Friday, September 30, 2022

Dries Van Noten’s Black-To-Colour S/S'23 Show

Dries Van Noten’s first women’s show after the pandemic felt like an expression of his own psyche, finds Anders Christian Madsen. Here, the key takeaways from the emotional designer’s spring/summer 2023 show.

It was Dries Van Noten’s first women’s show since the pandemic

For Dries Van Noten, the idea of returning to runways and fashion week ‘normality’ hasn’t been the straightforward no-brainer that seems to be the case for many designers and brands. He spent the pandemic engaging in industry debates about the fashion cycle, trying to use the interruption of the lockdown periods as an opportunity to improve a show calendar that ultimately remained the same. Where many designers already returned to the runway last year, Van Noten continued to explore digital formats and static presentations until, finally, he felt ready. Following a smaller men’s show in June, that moment came this season.

It went from black to colour

“It was my first show in quite a while, so I thought, let’s start with a black square: ‘from zero’. Black means fabrics, textures, shapes, and it was really nice because on the one hand we wanted to make something quite tough, but also something very tender,” Van Noten said backstage. His show felt like an expression of his own post-pandemic psyche: a succession of all-black looks that gradually grew more flamboyant in construction until specks of colour started to appear and the show eventually erupted in a sea of floral prints, flounces and joy. Dries was back.

It was about optimism

“Optimism! It was really, for me, about optimism. Last time, we made a very festive collection, but I think ‘festive’ is maybe not the best word for the world we are living in now. So, I thought, let’s work towards optimism,” Van Noten said. Cleverly, his collection ended up encompassing both this season’s affinity for a funeral-like goth silhouette and the floral-centric exuberance that has countered it. “We said, let’s explore the shapes in black and make them softer adding ruffles and textures and pleats and crushing and smocking and macramé and all those crafts, and then we want to have an explosion of optimism and flowers and everything that we love.”

Glass jewels were symbolic

Van Noten adorned his silhouettes in colourful glass jewellery that looked like contemporary art objects. He said they were symbolic of the state of the world that surrounds him. “Glass is hard but also fragile, and I think that’s quite right as a symbol of the world we are living in.” You wouldn’t call Van Noten an emotional person, but he is an emotional designer. In many ways, this collection felt like an expression of the hopes and fears he had been working through over the past two years.

It featured an extended Blondie soundtrack

In line with the show’s transition from all-black into colour, Van Noten teased the intro of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” – echoing his jewellery – for what felt like an eternity, letting his audience simmer until finally, Debbie Harry’s voice broke through. “We said, how long can we keep it going?” he laughed. “It comes from a new box that came out from Blondie with all these different parts and this was one of the parts that we really liked, so we asked for the rights. And there we were! Blondie was very happy we were doing it. ‘Any time, just call me!’” Van Noten said, referencing another of Harry’s hits.

Balmain’s Renaissance-Inspired Show

Olivier Rousteing staged the spectacular Balmain Festival for his spring/summer 2023 show. Cher and Shygirl performed to press and 12,000 members of the public at the Stade Jean-Bouin arena, while Rousteing debuted his most sustainable collection to date, crafted from materials including banana peels, fallen wood and raffia. Scroll on for the key takeaways from the event.

Cher made a surprise appearance

Cher helped Olivier Rousteing take his bow on the Balmain runway on Wednesday evening. On its Instagram, the maison posted an illustration of the Armenian-American superstar in the style of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomy drawing proclaiming her “the blueprint”. To this designer and his peers, that’s not overstating it. As a music and fashion icon, who has devoted her platform to human rights, the environment and wildlife, she is a real role model, who resonates with new generations as well as those raised on her many musical eras and farewell tours. “Blueprinting” Cher was the conclusion to a show that drew on the enlightenment of the Renaissance as a message for today. “It’s a love letter to my planet,” Rousteing said backstage.

