Just Drive. Marine Serre AW23

Nothing is created. Everything is transformed. To love is to repair. It must be simple. We are repaired, we are reused… We are restitched, we are re-embroidered…”. So went the poem – written by Marine Serre – at the beginning of her public-facing autumn-winter 2023 fashion show. In the heavily light-produced outing, Serre systematically set about showing what she could do with deadstock materials. The first eight looks or so were crafted from the totes, and included the cropped jacket silhouette that would ricochet across the collection. The next set was denim, and featured Caroline Issa who wore a siren silhouette denim dress with Serre’s new moon breast inserts. Other looks featured jewelry fashioned from upcycled cutlery. Then we pivoted to motorcycling gear, recycled. Although the motocross trend is widespread (all thanks to Rosalia’s seismic success of Motomami), Serre is a designer who owns that aesthetic, regardless if it’s trending or not. Next we hit knit: Look 20, on a proudly body-positive model, featured a patchwork “lozenge” knit fashioned from 15 or so pullovers. After that were upcycled or chemical-free processed leather looks which sometimes came with some pulled-pile knit trims that understandably set their models in unplanned directions when used as face coverings. A series of sophisticatedly faux-sophisticated moon monograph pieces followed. We were getting to the climax now, building tension with a swathe of house moiré looks interspersed with tapestry topped couture shapes and reclaimed upholstery fabrics. Then a series of pieces fashioned from strips of material, specifically scarfs, that were amongst the most compelling here. This was another highly effective and affecting collection from Serre.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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The Society Archive

New collections come and go, but in the end, nothing feels as good as the timelessness of vintage. The Society Archive, a stylist-curated retailer of rare vintage finds from fashion and accessories to books and art, opened its by-appointment showroom during New York Fashion Week, and it seemed to be the most truly exciting event during these hectic couple of days. But The Society Archive isn’t just about selling vintage. The brainchild of the runway and editorial stylist Marcus Allen, the brand weaves a complex narrative capturing moments of past youth – the result being an extremely covetable time capsule of seasonally curated selections of vintage and ephemera paired with a curated edit of must-haves from The Society Archive’s capsule collection of designs. Hard-to-find pieces from pretty much every decade are hand-selected and styled together with a couple of in-house designed essentials, creating a cohesive collection. According to this Vogue feature, Allen especially has a long history with Abercrombie & Fitch. The stylist estimates he has more than 1,000 items, some of which date back to the 1960s. Allen worked at the infamous “all-American” mall brand when he was in high school in a small town outside of Boston. But his obsession boils down to the quality of yesteryear Abercrombie & Fitch, not its ethos that’s promoted today. “The technical and fleece vests are all Patagonia-level quality,” he says. “All of the distressing and vintage details are super authentic and not contrived-feeling at all.” Allen is not the only collector; there is a community of Abercrombie & Fitch archivists in Japan, which is primarily where he gets his pieces. “While runways were informing what mall brands were doing design-wise, they – A&F, etc. – were not skimping on the quality of the pieces.” He makes the comparison with a pair of jeans. “I have 5-pocket leather Gap bootcut jeans that are the same exact quality and cut of a pair of Tom Ford-era Gucci ones,” he says. And as a testament to the quality, currently, Allen keeps the first piece he ever bought, a multi-color striped Shetland wool sweater in his freezer.

So, what can you get from The Society Archive’s current capsule? First of all, some big styling ideas for autumn season – the look-book photos are just too inspiring! There’s The Face’s iconic issue 22 featuring Kate Moss photographed by Corinne Day. A vintage Banana Republic t-shirt which has the best imaginable fit. A couple of 1960s flannel shirts – to die for. Maybe a classic, over-sized A&F hoodie? I certainly need these beige snow pants, like now.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Future Vintage. Stella McCartney SS23

One of the best collections in Paris was delivered by Stella McCartney, who very smartly sensed the vintage world’s growing obsession with her time at Chloé and her super-hot, kitschy-chic, chaotic-good 2000s collections. The spring-summer 2023 show, presented in front of Centre Pompidou, opened with tweaked reissues of McCartney’s gold chain tops from her Chloé spring 2000 collection worn under super-sized blazers with asymmetrical skirts and net stockings. Amber Valletta didn’t wear the draped gold chain top she originally modeled with white denim hot pants in that same show (someone else did, with an added white tank top underneath), but she wear a tailored jumpsuit like the one Raquel Zimmermann had in McCartney’s eponymous spring 2009 show. The Hadids brought the noughties nostalgia full circle: Gigi in a sculpted cargo suit that echoed McCartney’s Savile Row days; Bella in a shrunken vest and low-riding trousers with rhinestone-encrusted cut-outs around the hips. While at Chloé, McCartney’s influence on the era was so vast that you might wonder why the brand’s current custodian, Gabriela Hearst, hasn’t mined those archives already. Honestly, a crime. Asked if it feels weird to see her own work revived in such a big way, McCartney sighed. “It makes me feel extremely old! My daughter, who’s 15, all she does now is go into my closet and take all my original things. And I’m like, ‘Oh, but I make similar things now.’ She’s not interested. She just wants the ’90s.” Nostalgia wasn’t, however, the driving force behind McCartney’s choice to adapt and reissue these pieces. The Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara was. She used his depictions of children as motifs on garments, and focused the collection around his slogan, “Change the History.” “I want to look back at my history and redefine where I started and where I am now and what the next Stella looks like,” said McCartney, explaining her trip down memory lane. For her, of course, that transition has everything to do with sustainability. She re-evoked the 2000s through the finest technology the 2020s have to offer: garments in regenerative bio-diverse cotton that “encourages nature”; shoes in plant-based materials like faux leather made out of grape skins; bags in mycelium mushroom leather; and rhinestone pieces created without animal glues and solvents. In a season that’s seen desperate nostalgia plunges, like Dolce & Gabbana reviving their Y2K archives with the help of Kim Kardashian, McCartney’s reenergizing of the fashion history she helped shape in such a big way felt both ethically and epically right.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Fusion Rave. Chloé SS23

