Wasteless Fashion Is Not A Myth. Duran Lantink AW21

They say that fashion will never be 100% sustainable. A brand can do its best to keep things eco-friendly, but in the end, clothes are still being produced. But Duran Lantink‘s method proves the industry that there’s a revolutionary (and very witty) way of making fashion as wasteless as possible. His upcycling methods – repurposing unsold designer-label clothes in his pioneering, cheeky way – date back to 2013, but only now seem to fully resonate with a wider audience. Autumn-winter 2021 season is the designer’s first (of course digital) fashion show collection. “Basically, during lockdown, I had time to work with my assistant, Thibault, on all the materials I had left over from collaborations with stores and brands, and to come up with this, our first runway collection.” Thibault is in the show, wearing, in one of his exits, a swishing lemon yellow dress that is reconstructed from another dress which had been left over from Lantink’s collaboration with Ellery last year. The point was to give him free rein to recycle and give new life to their unsold inventory. Lantink pointed out to Vogue how he’s unpicked, restyled, and refashioned multiple piles of clothes lying around his studio which “used to be” garments by Balmain, Balenciaga, Prada, Proenza Schouler, Vetements, Marine Serre, and many more. “In the beginning, we started with stores to see how we could work with their deadstock to see how we could stop their clothes going into landfill. And that was the beginning of thinking how we could create a completely new form of business.” The collection is like an aethetical 2000s-style remix of sexy revealing, sparkle and sharp minimalism. There’s a zigzaggy sparkly dress – one breast out – remade from something unsold from Balmain, and naked illusion half-dresses sewn onto stretchy body pieces. A flash of a diamanté thong (made from recycled materials) is homage to Tom Ford’s Gucci 1997 moment, but with a Duran Lantink logo planted in the crucial place. Yet Lantink has also now come up with an ingenious plan for extending the buzzy fashion “moment” so that it can morph into potentially infinite new shapes for his followers. He announced the launch of a service on his new direct-to-wearer website. “When you’re fed up with something, you can click on two tabs. One, where you can resell. On the other, we will work with you to remake what you have to become whatever you like. So a coat can become a dress. A dress can become a shirt. A shirt can be trousers. Whatever you want!” People who are up for engaging with Lantink’s process are destined to be the happy recipients of fully documented online records of where their clothes originated, and how they’ve been altered over time: a personalized archive. That redefinition of being able to love and re-love clothes in a never-ending cycle restyled by a designer is something truly, truly innovative.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Très Cool. Lacoste AW21

Louise Trotter‘s sustainable-meets-chic-meets-smart vision of Lacoste keeps on delivering with every season. Lacoste has the benefit of being a brand at the nexus of athleisure and luxury, offering pieces that are at once trop sportif and trop française. That’s a clutch position for a fashion house in these times. It also has the benefit of the well-dressed Trotter at its helm. She is the woman in a slouchy polo, mannish trousers, white sneakers, and aviator glasses that makes you pinch yourself in a jealous rage when you pass her on the street or are seated next to her at a dinner. Someone who is calmly unstudied, comfortable, and totally not try-hard. Suffice to say, Trotter has long understood the benefits of generous, easy-to-wear clothing with arty touches in the form of a funny, albeit small, graphic or the juxtaposition of sorbet colors. So when it came time to design Lacoste’s second collection of the lockdowns, she knew exactly what to do: “Capture the active lifestyle that we share today and that blurs between home life, work, and play.” The backbone of Trotter’s autumn-winter 2021 offering is Lacoste’s famous piqué cotton, cut into lively hued polos, but also groovy tracksuits and cardigans. Some are intarsia’d with crocodile claws and flaming tennis balls – sort of silly patterns Trotter found in the brand’s archive. They are all, she notes, unisex – as is almost everything else in the collection. If the varsity jackets and cool puffers read a little on-the-nose in terms of branding, Trotter’s continuation of spring 2021’s upcycled and collaged windbreakers, trousers, and coats offer a more cerebral take. The Lacoste archive is rich with both heritage inspirations and unused or vintage materials; Trotter has married them nicely in these upcycled pieces. They will pair well with the collection’s piqué tracksuits and cartoon colored pool slides. That’s exactly how Trotter would wear them. In a time when everyone is questioning how to dress, a sure-footed and stylish creative director with a singular vision is a good guide.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Re-Signification. Valentino Pre-Fall 2021

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.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Cocteau And Coco. Chanel Resort 2022

Virginie Viard‘s Chanel is like a sinusoid – one time it’s bizarrely unedited and clumsy, and then it’s fantastically light and super chic. Her resort 2022 has both, although the latter fortunately prevails. The fashion show was a digital, cultural trip, where the clothes worked really well. Viard sought inspiration in Provence, the most beautiful region in the south of France lapped by the marshy Camargue and crowned by the hills of Les Baux-de-Provence, considered one of the area’s loveliest villages. Specifically, she set the collection in the Carrières de Lumières (Quarries of Light) in Les Baux, a series of chalky, cave-like rooms – the spaces left behind after centuries of excavations. In 1960, however, Jean Cocteau – the artist, poet, and filmmaker who cast a long shadow across the worlds of culture and style in 20th century France – used these quarries as a setting for his hauntingly beautiful movie The Testament of Orpheus. It’s “so modern, so fresh, and so strong,” says Viard, who watched the movie, which features Cocteau himself, with cameos from his lover Jean Marais, Pablo Picasso, and Yul Brynner, among others, as she began working on the season. “The movie really inspired the collection,” Viard added. “When I came to see the quarry again – I’d been years ago, before it was used for the son et lumiere – I saw that the clothes had to be strong, and black and white. Otherwise we could be in Petra or Egypt. I love ruffles for the couture,” she continued, “but I thought it would not look modern here. Coco Chanel counted Jean Cocteau amongst her intimates; he produced some evocative portraits of her and illustrations of her clothes, and in turn she costumed productions of his plays AntigoneOrpheus, and Oedipus Rex. The friends would often hang out in Chanel’s daytime apartment on the Rue Cambon, and Viard was excited to read the letters that Cocteau sent to Chanel. The apartment has recently emerged from an extensive restoration, and Viard sought inspiration in the very personal bestiary that Chanel assembled there: The lions for that famous Leo, camels, doves of peace, fauns, and the female sphinxes that all appear in objects and sculptures in the apartment have been reimagined as graphic prints on denim with a hand-painted look, and as lucky charms used as embroidery in the new collection.