The show was part of the Balmain Festival

The show took place in the Stade Jean-Bouin arena as part of the annual Balmain Festival where Rousteing invites 12,000 members of the public to watch his show along with various music acts, including Shygirl who performed as the fashion press took their seats. “It’s just incredible because it’s a moment of opening the closed doors of fashion. Everyone is talking about inclusivity. Well, let’s not just talk about it,” the designer said. With Kylie Jenner in the audience – posting to her 370 million Instagram followers – the festival was Rousteing’s platform for reaching the massive non-industry audience that makes up his Balmain following and conveying the environmental and cross-cultural messages that underpinned his collection.

It was founded in sustainability

“I’m thinking about what the tendency of tomorrow is, and how we can help,” Rousteing said, listing the many sources and techniques that had gone into creating his most sustainable collection to date: banana peels, fallen wood, raffia, 100 per cent sustainable cotton linen, and so on. (By next season, Balmain will also have finalised its transition to certified sustainable wool for the majority of its output.) “It was a challenge for me and my team to enter this new world, but it’s so important to consider,” he said. Rousteing said his journey into sustainability had been eye-opening in a way that had reminded him of the great discoveries of the Renaissance. That parallel inspired him to paint his collection in the cherubs of Michelangelo, the drawings of Da Vinci, and the scribblings of Galilei.

Rousteing took inspiration from his own heritage

Rousteing’s Renaissance motifs were unsurprisingly beautiful, but it was the way he approached the craftsmanship that surrounded them that made this collection different to those of recent years. Inspired by his discoveries of his own cultural heritage, he drew on different tribal traditions of Ethiopia and Somalia, applying these dress codes and techniques to impressive constructions – quilting, draping, braiding, patchwork, weaving and sculpting – that worked his Renaissance motifs into silhouettes that felt hand-spun and ancient and really quite epic. “I’m half Somalian, half Ethiopian, and there’s a lot of love for Africa here. Africa is the birthplace of the world,” he said. “This is me.”

Couture looks evoked Rousteing’s recent JPG collection

Within his forays into his cultural genetics, you could also sense the influence of the haute couture collection Rousteing designed for Jean Paul Gaultier in July. Specifically, his new Balmain proposals felt like a natural progression from the men’s part of that show, which fused the pan-African cultural references of Gaultier’s spring/summer 1994 collection with Rousteing’s own design language. At the Balmain Festival, he presented his own couture collection as the grand finale. Working with artisans from Egypt, he created bustiers from fallen bark and branches, constructed dresses out of oak, and fashioned silhouettes from raffia, jute and twigs. “It’s about looking for science and pushing art to understanding the world,” Rousteing said, echoing the Renaissance men who came before him.

Saint Laurent’s Martha Graham-Inspired S/S'23 Show

“I think I was missing that mega, super elegance of the house,” said Anthony Vaccarello of a new season infusing Yves Saint Laurent heritage tailoring with the tube dresses of American choreographer Martha Graham. British Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen reports from Paris.

It was all shoulders and length

Anthony Vaccarello may have swapped his affinity for the super short for a new obsession with length, but it hasn’t cramped the bold sensuality that defines his work. For the second season running, the designer dedicated his Saint Laurent collection to floor-length silhouettes, layering languid column dresses with broad-shouldered greatcoats with hems that swept along the surface of his tiled runway across from the Eiffel Tower. “Last season was very dramatic – it was all black and white – and this season I wanted to continue that idea for a really ‘dressed’ woman,” he said during a preview. “I think I was missing that mega, super elegance of the house.”

It was inspired by Martha Graham

Vaccarello found his mega, super elegance in a conversation between the masculine tailoring of Yves Saint Laurent and the tube dresses of the American choreographer Martha Graham, whose stripped down and clarified approach to movement revolutionised modern dance. Her signature stage wardrobe was embodied by long jersey silhouettes that accentuated the anatomical sculpting of the body. Vaccarello distilled that language into graceful dresses structured from the body itself, which often looked like walking life drawings. “I loved the purity,” he said.