Gabriela Hearst went for a more laid-back look for Chloé‘s spring-summer 2023 collection. Her sustainability-forward ambitions, however, aren’t taking a rest. Hearst dedicated her latest offering for the Parisian maison to the promotion of fusion: “It’s basically the energy of the stars and the universe,” she said, flanked by representatives from ITER as well as Commonwealth Fusion Systems and Helion – companies which are working on harnessing this benign source of energy through giant round devices known as tokamaks. They can’t be used to produce a fashion collection, but, as Hearst said, “Eventually they will, because we’ll need the energy to make clothes. Imagine that whatever is a coal plant now will be a fusion plant in the future. The future is close.” She arranged the seats of her show to mimic the circular shape of the tokamak and surrounded the structure with hoops hanging from the ceiling and laser lights that evoked an industrial rave. That feeling reverberated through a collection that served as a figurative ode to fusion power, adapting the curves of the tokamak into silhouettes and surface decoration that looked part power plant uniform and part retro warehouse party. “The most important thing you need to know is that this is a source of clean energy with very little waste. A glass of fusion fuel can power a house for approximately 800 years,” Hearst said. All that sounded promising. But what about the actual clothes? I feel like the designer still has a problem in establishing her signature Chloé look. Knitted dresses with cut-outs created from recycled cashmere and blazers constructed in linen could use some rigor in their cut. Utilitarian outfits in head-to-toe certified European leather had the trending “Motomami” vibe that felt slightly out of place in Chloé’s lexicon. There was a coat with metal fastenings, made from recycled cotton that looked like denim, fully adorned with heavy-duty eyelets. In this spectrum of ideas, the concept of “fusion” was quite visible. Hearst needs a more bold, stylist-like approach to truly make her collections appealing in the future.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Big Things. Diesel SS23

The energy at Diesel‘s spring-summer 2023 fashion show was… big. The brand’s creative director, Glenn Martens, claimed that the four inflatable human figures that straddled both each other and the middle of the monumental runway had been certified by Guinness World Records as the largest ever recorded. It was difficult to get an overview, but from my angle they appeared erotically intertwined. That Martens’s invitation came for the second season in a row accompanied by a sex toy – this time a big glass butt plug – further stimulated suspicion that this was their position. Another big statement was the number of people who could attend the show: about 3,000 people had bagged their free tickets online, while a further 1,600 were reserved for students. Most of the 200-ish remaining were there to work or influence. Since his first season at Diesel, Martens has been charged with revitalizing and democratizing Diesel. Fittingly enough, this is partially driven by Renzo Rosso’s ambition to take his company public. Whatever the motivation, this stadium show was powerful evidence of Diesel’s new audience.

Martens said the collection was divided into four chapters: denim, utilitywear, “pop,” and “extravaganza.” He added: “This is my recipe for Diesel; the four ingredients that I insist upon. Because this is only my second show here, and I think we need to keep showing it.” He said one overlying characteristic of the collection was distress: “All of the pieces are ‘imperfect’ through treatment and design. This is something I like, but it also goes back to that democratic instinct. We know Diesel is a brand for anyone who wants to relate, whoever they are, however they feel; everyone is individual and no two people are the same. Plus the piece is supposed to look ‘broken’ so that you can live with it forever – it is unbreakable.” Diesel’s denim expertise was on full display in this offering. It came layered in tulle, interwoven with lace and organza, or spliced into corsetry. The washes and treatments were manifold: Encrusted with croc-print overlays, reverse-sun-faded, garment-dyed into multiple colors. There was denim jersey and knit denim and flocked denim and fringed denim. Utilitywear included a two-tone olive bomber-and-pants menswear look and a long washed cargo dress, plus a series of nomadically postindustrial ragtag jersey ensembles – streetwear for the postapocalypse. Pop delivered acid-toned racer-back or spaghetti-strap minidresses sometimes garlanded with florals and contrast-colored lace. There was a hilarious black leather moto ensemble that seemed like it had previously been made to fit two wearers at once – back to those conjoined figures – before the second wearer had cut himself free to escape. Martens’s Velcro-fastened strap miniskirt returned in silver, as risky as before. A frayed logo jersey tank top and boob tube – both logo-printed and worn over some trompe l’oeil double-bonded denim pieces in black – signaled the extravaganza. This included two exploded bouclé coats made from torn and tufted Diesel-print fabric and a final, triumphantly tattered house-logo-print skirt south of a trucker.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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