Land Of Dreams. Ralph Lauren SS23

Sometimes, we just want something stable and lasting in the world where everything changes so instantly and abruptly. That’s Ralph Lauren‘s allure, which seems to be going through a sort of renaissance in the last couple of seasons. Over the years, Lauren has shown us his New York – a show in Central Park, the café society show presented at his uptown store, the swanky supper club he erected near Wall Street and last season’s soignee affair at MoMA. While there’s no denying he’s a New Yorker through and through, nothing gets the creative juices flowing quite like a case of wanderlust. And so the designer looked farther afield for spring-summer 2023. Specifically to Southern California – shockingly, the first time he’s shown here. He could have gone anywhere he pleased, but Lauren landed on an unexpected choice – the Huntington Library, a museum and botanical garden just northeast of Los Angeles proper, founded in 1919 by an industrialist family that made their fortunes in railroads and real estate. It was against the museum’s Mediterranean Revival style facade that Lauren presented his vision to his Hollywood pals – Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck, Diane Keaton, Laura Dern, John Legend, to name but a few. The cushioned loungers and twilight cocktail hour set the tone – this was California casual, done the Ralph way. “California has always been a land of dreams and contradictions – rugged coasts and red carpets,” he said in his show notes. You could sense that those contrasts fascinate him. “For the first time ever,” he continued, “I bring my dream of living here, sharing my worlds in an experience that celebrates a way of life I have always believed in – a mix of grit and glamour, energy and inspiration.” In his six-decades-long career, there’s nothing in the American psyche that Lauren hasn’t addressed in some way. And yet, the West and its mythos, has been particularly transfixing. So it’s not surprising that he found ways to wring out new insights from archetypes and codes that he’s explored before.

The show opened with a trim, wheat-colored suit worn with an oversized cowboy hat, a Western belt, and antique-style jewelry. The effect was confident and assured – a mix of the urbane and rugged, of masculine and feminine. Floral-pattern bias-cut prairie dresses fluttering atop cowboy boots followed, adding a demure touch, while fringed knits became oversized cardigans or wrap skirts, imparting gravitas. Men, meanwhile, wore dusky denim suits, evoking the hardscrabble dignity of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, or, alternately, looked like suave frontiersmen of classic Hollywood westerns, the models tipping their hats and winking at audience members as they strutted by. The show shifted through different modes, first came looks in an easy key: breezy pleated pants worn with louche white button-ups, preppy sweaters tied around the neck, tennis shorts paired with a creamy brown turtleneck, a shimmering gold safari suit, all imbued with a sense of offhanded elegance. Next, it moved into a more eclectic, youthful beat: madras patchwork mixed with tailoring, athletic gear mixed with prep, polo shirts atop ball gowns or maillots worn with billowing nylon floor length skirts. Lauren seemed to be shaking off the formality of the East Coast, embracing the outdoorsy lifestyle of Los Angeles. It was a looser, freer collection, one that was a snapshot of the breadth and variety of the American style idiom (the wonderful casting of various ages and ethnicities helped tell that story beautifully). Instead of the normal final walk, the enormous cast came out and lined the stairs as Lauren, smiling, took his bow.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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A Fine Edit. Victoria Beckham AW21

