Baie des Anges. Celine sS22

Celine chose to present its spring-summer 2022 collection on Nice’s historic Promenade Des Anglais, a site which was built in the 18th century by the English aristocracy who took up a second home for their winter residence. The collection, entitled “Baie des Anges“, nodded to this historic setting, and was presented via a catwalk film, directed by Hedi Slimane himself, and starring Celine girls (including Kaia Gerber). Love it or hate it, this was a 100% Hedi collection. But one thing I’ve gradually started to appreciate about his Celine line-ups is their absolute timeless-ness and versatility. If you’ve got a striped shirt, a vintage black blazer, a pair of perfectly-fitting jeans and a cap, you can recreate pretty much every Celine collection from the last two years. However, at the same time, Slimane’s recent collections are just so undemanding design-wise and uniform that you start to wonder if they even need fashion shows. The main spring-summer 2022 image that stucks in your mind is the following: to the endlessly cool soundtrack of Can’s 1972 deep cut Vitamin C, the as always super-skinny models walk along the riviera, in their sharply tailored jackets paired with bralettes, bodycon sequin skirts and platform trainers. Sequins are a recurring theme throughout the collection – not only do they adorn a khaki loungewear hoodie and tracksuit co-ord, but also a figure-hugging, cowl-neck dress with a matching clutch bag, and golden pussybow shirts with bouffant sleeves, worn with knee-length jersey shorts. Hedi Slimane is no longer interested in shocking fashion moments – rather, he prefers to focus on proper wardrobe classics and the “too cool to care” styling.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Salt Water. House Of Aama SS22

House of Aama’s mother-daughter duo Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka describe their vision as “folkways, Black experience, timeless garments.” Their collections merge spirituality, craft, and pragmatism with signatures ranging from corduroy suits to soft pussy-bow blouses and Victorian dresses. But Henry and Shabaka aren’t just in it for the clothes; they’re as passionate about storytelling and sharing knowledge, particularly about the lesser-known histories of Black people in America. In 2017, they designed a collection in homage to Creole spirituality, largely influenced by Henry’s upbringing in Louisiana, and for their first official New York Fashion Week show, they recalled the beach towns that African Americans established in the early 1900s. Built along Midwest lakes and California coasts, the resorts were a joyful respite at a time when most beaches were not yet desegregated. In the fittingly tropical, low-key atmosphere of the Freehand Hotel, Henry and Shabaka’s spring-summer 2022 show nodded to that era with circle skirts, crochet tanks, scarf prints, and beachy stripes, with a retro playlist to match. The duo recut their halter dress in luminous charmeuse and their unisex jumpsuits got a nautical twist with sailor buttons and rope belts. Faded sweatshirts, silk shirts, and a “tattoo” mesh were printed with hand-illustrated ships and anchors as well as African deities and scenes from “Camp Aama,” the fictional resort Henry and Shabaka dreamed up as they designed. Henry proudly pointed out that the tattoo motif, along with every other print, fabric, and illustration, was custom-developed by their team in Los Angeles. It’s a significant point of difference for their brand; in 2021, it’s much more common for a young designer to purchase pre-made textiles. By creating everything from scratch, Henry and Shabaka guarantee a more personal, idiosyncratic touch in a market where so many collections look signature.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Air Flower. Susan Fang SS22

After a week-long blog pause caused by a major computer crash, I’m back! I planned to write about Susan Fang‘s enchanting spring-summer 2022 collection a week ago, but then my Mac’s hard drive went dead… luckily, it all ended well. Fang is a highly emotional designer in tune with the tenor of our times. Shown on a lightly misting runway in Shanghai back in October, the collection took texture to extreme and radical new places: she’s created a new material technique of folding tulle she calls “air flower” inspired by broken flowers and sliced fruits that repeats across the body in open-weave, netlike dresses, tightly latticed minis, and explosive, ombré poufs. The pieces are instantly appealing in both a visual way and in a sensory one, thoughtful to the bodies inside them and the observers taking them in. The exuberance and joy in each of Fang’s pieces belies an underpinning of sadness, though; like the best Dutch still life or memento mori, her frilly garments mark a passing of time or encapsulate the multiplicity of time itself. She quotes Einstein’s Dreams, a 2004 novel by Alan Lightman about the creation of the theory of relativity: “Suppose time is a circle, bending back on itself. The world repeats itself, precisely, endlessly.” Her work is almost precise, marked by engineering and repetition, but it’s never without a thoughtful touch. When she speaks about regenesis, self-love, and progress, you get the sense she operates in that special place between science and art. Place Susan Fang on your fashion radar!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Love Parade. Gucci SS22

