Eye-Popping. Nina Ricci AW23

It’s a new day at Nina Ricci. After years of either inconsistent visions of various creative directors or viral ideas that never went beyond the runway, the historic Parisian maison needs an assertive path to take in order to be a name that sparks true interest and desirability among contemporary customers. Harris Reed, the young designer known for his gender-fluid approach at his highly-dramatic, London-based namesake label, and dressing super-stars like Harry Styles and Florence Pugh, is here to refresh Nina Ricci. His debut collection was a loud and bold statement filled with over-the-top shapes, eye-popping colours and psychedelic prints. First modeled by Styles at the BRITs, the tailoring looked like it took its cues from Bianca and Mick Jagger’s matching 1971 wedding suits – down to the extra-wide brimmed hats. Runway-spanning circle skirts leaned perilously close to costume, just like most of the offering. And then there was the show-closing hobble skirt – the model who wore it deserves a prize for not toppling over. Except for all the camp-y looks and downpour of gimmicks, there was no depth in this debut or wider understanding of the brand. Not speaking of actual ready-to-wear, which was pretty much non-existent… Where Reed is way out ahead of most of the Parisian brands is with his cast. Precious Lee opened the show, and as she vamped for the cameras, it was a reminder of the too narrow and old-fashioned visions of beauty seen elsewhere this week. Clothes-wise, Reed has a long, long way to go.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Aquatic Wonderland. Versace SS21

As we are somewhere in the middle of the fashion month, two camps of designers can be noticed: the ones that take the realistic, pragmatic approach, and the ones that prefer escapism in midst of a crisis. Donatella Versace is in the latter group, as she takes us to her aquatic wonderland for spring-summer 2021. The Versace line-up was really good this season (and you know I’m not the biggest fan of the brand), but it was the model casting that truly stole the spotlight. Seeing the gorgeous, body-positive models – Jill Kortleve, Precious Lee and Alva Clair – in the Versace fantasy-land was a inclusivity moment that sadly isn’t a usual sight in Milan (except for Fendi and Marni, which invite different models to their fashion shows for a couple of seasons now). Hopefully, Donatella will keep it up. What about the clothes? In the imagined ruins of Atlantis and water currents streaming down its projected walls. Versace goddesses and gods wore starfish, coral, and seashell motifs from Gianni Versace’s ‘trésors de la mer’ collection for spring-summer 1992. They were ready to take on a new reality like the Rebirth of Venus herself (starring Adut Akech in the title role, of course). Versace, who described the collection as having “an upbeat soul,” said her challenge was to give fashion meaning in a historical moment like this. “I wanted to do something disruptive and to break the rules because I think that, what worked a few months ago, does not make any sense today. Creatively, that meant finding a way to bring the DNA of Versace to a new reality and to people who have undergone a deep change.” Clothes-wise, it’s a fun, high summer venture: it was, on the women’s as well as the men’s side, high-octane sporty cocktail-wear for an optimistic future. In all its sea-centric detailing, it also had its moments of ingenuity: micro-pleated dresses trimmed with twirly ruffles, which bounced like jellyfish in the waves walking down the runway; crazy cascading skirts layered like the lips of shells; and a bag constructed like a big fortune cookie.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.