It’s the official start of fashion month, which of course won’t be the usual, hectic marathon we know from the pre-COVID times. Look-books and videos are here to stay, and much less brands will show in the traditional schedule. New York Fashion Week is having a hard time, cropped down to just two days. Many designers are reflecting on the way they used to work and put sustainability as their main priority. Victoria Beckham‘s autumn-winter 2021 is a fine edit of both pre- and main collection. It’s all about unmistakable wardrobe essentials with versatile intentions – meaning easy day-to-night transition pieces. After the financial shockwaves of the epidemic, this season marked Beckham’s pared-down foot forward in general. “I sell clothes,” Beckham told Vogue. “I don’t sell so many shoes and bags that my collections are just about ticking a fashion box. They’re about creating clothes that people want to wear and can really wear. That’s why commerciality is not a swear word to me.” The look-book she released today demonstrated what a consolidated Victoria Beckham woman looks like. Rather than introducing new complex cuts or ambitious experimentation, familiar VB garments bore testimony to a certain studiousness: they’ve been simplified and perfected. Prairie and flapper dresses were streamlined, her slinky long-sleeved everyday dresses were recut for a t-shirt-like ease, and tailoring looked as optimized for comfort as it must have felt. For anyone hankering for more bling-bling, there were those knee-high silver sparkle boots and some rather subversive floral prints. In one instance, the latter clashed in a mad floaty dress that evoked some of Beckham’s more directional collections. “We never want anything to be boring,” as she put it. The morale of this collection is that less is more, if the quality and design is at its best. “People ask me if I think people will buy less when we come out of lockdown, and I hope they will! We want to sell clothes, don’t get me wrong, but I hope people will want to invest in pieces they really want to wear. Buy a piece and get your wear out of it. Don’t just buy it for one season,” Beckham concluded.

“Live” collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Timeless, Artisan and Beautiful. Tuinch SS20

I’ve discovered Veronique Vermussche‘s label Tuinch last season and I tell you, this is love at first sight! Each season, Vermussche travels from Belgium, where she lives, to the mountains of Kashmir and Tibet on to procure world-class cashmere from local artisans she’s built long-standing relationships with. For spring-summer 2020, meet some of the most luxurious knitwear goods you’ve ever seen. The collection brings hand-knitted skirts and dresses to the line-up of timeless sweaters that will serve you for years to come. The open-weave wrap-knit sarong skirt, complete with leather detailing, is the collection’s biggest highlight, just as the tasseled cotton-wool cape. It’s a summer look-book, so no wonder why the designer tries mixing linen and silks with her ribbed cashmere knits and wool maxi dresses. The warm, earthy colour palette is eventually contrasted with pastel shades that pop up in the details. Artisan, top notch quality and seasonless: that’s sustainability, too.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Timeless. The Row Resort’17

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There’re no other American brand like The Row. The New York-based label is far from ‘contemporary’ or ‘casual’. It’s a luxurious of reflection of Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen‘s aesthetic, which rather targets mature, intelligent individuals, rather than Insta-models. When the designers started The Row (named after London’s Savile Row, not by coincidence), the sisters didn’t look to any brand for inspiration. It’s has always been about quality and fit for them. The Row is a pretty young brand, though – but thanks to its philosophy and minute attention to detail in anything, it quickly appeared in the league of such minimal-luxury brands like Céline, Lemaire, or even Hermès.

No wonder why – just have a glance at The Row’s resort 2017 collection, and you will understand why the label has become fashion industry’s obsession. The look-book of just 13 images features (un)usual models: nearly 50-year-old  Frederique Van Der Wal, iconic Audra Avizienis, intriquing Olga Sherer and a newcomer, Jada Joyce. Those four women represent different ages, and that’s the silent message behind the collection. The coats and other outerwear pieces are timeless, just like black cashmere turtlenecks or fur-lined suede loafers. Sensual lingerie isn’t an intepretation of the slip-dress trend, but a new addition to the brand’s range. Impossible not to love it.

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Objects of Desire

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I am in love with the brand I am going to present you now – it’s Crista Seya. I mean, there are many labels which perfectly mix minimal with luxury. The Row, Lemaire, Hermes are all known to us! But surely, Crista Seya might be counted to that list. Her collections are divided in four editions, and in each the clothes are constantly available on request. Beautifully tailored shirts, awesome camel pantaloons and khaki ponchos – a dream. The white shoes from series 3 (a lot of normcore beige) are handmade in Buenos Aires, made from so-called kid leather and a cool “cut-out-edge” heel. The clothes from Crista Seya are fulfilled with everyday objects. Artisan vases, leather horse-necklaces, hand-dyed cushions. I mean, what’s better than a label which knows how to make your wardrobe and your home?

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