Gabriela Hearst stays in her comfy zone of classics and basics. With long sleeves, high necklines, and midi lengths, the designer’s dresses are the soul of discretion. This season’s version is colorblocked in squares of red, yellow, and black bordered by white. The motif was inspired by Eileen Gray, an early 20th-century architect and furniture designer who was often overshadowed by her male peers. Hearst tends to nominate under-recognized women as seasonal muses – Gray spent her last 30 years living a quiet life. Then, decades after her death a chair of her design that belonged to Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé sold for $28 million, the highest price ever fetched for a piece of modern furniture. There was a real connection between Gray’s vocabulary and Hearst’s today. The furniture designer’s lacquered wood screens provided the template for bags made from interlocking squares of leather. And a famous photo of Le Corbusier in the buff at Gray’s house E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France, a large scar visible on his thigh, suggested the scarring effect seen on leather pieces. The slits cut into a burgundy trench flashed Mediterranean blue, while the ones on the burgundy strapless dress were fiery red. A pair of understated finale dresses with cut-outs on the sides from which metal panniers peeked out seemed to nod towards the chrome Gray used in her adjustable E-1027 table. She was the first to use the material, beating both Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe to the punch. Hearst was gesturing toward timelessness with this collection, which at moments felt simply… boring. It was rounded out with the minimal tailoring and robust cashmere knits for women and men that she’s known for, and a new collaboration with Tricker’s, the British shoemaker established in 1829. They’ll look smart with those knit midi dresses.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
In the absence of a New York Fashion Week show, the Proenza Schouler designers – Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough – made their first-ever book with the photographer Daniel Shea. Shot in August, it pairs expressive model shots with even more evocative images of the city: the skyline at sunset, the Empire State building seen through a tangle of power lines, a super-tall tower on Billionaires’ Row. It’s an ode to their hometown in a year when they’ve spent very little of their time in it. In the early months of the pandemic they were up at their place in the Berkshires. They spent March and April on Zoom business calls trying to figure out how to make it through this unprecedented situation. When they finally turned to their next collection, their normal processes weren’t possible: no research trip, no dips into their archive, no silhouette studies on a model. “All we walked into the studio with was a feeling. We wanted something that felt effortless and warm; we wanted to get rid of the sharp edges. It just had to make you feel good. For us that’s what fashion should be at its most successful. It should make one’s life easier and feel good,” Hernandez said. “A forever quality,” McCollough elaborated, “something that lasts.” There are decorative treatments for both night and day here; allover sequins cover a straight-line shirtdress, and the shoulders of a button-down shirt and waistline of button-fly trousers are graphically dip-dyed. But the big story is really the attitude adjustment; without being boring the clothes feel simpler than what they’ve put on their recent runways. They emphasized easy-to-wear ribbed-knit separates and dresses, and stripped any artifice from their tailoring, which is just slightly oversized and mannish save for the suits’ soft pastel colors. Putting the accent on silhouette, they made a dress with a choker collar, a cut-out asymmetrical neckline, and voluminous sleeves, then cut the drama with puffy slippers. Those flat shoes are a key to the season’s new mood, a timely nod to our more circumscribed lifestyles and the renewed value that women are placing on comfort. It’s looking more and more like we’ll be staying homebound well into 2021. The collection’s knockout dress in stretch jersey with circular cut-outs on the bodice will be similarly comfortable, but the reason that women will really respond to it is because it looks like a guaranteed good time.
Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.
Haider Ackermann‘s AW14 perfection.
Of course, Haider Ackermann has many things to look back at this decade: his Berluti stint, all the custom looks he created for Tilda Swinton and Timothee Chalamet for their red carpet appearances, every single menswear and womenswear collection he presented… but there’s one line-up I will never forget. The autumn-winter 2014 collection. That time, Ackermann utterly seduced with his sensual silhouette, garbed in contrasting cuts and volumes. Some of the garments were built for street (biker jackets, mannish jackets, comfy cardigans, skinny cropped jeans), others were decidedly more refined (floor-sweeping duster coats, oversized trousers, draped jersey dresses, and plunging tops, all sent out in autumn-ish, masculine fabrics – tweeds, plaids, houndstooth, flannel, fur and felt galore). A poised, poetically dark allure.
Haider Ackermann‘s spring-summer 2020 was about combining sensuality with tailoring – a sort of art that the designer mastered to perfection. The waist was a big focus of his new season line-up. Men and women both got midriff-spanning leather belts, and other times Ackermann knotted a jacket at the hips with a casual flourish. It looked especially compelling in the case of a jacket lined in vintage kimono silk. But if anything, this was a less androgynous collection than usual, due to the work the designer did with plissé bands of color, wrapping and twisting them around female torsos in a style reminiscent of Madame Grès. The tops, that are actual ribbons of fabric, are daring, just as the jumpsuits with the bumster-low cut-out detail in back. Bella Hadid and Adut Akech’s plissé bandeau dresses are highlights. The women’s and men’s show featured as well an ensemble first worn by Timothée Chalamet at the Venice Film Festival: a dove gray lapel-less suit in technical nylon with a flash of aqua blue at the hem. The belted tuxedo in the same pale shade with a liquid silk top underneath Chalamet wore not a while ago also appeared on the runway, styled in a slightly different way. Ackermann never disapoints.
No fashion show this time, but a peaceful, tranquil showroom presentation accompanied with a look-book starring Saskia De Brauw. That’s how Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen reply to New York’s fashion week fuss. Oh, the clothes. The Row is heavenly. Majestic. Angelic. But don’t think of any opulent embroideries or ornamental details, no. Rather, a voluminous dove-gray silk dress. Tweedy coat with the frayed edges. Robe-like gowns with regally upturned collars. All hand-made, kept in the highest possible quality of craftsmanship. Those garments don’t look still and statuesque, but flowing. I’m absolutely in love with this one look where a huge bag works as layer of clothing worn over a minimal, sleeveless dress. Editors tend to say that clients who adored Phoebe Philo’s Céline should go to The Row. Well, I wouldn’t go that path of logic. The Olsen twins gradually create their own vocabulary, that is less and less Philo-esque. They finally create distinct clothing that speaks for itself; it says ‘The Row’, not ‘Philo appreciation sample’. Also, a big shoutout to The Row’s new menswear line that launches in October. Mostly with a Made in Japan tag, the men’s garments (just a few preview images were released) will be as exquisite as the women’s. The price range, that starts from $4,000, speaks for itself as well.