Chic, Chic, Chic. Alaïa AW89

A few days ago, I discovered this delightful autumn-winter 1989 Alaïa collection, and it’s unbelievable how timeless all those Monsieur Azzedine’s designs are. Actually, they even get better with age. The colours (especially all the shades of curcuma!), the cuts, the softness of wools and cashmeres used in this line-up, the body-conscious eveningwear, which looks both seductive and comfortable… it’s all so good. And of course, it was presented on the rue de Moussy – the live & work space Azzedine Alaïa built in the Marais district of Paris that would become a welcoming mecca to models and clients. What’s interesting, it was unfinished when the designer presented his winter 1989 show a month after the regular season ended (Alaïa famously presented on his own schedule, when he felt finished, and not according to a calendar date). According to The Los Angeles Times, the glass-roofed space was leaky, dampening the models as they paraded in a collection that underlined some of the tropes the designer had staked out as his own: sculpted leathers and clingy second-skin knits. The flowing bias-cut dresses in shimmering metallics definitely looked even more spectacular as they were slightly wet. Below are some of my favourite looks from this highly underrated collection.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Effortless and Warm. Proenza Schouler SS21

In the absence of a New York Fashion Week show, the Proenza Schouler designers – Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough – made their first-ever book with the photographer Daniel Shea. Shot in August, it pairs expressive model shots with even more evocative images of the city: the skyline at sunset, the Empire State building seen through a tangle of power lines, a super-tall tower on Billionaires’ Row. It’s an ode to their hometown in a year when they’ve spent very little of their time in it. In the early months of the pandemic they were up at their place in the Berkshires. They spent March and April on Zoom business calls trying to figure out how to make it through this unprecedented situation. When they finally turned to their next collection, their normal processes weren’t possible: no research trip, no dips into their archive, no silhouette studies on a model. “All we walked into the studio with was a feeling. We wanted something that felt effortless and warm; we wanted to get rid of the sharp edges. It just had to make you feel good. For us that’s what fashion should be at its most successful. It should make one’s life easier and feel good,” Hernandez said. “A forever quality,” McCollough elaborated, “something that lasts.” There are decorative treatments for both night and day here; allover sequins cover a straight-line shirtdress, and the shoulders of a button-down shirt and waistline of button-fly trousers are graphically dip-dyed. But the big story is really the attitude adjustment; without being boring the clothes feel simpler than what they’ve put on their recent runways. They emphasized easy-to-wear ribbed-knit separates and dresses, and stripped any artifice from their tailoring, which is just slightly oversized and mannish save for the suits’ soft pastel colors. Putting the accent on silhouette, they made a dress with a choker collar, a cut-out asymmetrical neckline, and voluminous sleeves, then cut the drama with puffy slippers. Those flat shoes are a key to the season’s new mood, a timely nod to our more circumscribed lifestyles and the renewed value that women are placing on comfort. It’s looking more and more like we’ll be staying homebound well into 2021. The collection’s knockout dress in stretch jersey with circular cut-outs on the bodice will be similarly comfortable, but the reason that women will really respond to it is because it looks like a guaranteed good time.

Collages by Edward Kanarecki.

One Grand Gesture: Carolina Herrera x Elizaveta Porodina

I can’t recall the last time I was so moved by an ad campaign visual coming from a brand. And I would never expect such pleasure to come from Carolina Herrera. To celebrate the label’s autumn-winter 2020 collection, inspired by the works of Spanish Baroque painter Francisco de Zurbarán and the idea of ‘One Grand Gesture’, creative director Wes Gordon collaborated with Russian artist and photographer Elizaveta Porodina to create a portfolio of images shot entirely over Zoom (!!!), capturing ballet dancers around the world in fearless and fabulous movement and color. Elizaveta captured six dancers around the world from their homes and studios throughout the quarantine: Natasha Diamond-Walker, soloist at Martha Graham Dance Company, Ako Kondo, prima ballerina from Melbourne, Misa Kuranaga, principal dancer at San Francisco Ballet, Inès McIntosh, quadrille at Opéra National de Paris, Claudia Monja, the principal dancer of Joburg Ballet, and Wendy Whelan, the associate artistic director of New York City Ballet. “The winter collection was about the idea of One Grand Gesture – a billowing sleeve, the most pigmented color, an unforgettable silhouette. The fine line between drama and restraint. I wanted to further explore this concept with photographer Elizaveta Porodina, whose work I have always admired“, Gordon sums up. Here’s a sublime feast for your eyes and mind after a rather stressful week of uncertainty and frustration…

All photos by Elizaveta Porodina – discover her work here!

Summer. Missoni SS21

Missoni‘s spring-summer 2021 look-book warms me mentally on this cold, rainy November day. “Summer, come back”, it seems to say. While other designers switch to loungewear with lockdown on their minds, for Angela Missoni it comes much more natural. “For us, comfort has always been at the foundation of our style,” she told Vogue via Zoom. “Knitwear is indeed the most malleable, versatile medium to convey a feel of ease. So there’s nothing new for us – we haven’t changed our perspective.” Discussing her new collection, she elaborated, “Since my parents established our house in the ’50s, our collections have never been elaborate or over-designed. Nevertheless, this season I went for even more simplicity and clarity. It came as a spontaneous feel. We are designers and not sociologists; our creativity is what drives us. Although these times call for a heightened sense of responsibility and more engagement on social issues, women – myself included – still desire to be feminine and to express a certain sensuality, even when confined at home.” The lineup pivoted around an elongated and slightly ’90s silhouette, popularised by Jacquemus in the last few collections – think tube tops or midriff-baring mini cardigans; slender body-hugging midi-skirts with sexy thigh-high slits; and straight-cut thin-strapped slip dresses baring the back. Missoni’s typical 3D textures were smoothed and simplified, with plays of horizontal intarsias contrasting the verticality of the lines, a touch of Lurex and fishnet-knitted sequins adding luminosity and sparkle. Missoni paired every outfit with T-strap stilettos, casually wrapped around the ankle with printed foulards. “I’ve found myself looking at high heels in my wardrobe with a feel of longing,” she said. “I can’t wait to wear them again when all this will hopefully be over.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Festive Stay-At-Home. Miu Miu Resort 2021

Miu Miu‘s resort 2021 line-up has little to do with the main collection‘s 90’s-inspired girl and sporty influences, but it’s equally charming with its chic kookiness and beautiful, diverse casting. Miuccia Prada delivers a sense of festiveness combined with stay-at-home uniform. A black satin blazer is worn with sweatpants, while a full-skirted prom dress looks easy with a chunky pull-over. As the look book’s images prove well enough, it’s an offering full of delightfully mismatched concoctions of vintage-y frocks, glam eveningwear and seductive lingerie. The overall effect is sensuality tinged with irreverence, and a certain cheeky nonchalance is all over the collection. The Miu Miu woman is a master of artsy self-representation, reconciling clashing pieces into unconventional-enough, yet well-put-together looks. She apparently knows how to balance what’s off-kilter – which sounds exactly what we should all be trying to do now, playing around with clothes you’ve already got in your wardrobe… and eventual Christmas shopping frenzy which is around the corner.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.