At Collina Strada, Hillary Taymour was in a celebratory mood (like many designers in New York seem to be). Hari Nef opened the show, wearing a dainty, lace-trimmed slip over wide-leg plaid trousers, her arms fluttering up and down like so many butterfly wings. Bedazzled on the front was the phrase “Got milkweed?,” an environmentally friendly take on the classic Got Milk? ad campaign of the ’90s, which also happened to be the name of the collection. Milkweed is the only plant monarch caterpillars will eat. Fittingly, the show took place at Brooklyn Greenway, a former cemetery turned monarch butterfly preserve that’s not open to the public. Taymour’s signature playfulness and Y2K influence were certainly present, but there was also a tender touch (some of the models wore extra-long braids that dragged on the floor behind them as they walked, like a Rapunzel that never had to cut her hair off to find freedom) and a mix of romanticism that resulted in some truly elegant eveningwear options. A floral lace–crocheted long-sleeve gown was worn underneath a structured bustier minidress with an exaggerated balloon skirt—a fantastic continuation of the exploration of panniers and bustles that Taymour has embarked on for the past few seasons. “I just feel like now that we’re a ‘trend,’ I really wanted to push it and be like, ‘We’re not just [sportswear],’” said Taymour after the show. “I can make these dresses for you and elevate it.” A carnation pink dress made from deadstock chiffon that hung from bent-wire flowers that attached to matching airbrushed pink breasts and nipples proved she could do both. She added, “I just wanted to push myself to do that.” Big cargos came in hand-drawn floral prints, crushed velvet, and even organza. Decorated jeans were part of a collaboration with Unspun, a company that 3D-scans the body in order to create made-to-order denim. She also debuted a collaboration with Virón featuring shoes made of upcycled materials, including ruffled velvet oxfords and chunky silver metallic boots, and a collaboration with Melissa on supercool and weird puffy sandals, which she paired with tiny satin ballerina-style socks that perfectly encapsulated the spirit of the collection. In the show notes, Taymour describes being inspired by “the butterfly’s symbolic cycle of life, death, and rebirth,” but with clothes like these, Collina Strada will thrive forever.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki. Don’t forget to follow Design & Culture by Ed on Instagram!
To create a responsible brand in the 2020s entails more than choosing sustainable materials and cutting down on manufacturing and shipping costs. As Gabriela Hearst, the creative director of Chloé sees it, building awareness into the marketing plan is part of the process. “The problems fashion has are the problems that all industries have,” she said. “The world’s energy supply is 85% from fossil fuels, and if we don’t eliminate that situation we’re really walking into suicide. All these alternate energy sources – wind power, solar panels – don’t have the capacity.” Fusion, Hearst explained, could make up the difference as we wean ourselves off of oil. “In a nutshell,” she said, “fusion is how stars are made. It’s the energy that moves the universe.” She promised “a much bigger experience of it,” at the Paris show in September. Here, the fusion lesson consisted of broderie anglaise and laser cut leather in the form of stars and a night sky palette of strictly black and white, save for a single red dress with a scoop neck and full poet sleeves. She credited Joel Cohen’s recent adaptation of The Tragedy of Macbeth for the corset shape of dresses accented with knotted leatherwork evocative of medieval chainmail, and leather jackets and vests patchwork paneled like armor. The novelties this season were twofold. First, she collaborated with Barbour, the British outerwear company renowned for its waxed jackets, on a trench ruffles details and on a poncho, a shape she has a soft spot for. The denim corset dress, duster coat, button-front vest, and a-line skirt are the results of a project Hearst dreamed up with the California jeans expert Adriano Goldschmeid. They’re composed of 87% recycled cotton and 13% hemp; that’s an earth-friendly equation. The only thing that Heart could work on – and that’s something she started last season – is her aesthetical direction for Chloé. Should this brand really be all about minimalism? Monastic and prim? There’s no need for another Jil Sander or The Row.
Marine Serre‘s dynamic autumn-winter 2022 collection made me realise she would do great at rejuvenating the Vivienne Westwood brand. Why? First, her devotion to upcycling, which has inspired the entire industry, goes in line with Westwood’s sustainability ethos. Second, the Parisian designer has that rough, defiant style that is real and keeps evolving with every season. And third: the way Serre used tartan checks (all from upcycled scarves and deadstock materials!) this season makes me think of some of the greatest 1990s collections coming from Vivienne.