Alessandro Michele‘s latest Gucci adventures are just beyond words. Going for extreme glamour after nearly two years of lockdown style is the best thing one can come up with for spring-summer 2022. But Michele pushed the envelope in festive dressing even further. Gucci’s name has long been linked with Hollywood, long before the upcoming “House of Gucci” film starring Lady Gaga, and its connection with the movies was everywhere you looked at Alessandro Michele’s fab fashion show. There, in the front row, was Gwyneth Paltrow, wearing an updated version of the Tom Ford-designed red velvet Gucci tux she sported circa 1996. And there, on the runway, were a dozen celebrity “friends of Gucci,” including Macaulay Culkin, Miranda July, Jodie Turner-Smith, Phoebe Bridgers and Jared Leto. The backdrop was the iconic Chinese Theater and Hollywood Boulevard itself – “that temple of the gods,” Michele called it. The designer credits his mother, a movie buff and an assistant in a production company, with encouraging his love of old Hollywood. But equally this collection was about contemporary Los Angeles, a place the designer first visited at the age of 27 and that he has much affection for. “LA is not a fashion city, but it’s so fashionable,” he said backstage before the show. “Sometimes they are not appropriate, but in being not appropriate they are so precise. Maybe it belongs to my way of looking at fashion – it’s personal.” When it was finally time to return to in-person shows after two seasons of the virtual experiences that lockdowns required, Los Angeles seemed the obvious choice. Seven years into his Gucci tenure, he’s presented in New York, Paris, Rome, and most often Milan, but Michele’s collections have never made more sense than this one did tonight on Hollywood Boulevard, with its neon lights and Walk of Stars. At the post-show press conference, Michele said he originally wanted to be a costume designer. He spent part of the day today at the freshly opened Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, where he admired a bow-covered Shirley Temple dress, among other pieces. On the topic of special occasion dresses, it’s fair to say he raised the bar for himself this season. With their cinematic sweep, if his gowns don’t make it to a museum, we’ll surely be seeing them soon on an awards show red carpet. With his hungry eye, he’s absorbed all manner of Hollywood tropes, and mixed in with the screen sirens were would-be stars fresh off the bus in calico dresses, with dreams as big as their 10-gallon cowboy hats. “My Hollywood is in the streets,” he said, and the sartorial-sporty mix of wide-lapeled jackets worn with brightly colored knit leggings and running sneakers did look lifted from real life, combining post-pandemic polish with the famous California ease. As for the sex-toy jewelry, and the erotic undercurrent of skintight latex and see-through lace, Michele reminded the press conference crowd that Gucci isn’t a “monarchy of bourgeois” like many of its heritage brand peers, but has its roots in the “jet-set, artists, and cinema.” As Madonna once sang, “you get it right now, cause you’re in Hollywood”…

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Ephemeral. Noir Kei Ninomiya SS22

For this collection, black is expressed through shadows,” said Kei Ninomiya in his spring-summer 2022 notes. “I wanted to express the ephemeral strength and beauty of things that are present around us although we cannot see them clearly.” The show was held in Aoyama, Tokyo, at the Commes des Garçons headquarters. Ninomiya has experimented with non-Noir color previously, most often via brilliant botanical worn installations that were absent today. Instead he expressed his notion of black’s shadow by creating a series of pieces in beige. The idea of something casting a paler shadow than itself implied a reversed polarity of some kind, and the paler procession of pieces did indeed mostly cover the still-breathtaking territory we have seen Ninomiya explore before. Sometimes, as in Look 15, they also looked to break new-for-Noir ground. Two more novelties were the use of woven hemp in rope-adjacent, wearable structures and the first written branding, beyond the garment label itself. The name of the brand was used to make rough white-on-black stripes and checks, which was fine enough on pants, shirts, and cycling shorts. When applied to a more sculptural piece, however, such as Look 9, this branding felt pretty extraneous. Noir Kei Ninomiya is a brand that doesn’t need logomania – those stunning, mushroom-y garments do the talking.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.