Sustainable Elegance. Proenza Schoulder Resort 2021

The whole crisis of 2020 appears to work well for some creatives. This sort of reset was really needed. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler have released their spring-summer 2021 look-book not a while ago, and it was brilliant. Now, as the new season clothes are gradually arriving to stores, the boys dropped their resort 2021 line-up, which is equally great. It seems that the designers took a deep breath, reflected on their work from the last couple of seasons, and returned to Proenza Schouler’s core, but in a contemporary, thoughtful way. The resort collection is very much a product of lockdown time. The designers spent the early months of the pandemic talking business. The fashion industry was essentially at a standstill in that moment and the new normal had them reconsidering the issue of sustainability. “As a brand with a voice it’s our responsibility to address these things,” McCollough said. Over the years, they’ve amassed a huge archive of fabrics and they created parts of this pre-spring offering out of those deadstock materials. “It’s not a patchwork vibe, but it’s fabrics we’ve done before, and it’s been game changing,” said Hernandez. They’re also introducing a core offering with this collection that won’t be subject to markdowns, and hope to expand it to up to 30% of their business. “It’s relevant now, but it’s not going to be irrelevant six months from now,” Hernandez continued. “It’s a black sweater, wool suitings, nylon gabardines. So it’s sustainable also in that regard.” Browsing the lineup, it has a certain earthiness, but it hasn’t lost its cool. The palette is warm, and the smocking details feel crafty, almost homespun even on leather. As with the main collection, there’s an emphasis on easy-wearing knits. But all that is counterbalanced by minimal, ’90s-ish tailoring, which is elegant and chic.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The French Charm. Patou Resort 2021

Since the first season, I’m following Guillaume Henry‘s steps at Patou, and I must say that with every single line-up, it gets better and better. I can’t believe this Parisian brand-and-designer match is still so underrated! The label released it’s resort 2021 collection now, when the clothes are arriving to the stores. Patou’s team pulled off this collection during the most severe days of lockdown in Paris. “Everyone was at home, exchanging ideas on Zoom,” Henry says. “My magic team!” The look book models are the Belgian singer Tessa Dixon and some of the Patou people – a lovely nod to the power of team-work. What they’ve come up with – despite it all – is a continuation of the optimism and joie de vivre of the house, grounded in that French-girl taste for useful, classic tailoring – which is spring-summer 2021‘s signature. The gold brocade dress, the feather-trimmed trousers, and the multicolored, stylized 1970s prints must have felt like a shot in the dark when they were designing them. But the most charming pieces were the most grounded ones. Henry has a delectable way of combining the French vernacular of down-to-earth, traditional work with flights of fashion fancy. Part of it was inspired by looking at vintage photographs of Les Forts des Halles, the porters at the old Les Halles market in the center of Paris, who used to wear felt hats to carry crates of farm produce. That’s where the oversized, turned-back-brim hats in his collection originated; one of his charming side strategies for keeping French regional working-class culture alive and relevant for a new generation. Also, you immediately think of Émile Bernard’s “Breton Women” paintings while looking at Patou’s black and white silhouettes – like the brand’s oversized, cocooning duffle coats styled with a white, hand-cut collar. Love!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Festive Stay-At-Home. Miu Miu Resort 2021

Miu Miu‘s resort 2021 line-up has little to do with the main collection‘s 90’s-inspired girl and sporty influences, but it’s equally charming with its chic kookiness and beautiful, diverse casting. Miuccia Prada delivers a sense of festiveness combined with stay-at-home uniform. A black satin blazer is worn with sweatpants, while a full-skirted prom dress looks easy with a chunky pull-over. As the look book’s images prove well enough, it’s an offering full of delightfully mismatched concoctions of vintage-y frocks, glam eveningwear and seductive lingerie. The overall effect is sensuality tinged with irreverence, and a certain cheeky nonchalance is all over the collection. The Miu Miu woman is a master of artsy self-representation, reconciling clashing pieces into unconventional-enough, yet well-put-together looks. She apparently knows how to balance what’s off-kilter – which sounds exactly what we should all be trying to do now, playing around with clothes you’ve already got in your wardrobe… and eventual Christmas shopping frenzy which is around the corner.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Re-New. Maryam Nassir Zadeh Resort 2021