Now back to Marine’s latest line-up. The serenity of the Marine Serre show photographs completely belie the mayhem of what was happening two floors below. Suffice it to say that young people in Paris will scramble and wait, packed uncomfortably together, to witness whatever Serre will do. It felt almost like a throwback to the hysteria of the underground French fashion scene that swirled around the likes of Jean-Paul Gaultier, Martin Margiela and Xuly.Bët two decades ago. If Serre is a female inheritor of what male designers did to deconstruct and democratize Paris fashion once upon a time, the big difference is how she delves far deeper into cultural and environmental ethics. Challenging the form of the fashion show is part of that. “What was important was to open the boundaries,” she said. “To show a different way to do a show. It was important to me that it was in a museum, to have something that shows the collective imagination. And to have something where people weren’t sure if there were going to be people walking, or where to sit or look.” The “museum” was a gallery of re-mastered old masters on the top floor. Each of them variously redirected, decolonized and replaced the original iconography to link up with Serre’s work. The first looks of the show were series of black and white lozenge and crescent-moon patterned recycled wool jacquard tailoring – they looked chic and polished. More themes came through: the above mentioned tartan scarves patchworked into tweed coats, collaged upcycled knits. Toile de Jouy quilted bed clothes and camouflage prints were turned into neatly-finished, attractive clothing. Serre is clearly focused on proving there’s nothing rough-and-ready about the second life she’s giving to pieces of defunct garments or deadstock. She’s intent on sharing how she does this. The need for transparency and education are other parts of her impressive worldview and drive to accelerate change in her generation. On the first floor of the building she had installed an atelier with members of her teams of sorters, cutters and sewers at work, demonstrating how her pieces are made. “I feel I have a responsibility to give access to this savoir faire,” she said, preternaturally calm in the eye of the swirling storm of guests. All weekend, she was planning to open the doors of the installations and exhibition to the public. “For free, you know?”
This was one of Acne Studios‘ strongest collections in a while. It had some very surprising turns (eveningwear!), it had an inspiring sustainability factor, and it somehow captured what fashion can be in turbulent times. But lets start from the beginning. When Jonny Johansson was a teenager still at school he lobbied his mother to get him some Levi’s 501s. Mrs. Johansson resisted, bought Swedish, and came back with two pairs of denim pants that she’d snagged from H&M for the same price as one pair of red tags. “She said this is the best choice,” Johansson sighed backstage. At the same time, however, Mrs. J also picked up a jacket which Jonny initially was not into – but which he decided to have a go at turning into something he liked. “It needed to be shortened and then I added a belt. I went into school wearing it, not knowing if people would notice it, or notice that it was home-made – which was not cool,” he said today. None of Johansson’s schoolmates reacted either way. Well, just look at him now. This collection leaned into Acne’s denim heritage in front of an influence-loaded audience with great effect. Upcycled patched denim paperbag skirts, an upcycled patched denim crini dress, and the opening look, a wide-leg garment dyed denim skirt, all paid homage to the single medium that was chiefly responsible for this multi-hyphenate success. Against this he played denim’s natural co-conspirator, leather, via a series of double-breasted trench coats reduced to slit-skirted armless dresses, sometimes also overdyed. Other notable elements included tuft-lined and sometimes-quilted regal blanket dresses in grandma florals, crystal embedded rib-kit socks over shoes, grungily faded jersey separates, layered fringed curtain dresses, and repeated returns to the post-Talking Heads boxy blazer in overdyed leather that was another early Acne signature. As tattered and ragged in its delivery as it was complete in its conception, this was an Acne collection that seemed more comfortable with itself than some of Johansson’s previous ventures. The show was accompanied by an original live performance by musician and composer Suzanne Ciani, a pioneer of electronic music who embraced the liberating technologies of synth to transform the way we listen to music today. As a last-minute change, the finale soundtrack reminded one of a war battleground rattle. The nomadic silhouettes walking on the elevated runway with these disturbing sound sensations in the background felt like a hopeful vision: in the end, the good overcomes the evil.
New York Fashion Week would make no sense without the energy of the city’s new-gen designers who fully embrace inclusivity, community and sustainability. This season, Collina Strada‘s Hillary Taymour showcased her exuberant and lively autumn-winter 2022 collection with a digital presentation, inviting the fashion set to experience its version of The Hills, entitled The Collinas. In the spoof, actor Tommy Dorfman makes her fashion week debut playing a twenty-something moving to New York City for a fashion internship at Collina Strada. Dorfman’s star turn was complemented by a large supporting cast: Rowan Blanchard, Marni’s Francesco Risso, Chloe Wise, Lynette Nylander, Jazzelle Zanaughtti, Ruby Aldridge, and Vogue’s Liana Satenstein – all friends of the brand. While the main character is rather clueless on how to actually do her job properly, she’s lovable with great taste – an aspect her peers can’t get enough of. The campy reality-TV pastiche wasn’t only entertaining and hilarious; it was a great background for Strada’s fabulous pleats, crushed velvet and metallic fabrics. Flashy colours and graphics inspired by 1970s psychedelic rock were mixed with genderless prom dresses and cargo pants made from upcycled materials. This season, Taymour evidentely entered her 2000s phase, and it’s working. Some ideas from spring 2022 carry over, like the Angel-printed tee and meshy layering pieces that have long been a staple. There is a low vibrating cake theme as well – Zanaughtti poses in a pageant ribbon top holding a pink cake; a pair of jeans were dyed using melted sprinkles. Chiffon is shredded to evoke feathers and studio detritus is cut into fringe. The eclecticism of Taymour’s earliest collections persists, and here we are with dozens of wearable and wantable garments that reflect the brand’s spirit.