It made a huge impact

Now six years into his Saint Laurent residency, Vaccarello is carving out a remarkable practice founded in highly defined form, language and colour work. He increasingly uses his collections to investigate a single shape and defined palette, which he reiterates and refines until they’ve been purified into a message so clear it leaves a mark. (Literally, so strong is his message that, after the show, you can still sense the contours and tones of the collection imprinted on your retina.) It’s not just clever creatorship, but clever marketing, too. There wasn’t a person in the audience – physical or digital – who won’t remember Vaccarello’s proposal when they eventually shop for their spring/summer 2023 wardrobe.

Colours were informed by the desert

In the process of his evolution, Vaccarello is becoming quite the colourist, too. His collection drew on the Marrakech-inspired tones of the Saint Laurent archive in earthy colours that reflected the same focus on fine-tuning and finesses as his silhouette. Like those shapes, they were intense but sensual, enhancing the tensions that sculpted the collection: the sharp versus the soft, the strong versus the fragile, the structured versus the free. Vaccarello said a recurrent reference had been the colours and atmosphere of Polaroids from the fittings of Yves Saint Laurent and his muses.

Saint Laurent built a fountain

To match his sculptural lines, Vaccarello had erected a life-size brutalist stone fountain in his Place de Varsovie show space, which sat atop a massive square tiled in stone. As always, it came with a view of the Eiffel Tower, a structure as memorable as Vaccarello’s new silhouette itself. “I liked the idea of them being super structured and very slim,” he said of his statuesque coats. They may have referenced the ’80s, but they felt just as relevant for contemporary power dressing.

Christian Dior’s Baroque S/S'23 Show

From the cardboard grotto constructed by Eva Jospin to this season’s royal muse, Catherine de’ Medici, Dior’s spring/summer 2023 show was a history-infused exploration of baroque craft. Here’s how Maria Grazia Chiuri translated it for the Dior customer today.

The collection was inspired by Catherine de’ Medici

Maria Grazia Chiuri hadn’t yet watched The Serpent Queen – the brilliant new series starring Samantha Morton as Catherine de’ Medici – but the royal muse she chose for her Christian Dior collection couldn’t have been better timed. “She’s one of the first figures in history to understand fashion as a tool to promote her own power,” the designer said, referring to the shrewd Italian-born noblewoman who became Queen of France in 1547 and introduced a number of fashions to the country’s court, including ladies’ underwear, handkerchiefs, platform heels and an Italian embroidery now known as Punto de Caterina. “When her husband died she started dressing in black, which was also a power colour. You’d recognise her immediately because she was in all black, and her platforms made her taller and more important,” Chiuri explained.

Maria Grazia Chiuri contemporised baroque costume

Chiuri employed her regal reference in a straightforward way: the show opened with baroque hoop skirts like the ones that graced de’ Medici’s court. They were interpreted in lace, straw and crochet imbued with a certain sportiness that permeated the collection (and echoed last season’s tech-tastic silhouettes). Amplifying that idea, Chiuri used drawstring to ruche tops and bomber jackets into courtly flounces, manipulating them to serve at once as sportswear and formalwear. The pomp and circumstance were echoed in tiered chandelier skirts and guipure nightgowns that saluted de’ Medici’s appreciation for undergarments, and delicate antique floral dresses that conjured the interior of a queenly boudoir. Finally, Chiuri fused Roger Vivier’s sculptural Dior kitten heel with de’ Medici’s platforms in what may have been the season’s boldest footwear proposition.

It was about the new power of fashion

Asked if she relates to the notorious baroque queen – a female Italian force in French history – Chiuri laughed. “My idea of fashion is more about freedom, but historically fashion was about expressing power. Today, I see a lot of people who are very attracted to fashion, but there’s a young generation that hates fashion because they think it’s a power system. When I go to fashion schools it’s evident. They don’t like big brands and groups because they don’t like the system. But they don’t understand that this gives opportunities to beautiful projects. Sometimes people say I have power because I’m in a power brand. I never see it this way. I see it as having opportunities to create beautiful things and to support craftsmanship. But I think it comes from this idea that in the past fashion was used to express power.”

