Growing. Cecilie Bahnsen Resort 2021

Being a small label, even an established one, might be even more nerve-wracking in the uncertain nearly-post-corona times, than when the pandemy striked in the beginning of spring and the whole population was equally confined and paralysed by the new reality. Just think of Sies Marjan, the New York-bsed brand designed by Sander Lak that seemed to thrive in its five-year existence, and then suddenly closed just a few days ago – due to the crisis. But then, not all young brands seem to be totally doomed. Cecilie Bahnsen, for instance, has a very distinct, signature product – her dreamy, ethereal cloudy-puffy dress – which has organically built a fandom around her small Danish label. She even released a resort 2021 look-book, something many labels quit or have delays with. And the idea behind this collection shows just how much the designer has grown and reconsidered her brand. Using 100% upcycled fabrics from previous collections – a response to lockdown limitations – Bahnsen created corseted and peplumed dresses and tops decked out with lace, as well as witchy black coats and jackets. Other pieces combine patchworks of quilting, embroidered organza, and sheer silk faille. One of the most dynamic looks in the collection was a canary yellow frock with a spliced-up cable-knit sweater and a caged floral overlay on the skirt. Another was a hybridized white sweater top and dress featuring no fewer than five different fabrics from Bahnsen’s archive. Moreover, the designer plans to continue experimenting with upcycling and will release smaller, monthly capsule collections made entirely from stockpiled fabrics under the name Encore. This month’s features not just dresses but also blankets and pillows. Speaking from her studio in Copenhagen, Bahnsen told Vogue she’s focused on accessibility: “I want the dresses and everything else to be worn in the streets, not just during special occasions. This was a creative challenge, as I normally work very clean and don’t like to mix too much. But I knew there were a lot of ideas hidden in these old fabrics, and I needed to reflect on them, to maybe be less precious and to give them new value.” Two take-aways from this small capsule: Bahnsen has a distinct point of view and it was satisfying to see her play around with it a bit more freely, mashing things up and giving new life to unused materials.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Happy Earth Day!

Andreas Kronthaler + Vivienne Westwood autumn-winter 2017.

Happy Earth Day! It really should be everyday.

As Vivienne Westwood repeats: “Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity.” Support local businesses and artisans, recycle, reuse, spread awareness. Every (even small) action makes a change and helps support our planet and environment!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Assemblage. Marni AW20

While the topic of sustainability seems to be utterly dormant in Milan, at least you’ve got Marni‘s Francesco Risso that takes some steps in order to address it. The collection used what appeared to be fragments of existing garments: take the cardigan dresses created from several different pieces of knitwear, each element linked with the crude stitchery of a child in a craft workshop. The remnant scraps produced in their manufacture, Risso noted, had been regenerated to create smaller elements such as the purses shaped like Victorian carpetbags or the old-fashioned wrestlers’ shoes. Risso described the effect as DIY, and the deliberate naivete continued with the magnificent finale pieces made using scraps of humble cotton fabric patchworked together with shards of cut velvet woven by hand in a factory in Venice on looms that were originally designed by Leonardo da Vinci – a vanishing, time-consuming craft that Risso understandably wants to “protect and exalt.” “They are basically our new furs,” he said of these precious garments. The collection, as the designer explained, was “collaged from the beginning to the end – from macro to micro to fractal. It’s about putting together remnants.” Julien d’Ys gold and silver dust make-up and lacquered hair on the models added even more spark to Risso’s wearable assemblage. Gorgeous.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Sustainability (For Real). Gabriela Hearst AW20

Gabriela Hearst’s autumn-winter 2020 line-up was beautiful. And it managed to be really sustainably made, without making a fuss about it. For Hearst, enviroinment is a priority. And she can translate that passion into luxurious, softly minimal, super high quality clothes. Antique remnants of Turkish rugs were puzzled together in outerwear pieces lined with cashmere. The hand-made knitwear was done by Manos Del Uruguay, the non-profit cooperative female artisans, and Magdalena Koluch, a New York-based knitter – the multi-colored, fringed poncho is one of the many gorgeous results that came from this collaboration. Existing pieces of cashmere outerwear were deconstructed and re-assembled with blanket stitch creating a fantastic colour block pattern. Most of the used wools in this collection were re-printed and reused to create new pieces. Gabriela and her team really pushed the envelope this season in terms of sustainable fashion and creating out of waste products, and simultaneously made it look refined. Just see the biscuity, cashmere corduroy tailoring or the flowing eveningwear. Delightful!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Close To Nature Wherever You Are. Phipps AW20

The American brand named Phipps might not be the most “Parisian” and “fashion” of them all. But Spencer Phipps seems not to care. More importantly, since starting his label few years ago, he has been seriously devoted to sustainability (before it was “thing” for the industry). This season’s “Treehugger: Tales of the Forest” collection caught everyone by surprise with a collaboration that has to be Smokey Bear. Even the authorities at the U.S. Forest Service were perplexed at first, the designer said. But once the deal was signed, Phipps had decades of archives to riff on: Smokey turned 75 last year. Despite teen-camping nostalgia and authentic lumberjack style  – one of the models was, in fact, a lumberjack! – the designer noted that this collection was “a big step up in terms of luxury.” Placing a concern for nature within the luxury space is a serious challenge. To get there, Phipps said he tried to focus on suiting in a very smart way, sourcing cloth in northern England and paying close attention to details such as linings and buttons. He also used Steiff (the teddy bear brand) materials for sweatshirts and embellishment. “It’s biodegradable, very artisanal, and it has a luxury appeal,” he mentioned. “It’s not faux fur made from plastics. It’s a more traditional way of working.” Another favourite: the forest shaman spirit behind the huge blankets worn as shawls and whimsy, wooden “accessories”. Phipps’ commitment to slow fashion also prompted him to introduce what he’s calling his “gold label” – a range of curated vintage pieces, embellished and elevated to “treasure items” with a stylized gold star or forest ranger patches. That studied mashup included market-found jeans and flannels, heirloom pieces, and even a pair of jeans Phipps’s mom made back in the 1970s. “I’m just focusing on the lifestyle of sustainability. I’m not making you a new plaid shirt because there are so many out there already, and they’re beautiful,” the designer said. If only the big brands got the memo…

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.