If there’s one thing you should read this weekend, it’s Irina Aleksander’s strikingly sharp and realistic feature for The New York Times on how the fashion industry collapsed, even before coronavirus became the new normal. I still believe that in the end, we will want to wear something else than just sweatshirts and sweatpants. But one specific part of this text seems to be so easy to comprehend that it’s unbelievable that the industry has never caught up with this concept: clothes aren’t food. They don’t rot after a week, neither after six months. According to Aleksander, some brands have in plans to push the unseen and unsold 2020 collections to 2021 to avoid losses. As simple as that… and yet, there’s one big obstacle. “The fascinating part is that in order to do that – to give that aged inventory value again – requires killing fashion, that nebulous deity that says something is ‘in’ this year and not the next”. So, to make it work, it’s not just about the designer – who would definitely love to take a break from everything to refuel – but the corporate floor and the customer. We should learn to slow down with that love for the “new” and appreciate what’s “now” – or at least, try to take a second look at it. To my surprise (as I already thought way back in spring that it’s a logical step to make for a lot of brands out there), for the resort 2021 season, Maryam Nassir Zadeh is probably the only designer who actually did this. She actually made old… new. Here’s how. Zadeh didn’t cut a single new garment. Instead, she put together a “hand-picked” collection of items from the past, reimagined and recontextualized for now. Years and seasons collapse in many of the looks: a white button-down from autumn-winter 2020 was styled with an ivory leather skirt from spring-summer 2020; a pair of striped shorts circa spring-summer 2019 were paired with a autumn-winter 2020 knee-high boot, redone here with a black lace shaft. Bikinis and strappy bras, often styled alone as tops nodded to her swim-heavy spring-summer 2018 show. Well… that’s brilliant! Maryam resurrected these items not just because they deserve a second look or feel newly relevant, but also because it seemed like a more sustainable way of doing things. In their walk down memory lane, Zadeh and her team only chose pieces they knew they had enough leftover fabric to make. They didn’t want to invest in making new patterns or ordering silks and wools from Italy: “It isn’t even just about sustainability in recycled materials, it’s about sustainability of time,” Zadeh told Vogue. “We never have enough time to order new fabrics from Italy, and the turnaround times [between collections] are so short.” And back to the collection: it’s quintessentially MNZ. Her sensitivity to what’s “in the air” means we will all soon be obsessed – and other brands as well. On the list are: shorter hemlines, colorful silk button-downs, men’s shirts and tailoring, anything lace, and retro embellished belts, styled here as “spice ups” on otherwise simple jersey dresses. “There’s a real personality and style to the collection,” Zadeh said. “It’s easy and wearable, but still special, because we’re mixing these strong basics with novelty accessories.” In the past, Zadeh has described that MNZ balance as “odd elegance”, and that’s still true for her eponymous label. Take notes everybody.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Like a Bird. Lee Mathews Resort 2021

If you still don’t know Lee Mathews, the Sydney-based designer making some of the most summer-perfect clothes out there, here’s a catch-up on her gorgeous resort 2021 collection. Birdwatching has become the unofficial hobby of lockdown era. Thanks to reduced air traffic, the trees outside of Mathews’s studio have become wildly populated with birds. There are no literal avians in her spring collection though – instead, the creative director followed their path to a sense of freedom, joy, and movement. Mathews’s structured dresses have even fuller skirts and poufier sleeves as a result. Pants have added legroom, too, from a jodhpur-like cargo pant to silky, wide-leg options. The danceability of these clothes was put to the test in a performance choreographed by Eliza Cooper and filmed by Martyn Thompson. Thompson, a photographer based in New York, is a longtime friend of Mathews’s. “The experience reconnected me with people I’ve known for a long time,” said Mathews of isolating in Sydney, “and something new is coming from it.” That willingness to collaborate and try something new is the best possible outcome of a world isolated and apart. “Having to collaborate outside your usual sphere to make things that resonate more is what will propel fashion forward,” Mathews told Vogue over a Zoom call. Brands much larger than hers should take note.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.