The show featured a cardboard grotto

A woman of her word, Chiuri once again used her mammoth platform to promote the work of other creatives. She invited the French artist Eva Jospin – who previously created all-embroidered tapestries for a show set – to carve out of cardboard (!) a baroque garden grotto like the epic one completed by de’ Medici’s family in the Boboli Gardens of the Florentine Palazzo Pitti – albeit after the death of The Black Queen, as she became known. Chiuri said was fascinated with the baroque era’s relationship between nature and culture, and the cardboard element – which was super impressive – only added to that notion. The same dichotomy was, of course, reflected in the court dress of de’ Medici’s era and most strongly expressed in the type of corsets she stipulated her ladies had to wear. Not one for a constricting silhouette, you could tell Chiuri had enjoyed the process of converting her cinchers into sportier harnesses that could appeal to her contemporary clientele.

It opened with a performance

The show opened with a performance created by the Dutch brother/sister choreographers Imre and Marne van Opstal, which saw dancers in breastplates painted like baroque garden statues interpret sculptural language through movement. It underlined the humanity at the core of Chiuri’s powerful fashion platform: showcasing the talent of people, their minds and their hands. She further promoted that idea in patterns created for the collection by the Lyon-based silk weavers Tassinari & Chatel by Lelièvre Paris, which supplied the French court with fineries since the days of Marie Antoinette. The garden motifs were joined by a map print created in-house and sourced from the archives of Christian Dior. “The idea is to put into conversation all the references that come from France and Italy, and what we have in common,” Chiuri explained, concluding a European exchange de’ Medici would have appreciated.

This Is The Best Celebrity Moment Of Fashion Month

Celebrities have been stealing the show at the spring/summer 2023 presentations – whether they’ve been sitting in the front rows, or walking on the actual runways themselves (did you catch Paris Hilton strutting her stuff at the Versace? That’s hot!). But today in Paris, designer Olivier Rousteing’s new collection for Balmain had debatably the best star cameo of the entire month: A finale walk from Cher. Yes, the legend herself.

The surprise moment saw Cher, who is fabulous at 76, close the show rocking the French label’s spandex bodysuit design, which had sharp shoulder pads, a plunging neckline, and subtle marble print. It also wouldn’t be a Cher moment without a dash of theatricality, so she was sure to sport towering platform wedge heels, too – death-defying shoes that she walked in with total ease, of course.

And sure, Paris Fashion Week is far from over, with major shows from Chanel and Louis Vuitton still to come, both heavy on VIP guest lists. But the Cher sighting at Balmain is a tough one to beat. Her catwalk moment proved that incredible style and confidence occurs at every age – in fact, it clearly just gets better year after year. The only thing that was missing was a microphone, so she could belt out “Believe.” But that’s just getting greedy.

Daniel Lee Succeeds Riccardo Tisci At Burberry

Daniel Lee has been appointed chief creative officer at Burberry. The former Bottega Veneta designer, who exited the Italian house in November, will succeed current lead Riccardo Tisci on 3 October and oversee all collections. London Fashion Week autumn/winter 2023 in February will see Lee’s Burberry debut.

“Daniel is an exceptional talent with a unique understanding of today’s luxury consumer and a strong record of commercial success, and his appointment reinforces the ambitions we have for Burberry,” commented new CEO Jonathan Akeroyd of his first appointment at the house. “I am excited about working closely with him and I am confident he will have the impact we are aiming for in this next phase, supported by our talented and experienced teams.”

The news comes after an emotional swan song from Tisci, who took his last bow at Burberry surrounded by the big-name models and musicians who have been integral to his tenure. Naomi Campbell, Irina Shayk, Bella Hadid and Karen Elson showcased his final directional take on the house’s great British tropes, with a goth-at-the-beach slant, while Stormzy, Pa Salieu and Kanye West watched on in a warehouse in Bermondsey.

Bradford-born Lee has very different shoes to fill, but demonstrated his knack for brand reinvention when he jump-started Bottega from a sleepy heritage label into a cult phenomenon producing fashion’s most buzzed-about accessories. He has been an editors’ stealth favourite since his days working under Phoebe Philo at Céline, with more than a few waiting to see his homegrown spin on Burberry’s signature outerwear. Watch this space, new-look trench coats are a’coming.