In this cocktail of references, Viard as well worked with both Mod and Punk references: striking black and white miniskirts, suits and coat dresses trellised with window pane blocks of small concrete beads, and styling flourishes like fishnet stockings had a Mod sensibility. Accessories including zippered leather holster belts worn at the waist or thigh, handbag chain suspenders, and dog collars read as Punk, as did details like the rock and roll leather fringing on a shimmy dress, and the raw finishing used to hem the skirts and cuffs of caviar tweed suits and crochet minidresses (a Jean Cocteau sketch of a 1920s fringed Chanel dress was the starting point for these designs). The late Stella Tennant’s patrician Punk attitude inspired the lip piercing jewelry, as did Ines and Vinoodh’s photographs of the model Lola in Chanel’s apartment; Viard was thinking of a memorable Mario Testino image of Tennant dressed as a punk with her ball-gowned grandmother, the Duchess of Devonshire, at Chatsworth, her family’s storied stately home. Meanwhile the graphic suits—with a new jacket silhouette featuring a bloused body and fitted peplum—were drawn with the definite lines of Cocteau’s ink brush and pen drawings. There was more softness in the collection in ivory lace dresses scattered with embroidered good luck charms, and wide-legged, high-waisted white linen pants and cotton sweatshirting dresses embroidered with the wild flowers of Provence – lavender, thyme, Cosmos daisies, ranunculus, blue felicia, and scabious, among others. The only colors in the collection appear in 100% sustainable tweeds created by the embroiderer Lesage in what Viard described as a “Cézanne” palette, and used for skimpy, rough-fringed minisuits. For the finale, the short black velvet dresses, each worn with crochet and macramé capes, provided a theatrical flourish of which Cocteau would surely approve. And there’s a pragmatic reason for all those white ankle boots: “It’s better not to have a long black dress or black shoes if you are walking in a quarry all day!” confided Viard with a laugh.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Contrasts Are Sexy. Saint Laurent AW21

Anthony Vaccarello’s autumn-winter 2021 Saint Laurent collection was all about contrasts: luxury and kitsch, polished and raw, elegance and trash. There was even a stark contrast between the sultry clothes the designer delivered and the (rather very) windy runway venue. Against the most jaw-dropping of backdrops (of what looked like Iceland), with ice glaciers, crashing waves, and a volcanic, black beach, Vaccarello’s girls, looking like badass rock chicks, are shown striding as if on some fantastic odyssey. “When I was thinking about this collection, I had this place in mind, like a movie director,” Vaccarello said on a call to preview his collection. “It’s the idea of a girl in a landscape where she doesn’t belong. I knew I wanted a wintry location,” he went on to say, “one which showed how strong nature is; how we are really nothing next to it, how ephemeral we are. It’s not a place where anyone is going skiing, but Saint Laurent should do something that’s like a dream: What the F?! Why is she there?” The question of why this winter’s Saint Laurent woman is indeed there is left hanging somewhere in the movie’s moody overcast skies. Every season Vaccarello’s exploration of the YSL archive has a welcome air of mystery to it; there has never been any literal, first-degree rehashing of the back catalog’s greatest hits on his watch. This time round, he was drawn to Monsieur Saint Laurent’s classically elegant mid ’60s tailleurs rendered in menswear fabrics. He ratcheted up the cool factor by cutting the jackets lean and sinuous and then matching the length of their hems to his very-mini-skirts. Then he swapped out Saint Laurent’s then preferred monochromatic palette with a fabulously opulent and in your face array of violet, cobalt, gold, and chartreuse: “It’s the shapes of the ’60s with the colors of the ’80s,” Vaccarello said by way of explanation. Finishing the looks off, he slipped gleaming metallic stretch bodysuits or the tiniest of leather miniskirts under the tailoring. Then he loaded up on the bijoux – chandelier earrings, strasse bracelets, and chokers with a four-leaf-clover motif, something else sourced from the archive. It would be remiss not to mention the ultra-long leather boots or the wickedly pointy metal-tipped heels. Watching Mica Argañaraz navigate a stony cliff edge in them gives a whole new meaning to the appellation “rock goddess.” Also, she really seemed not to care for the cold, breezy wind. “I am doing things for the present; I don’t know what the future will be,” said Vaccarello on the subject of re-emergence fashion. “I want Saint Laurent to be more light and playful, but… it’s not just about going out to bars and parties. Life can’t just be when it’s bad we are all in black and pajamas and when it’s good we are in slutty dresses. After the last couple of years we can’t just go back, otherwise we will lose what we all lived through.” In other words, when you helm a house which has long had a reputation for both exuberance and chicness, how do you take it forward in a very big world? You let the fashion fly, but also keep it down to earth. “Fashion should be something you don’t take too seriously,” he continued. “Especially now, when nothing is really necessary. It’s good to laugh about life.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.