wool knots, and beads; handmade taffeta and lace intarsia; bouillonné rosettes and thread-made appliqués; embellishments made through a complex carving techniques – these and other couture flourishes were lavished on clean-cut coats and capes in double cashmere, everyday pieces of luxurious ease. Red roses, an homage to the famous Valentino flamingo dress, were stitched on a sweatshirt in vermilion cady, while a simple shirt in crisp pale blue poplin was inlaid with individually cut florals selected from different types of see-through lace. Summing up, Valentino’s ready-to-wear hasn’t been in such a good place as now for years.
There’s always irony to what Demna Gvasalia does. You can tune into the pre-fall 2021 “Feel Good” Balenciaga video and not see any fashion at all – just a stock compilation of heart-warming running horses, kittens, children, and dreamy landscapes. But the most radical content in this Balenciaga outing is actually invisible to the eye. “When I started this collection,” Gvasalia told Vogue, “I said only show me sustainable fabrics. I don’t want to look at anything else.” So everything here, beginning with the pink hoodie to the black dramatic puffed-sleeve gownlike silhouette at the end, is made from recycled and otherwise certifiably okay materials. That’s big from a brand as powerful and as influential as Balenciaga, one of the major fashion actors of the universe which calls on suppliers who do significant volumes business with them. “As creative directors, asking for this causes a chain reaction, and we have to use it,” Gvasalia continued. Taking action on absolving shoppers’ anxieties about the damaging consequences of how their clothes are made ought to be the norm. Gvasalia promises that what’s gone into this collection isn’t a one-off gesture – because who isn’t suspicious of the greenwashing promo tricks of fashion these days? He started asking for better, more sustainable alternatives a while back, he attests, and began putting some of them into the collection in September. Now to the clothes: a photoshopped lookbook, posed against a wish-we-were-there travelogue of the famous backdrops of the world. Design-wise, there are just as many familiar Balenciaga-universe destinations here: the oversize hoodies, sweatshirts, tailoring; tweaked takes on signature floral-print dresses; recycled leather and denim things; magnified utility-worker jackets. A lot of the garments, Gvasalia said, are constructed as joined-together all-in-one pieces “trompe l’oeil, so what you see isn’t what you get. A lot of dresses which are actually coats.” So, too his lookalike ‘furs,’ which aren’t either animal pelts or petrochemical fakes. A brown chubby jacket and a coat are the results of hundreds of hours of chopping up and embroidering recycled cotton. They’re lavishly time-consuming hand-made pieces. Obviously, Gvasalia is keeping his creative powder dry for the long-deferred launch of the Balenciaga haute couture collection that he’ll show sometime this summer, pandemic willing. Meantime, predictive minds might leap to the elegant silhouette in black – full length, balloon sleeved, quilted and lace-trimmed drama that Gvasalia swears was inspired by the shape of Princess Diana’s wedding dress. It’s actually a coat. “ She’s wearing a t-shirt and jeans under that.” The Gay Pride hoodie worn with the padded stole (consciously a Demna-for-Balenciaga adaptation from Cristobal’s matching ensembles for couture customers) is another highlight of the collection. “I’m gay. I grew up in a society where I couldn’t have worn that, and there are places in the world that you cannot today,” the designer said. “It’s important to push through against homophobia. I’m not someone who goes out in the street and shouts. But this is the political fashion activism I can do.”
My first ever “live” collage, which I’ve created having TikTok on my mind… just playing around and checking out the app everybody’s buzzing about! Search @designandculturebyed, because I might stay there for good! Still, I think I will always feel much more confident on Instagram.
Proenza Schouler boys continue to work with soft minimalism in the era of WFH. But for pre-fall 2021, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough try to elevate the stay-at-home style. According to McCollough, the line-up “celebrates the joy of dressing up, while injecting a strong sense of ease.” A halter dress in fine gauge crochet with graphic stripes tracing the neckline captures the vibe. Other hands-on touches include the deep lengths of fringe on knit skirts and asymmetrically placed mismatched buttons on closely fitted, unstructured blazers worn with puddling bell-bottom pants. In another look, the designers used a gold chain to gather the hem of a dress to its midriff, looping the fabric through hoops to create a decorative slimming detail at the waist. It’s all good, but I wish most of it didn’t feel like a moodboard filled with Phoebe Philo’s Céline and new Bottega. In a normal year, these maxi, tank-dresses would be destined for summer weddings and other special occasions. Nobody knows if those dates will hold, if the vaccine will be widely available by then or if we’ll still be waiting. That’s a lot of uncertainty to wrestle with for pretty much everybody in the industry, going forward into 2021. Still, dressing up for an attitude boost is never a bad idea, even while staying at home, so why not stay hopeful.
I’ve been following Marina Moscone‘s work since her first line-ups in 2018, but to be honest, pre-fall 2021 collection is the first time I’m truly convinced. There’s something spontaneous, truly artful, yet absolutely refined about it. Moscone has always liked the idea of a uniform, yet she doesn’t wear the same thing every day. It’s more about figuring out the foundation of her style so she can build upon it. For the designer herself that often starts with a shirtdress over trousers, or maybe a curvy suit with flat sandals, and she’ll experiment from there. Pre-fall found her thinking more literally, though, with familiar nods to school uniforms: pleated kilts, rugby shirts, shrunken blazers. The opening look was a twist on her signature overcoat, now spliced with box pleats at the hem (and styled with socks and loafers). Other tunics and blazers had plaid panels tacked to the hips, like trompe l’oeil skirts. What you can’t glean from the lookbook is that those collaged items were all cut from the same material: The olive wool tunic, for instance, was backed with the same emerald and yellow plaid that appears on its “skirt.” Moscone created those double-sided wools in spite of the fact that most people won’t notice their detail on an iPhone; more importantly, it’s the kind of refined touch her customer appreciates. Another detail will be more obvious: the patches and embroidered quotes on a blazer and a duvet-like “art coat” in ivory satin. There’s a bird of paradise flower, Moscone’s favorite South African bloom; an elephant, symbolizing wisdom and persistence; a honeysuckle rose flower, which Moscone’s grandmother used to call her; and two portraits of a little boy and girl, Moscone’s parents as kids. The coat is quilted over in places and has scribble-like printing and fringe, as if a child went crazy with a box of art supplies. Moscone hopes it will offer both comfort and uplift – a combination also found in her new crinkly tops and pajama pants, a welcome WFH update. Look forward to this collection once it hits the stores!