Balenciaga Presses Go On Resale Following Successful Pilot

Balenciaga is pushing further into the resale market. After a successful pilot, the Kering-owned brand has formally launched a partnership with white label resale platform Reflaunt, in which Balenciaga CEO Cédric Charbit is an investor.

The tie-up allows customers to sell their pre-owned Balenciaga clothing and accessories in return for store credit. Customers can drop off items at select stores, which are sent to Reflaunt to be authenticated, professionally photographed and priced. The pieces are then listed on Reflaunt’s global network, which includes more than 25 secondary marketplaces, such as Tradesy, Vestiaire Collective and Hamburg-based resale platform Rebelle.

Luxury brands are getting directly involved in the resale market to have more ownership over second-hand sales. In June, Italian fashion house Valentino announced that it would begin selling vintage items collected from customers in exchange for store credit. Gucci’s Gucci Vault concept also resurfaces vintage house pieces. Other brands have worked directly with resale platforms such as The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective.


Balenciaga says the rollout with Reflaunt is part of its broader mission to become a “fully sustainable company” and is designed to “encourage the practices of reducing, reusing and recycling”.

Reflaunt’s technology has been adopted by brands and retailers including Net-a-Porter, Ganni and Axel Arigato. Charbit was among those to invest in the service during its seed funding round, alongside Swarovski creative director Giovanna Battaglia. It raised a further $11 million (£10.2 million) in a Series A funding round in August 2022. It is part of LVMH’s accelerator programme La Maison des Startups, which looks to bring new services and innovative products to the luxury market.

How New York Fashion Week S/S23's Trends Set The Tone For London, Milan And Paris

New York has long been one of the preeminent fashion capitals of the world, standing tall next to London, Milan and Paris. From Bryant Park to Lincoln Center, and now Spring Studios, New York Fashion Week’s centralized showcases have proven to be a strong breeding ground for new generations of talent, with brands like Peter Do, Bode, Area, Pyer Moss, Telfar, Supreme and more benefitting from an international spotlight being placed on the city.

For Spring/Summer 2023 a plethora of trends have already been spotted in each of the fashion capitals. Citrus shades and tailored suiting made an impact in Milan while flirtatious formalwear and genderless garments ruled London, but New York gets an automatic leg-up on predicting what’s next for fashion offerings by showing first on the international calendar.

The first showcase of NYFW designers collectively presenting their collections for buyers and consumers is largely credited to Eleanor Lambert – a founder of the CFDA. Lambert, along with Ruth Finley’s show calendar implementation in 1945, seized the opportunity to put NY on the map as a fashion capital while Paris and its couturiers – Christian Dior, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Coco Chanel, et. al. – reeled from the effects of World War II. Additionally, with the ‘90s introduction of rising Austrian designer Helmut Lang, the fashion world took a turn from New York presenting its collections last on the calendar, to first, when Lang decided to show his 1998 collection in NYC instead of in Paris. Lang’s fascination with the Big Apple sparked interest from other international designers (including the late Alexander McQueen), to show in NY – thus allowing “the city that never sleeps” to lead the way in forecasting global trends.

Take a look below at how New York’s SS23 trends set the tone for London and Milan, also providing a glimpse of what to expect next in Paris.

Put Some Weight On Your Shoulders

Dan Lecca

The pandemic has placed an unbearable weight on the world’s shoulders for the past two-and-a-half years, and designers have been keen to make witty references to how world leaders and cultural institutions have mismanaged many opportunities to set things on the right track. In bold fashion, shoulders have become a focal point for SS23, with brands like Luar and No Sesso turning inward to lead the trend charge.

Heavy On The Cargo

Some of New York’s designers want consumers to gear up for next season in utilitarian codes of ready-to-wear and accessories. From Fendi’s multi-collab project to Tommy Hilfiger, and LaQuan Smith, an array of extra pockets, strap-happy bags and zip-closure detailing have been designed to free up the hands so wearers can enjoy an upcoming Spring/Summer season without clutter.

Spice Up Your Knits

Madison Voekel

The term ‘sweater weather’ applies to that transition from summer to fall, and from winter to spring – where a layered sweater can suffice without the need for a jacket. So when the weather finally changes, designers want you to grab a good sweater that’s been punched up in brightly colored hues. Whether a chunky knit or a thin cardigan from Eckhaus Latta or Coach, sweaters for next season are dialing it up in the tonal area.

Go For The Glam

Selwyn Tungol

The pandemic’s doom and gloom have weighed heavy on consumers and designers alike over the past two years, and in opposition to that melancholy, several brands have decided to glitz up offerings for next season with shimmering lace and decadent suiting. Lace’s association of being an intimate fabric is noted here, as it’s being shown in a barely-there way. Its presence in next season’s menswear is depicted in a cool manner with button-up shirts or thin tanks. As well, suiting for men has become ornate with extra-wide lapels and plush fabrications – noted in Willy Chavarria’s voluminous sets and silk floral appliqué.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Come One Come All: Moncler Invites 18,000 People To Its 70th Birthday Party

For many other brands, the weekend’s persistent rain might have upended plans to create a huge show in Milan’s Duomo Square. Moncler, however, is a house that specialises in garments that can get you through the worst of weathers. Moncler collaborators past and present, including Pharrell Williams, Michèle Lamy, Francesco Ragazzi and Hiroshi Fujiwara joined Salehe Bembury (a rumoured future collaborator) to celebrate the French-founded, Italian-operated brand’s 70th anniversary. 

Before moving on with fellow guests including Future, Anne Hathaway, Colin Kaepernick and Shailene Woodley for an exclusive dinner, they joined an estimated 18,000 members of the public to watch a show that featured precisely 1,952 models, musicians and performers – a detail intended to mark the year the house was founded. Under the choreographic direction of Sadeck Waff, the result was an epic of synchronised expression. And as all of the participants were wearing all-white Moncler, including the new ‘70’ edition of the Maya jacket that will be the central subject of the house’s anniversary sales campaign, they were able to put up with a little bad weather.

Riccardo Tisci On His Goth-At-The-Beach-Inspired S/S'23 Show

After Burberry postponed its original presentation at London Fashion Week following the death of the Queen, Riccardo Tisci finally got to reveal his collection on the Monday between the Milan and Paris collections. Staged in a warehouse in Bermondsey, the show began in complete silence before the soprano Nadine Sierra broke into a live aria, and the London Contemporary Orchestra scored the finale. Styled on a cast that included Naomi Campbell, Karen Elson and Erin O’Connor, Tisci worked swimsuit elements into dresses and tailoring, which simultaneously incorporated the trademarks of the goth wardrobe: lace, netting, perforation, and gothic fonts, as well as crinkled négligées he attributed to the punk era. Anders Christian Madsen spoke to Tisci after the show.

It’s a big goth season. But that’s in your design genes!

A lot of people do me, so I do the new goth! A lot of people have been doing goth this season, and I’m happy about that because I always loved goth, but I’m happy that we did it this way. It was not about make-up, it was about details and fabrics, and the girls were very relaxed.

What kind of goth is this?

British summer is very different from anywhere else in the world, because Britain is basically built on big cities on the water. That means you really see people dressing on the beach, because you never know when it’s going to rain or when there’s going to be sun. The beauty is the goth on the beach, like these kids we filmed the other day, who are the real kids, or you see a wedding, or someone who’s gone there at lunchtime to read. It’s all different personalities.

Is that what brought on the swimsuit elements?

The swimsuit, since I arrived… for so many years, Burberry has been a masculine winter company, but since my arrival – and the arrival of sensuality – the bestseller in the spring and summer is the swimsuit: the famous swimsuit that all the iconic British girls – the Spice Girls, All Saints, you name it – have worn. It started from that.

How did you use it?

Mostly, what I’m very proud of, is that each look had an element of the swimsuit. The bikini becomes a mini dress or a shirt. Trousers become a men’s swimsuit. Materials like technical jersey are used for evening dresses.

What inspired the crinkled négligée dresses?

If you look at Michael Clark and everyone from the punk era, most of their fabrics are jersey and wools that are crinkled. I took the inspiration from that. But at the same time, the inspiration was weddings and swimsuits. It’s a shirt that became underwear that became a wedding dress.

How did you approach the menswear?

The menswear was David Bowie meeting a royal theme and real street. What is the new England? It’s no longer one thing. There are lots of Black kids and Asians. England is really open and will be open for the future, so I think it was very good mix.

The collection felt very you.

I’m very happy because finally I’ve found my way to do Burberry and Riccardo Tisci at the same time. Obviously, everybody understands it takes time in a big company like this. The show represents what is, for me, British style: elegance, sophistication, the countryside, but at the same time, the beach and sexuality.

Why did you choose to present the show in a mix of silence and a solo aria, and an orchestra for the finale?

It was a moment of respect for someone who’s not with us anymore, who’s been a big influence and a big woman. She was the Queen of the world – every country respected her. At the same time, it was a moment of calm and relaxation and enjoying the clothes without disturbances. In England you always have this contrast: the street and the royalty. And I think today was that.

Matty Bovan’s S/S'23 Show Supported By Dolce & Gabbana

Under Dolce & Gabbana’s emerging talent initiative, Matty Bovan showed at Milan Fashion Week for the first time. British Vogue fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen delivers everything you need to know.

The show was supported by Dolce & Gabbana

“I’m exhausted. I haven’t run like that for years,” Matty Bovan said backstage after an epic finale sprint down his mile-long runway. This season, the Yorkshire-based designer had relocated his show from London to Milan when some very special people made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: A collaboration with Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. “They reached out. They liked my work. They loved the energy, they loved the colour. They said, ‘We’d love to do something with you.’ I said, wow, okay, let’s see in what capacity,” Bovan said, seemingly still in disbelief that it had actually happened. “It’s been special because I went through a really difficult time in my personal life, and this was the right moment for me to give every single thing that I had.”

Dolce & Gabbana gave Bovan full access to their world

It was an incredible opportunity for a designer with a young independent business, and a commendable initiative from Dolce & Gabbana. Bovan said the duo had been beyond supportive throughout the process, allowing him to set up camp in their Milan ateliers and giving full access to their artisans, materials and, even, archives. “They gave all the creative control. I was very grateful to them for giving me such an opportunity.” He wanted to deliver, and boy did he deliver. Appropriately set in a show space in Navigli – an area favoured by many of the young designers who work on the teams of Milan’s fashion houses – the show applied Bovan’s signature ancient futurism to codes from Dolce & Gabbana’s archives, such as corsetry and denim.

It re-energised the codes of Dolce & Gabbana

Titled Shapeshifter, the collection investigated dynamic and seductive silhouettes native to the language of haute couture, and also inherent to the legacy of Dolce & Gabbana. “It’s feminine, but I think my world is very twisted feminine,” Bovan pointed out. If the collection of reissues the Italian designers showed the day before – curated from their archives by their super fan Kim Kardashian – re-familiarised younger audiences with the core genetics of Dolce & Gabbana, Bovan’s approach re-energised those codes in a cross-pollination with his own otherworldly vision. “I did special colours, sizing, and, of course, my hand-painting,” he said, explaining how he had worked the re-issued pieces he chose from the designers’ archives. “Ninety-five percent of it was hand-painted by me.”

It reflected Bovan’s values

Throughout the collaboration, Bovan had stuck to the principles that have always been at the heart of his label, such as upcycling: “It was mostly deadstock: Deadstock linings from fabrics they’ve used before. A lot of the yarns I mixed with new deadstock, so it still looks perfect for the collection,” he explained. “A lot of the work was done in York – a lot by me. All the stuff I did under my label was made in the UK, which is hugely important. And then, working with Dolce was very organic and quite easy. We worked with their atelier and, my God, they’re so incredible! They did such an amazing job. I’ve never seen work like it, ever. I’ve never had access to work like that. Their sewing was just off the scale. It was beautiful,” he gushed, seconds before Dolce and Gabbana came to congratulate him backstage.

It could easily get a sequel

Even if the city’s packed fashion week schedule hardly needed another show added to it, it was amazing to see Matty Bovan do his thing on Milanese soil. It was testament to the generosity of Dolce and Gabbana and their genuine interest in the young talent that will shape the future of their industry. Asked if the opportunity could impact the future of his own label, Bovan said yes. “Possibly, yeah. It’s great to have this amazing platform.” If Dolce & Gabbana is up for another round, there’s definitely an audience for it. And no doubt a clientele, too.

Giorgio Armani’s Serenity-Filled S/S'23 Show

Giorgio Armani’s spring/summer 2023 runway was infused with a sense of serenity. It felt much-needed, says Anders Christian Madsen, who brings you five things to know about the show on the final day of Milan Fashion Week.

It provided a moment of peace

The serenity that filled Giorgio Armani’s underground runway room on Via Borgonuovo on the last day of the Milan shows felt much-needed. Since the post-pandemic return of fashion week, the industry has been increasing its pace at breakneck speed. It’s exciting but exhausting, and lightyears from the lessons we were so eager to teach ourselves during lockdown periods. That doesn’t go for Armani. He has no intention of retiring but at 88, he would like to smell the roses. “I definitely would like to slow down. I think it’s important to make time for oneself and just cherish the moment,” he said, before a show that epitomised his signature peaceful elegance at its most beautiful.

It had a global sensibility

“The essence is a certain purity, and the glimmer of gold,” Armani said of looks that established a desert feeling in both silhouette and palette. It brought to mind a nomadic wardrobe founded in ancient, original garments like sarouel trousers, sarongs and latticed and netted tops intricately executed with the finest craftsmanship. He adorned it with big sculptural necklaces and earrings that looked almost carved by hand, cementing the earthy, grounded and serene core of the collection. You could imagine the geographic references that birthed them, but throughout the show, Armani maintained a culturally ambiguous and above all global approach that felt very poignant in the current climate.

Colours were earthy and soothing

In creating his serene atmosphere, Armani exercised his talent for colour. They shifted from the pale beige that glimmered with gold to ink blue and purples, and concluded in a warmer beige that turned up the volume on those glistening golden surfaces. “I like the story that the collection tells, a story that speaks about colours but also about elongated and liquid shapes,” he said. “I think we’re facing a very hard moment and we all strive for serenity, peacefulness, calm. The collection reflects this state of mind, so everything is very pure, joyous, and soothing at the same time.”

The hair was incredible

What the runway won’t show is the intricate hair styling that quickly became a defining factor in the show. Every model’s hair was tied into a ponytail, the hair then twisted around the length of it in sections that resembled basket weave. It made for one of those how-did-they-do-that? moments: a kind of craftsmanship as impressive as the collection itself, and in which you could truly sense the human hand.

Armani paid tribute to the Queen

As the most senior designer in fashion – and a king in his own capacity – it was only right to ask Armani about the death of the Queen, whom he once confessed was the only person he dreamed of dressing. “I was very affected by the death of Queen Elizabeth. I think she’s been a true icon for all of us. It was almost like having a character from a fairy tale in real life. Her passing also made me reflect on the passing of time, but it didn’t make me sad because she’s had a wonderful life, truly full and intense – with some amount of scandal too, which she always fronted with great strength and extreme dignity, but also with a certain gentleness. I think she’s been a role model for many,” he said. “I think she had her own wonderful, very personal style. I would probably like to dress the new King and Queen-Consort. It would be an interesting challenge, and I would be curious to know what their concept of style and elegance is. It would certainly be an intriguing conversation.”

Philosophy Di Lorenzo Serafini’s Essentialised S/S'23 Show

Think of Philosophy Di Lorenzo's spring/summer 2023 as a poetic palate cleanser. Purified silhouettes, that riffed on the design codes of Romeo Gigli and Giorgio di Sant’Angelo, and featured a lick of latex, defined the label's latest offering. Here, British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen breaks down the five biggest takeaways from the show.

The collection marked a new direction

It was a season of change for Philosophy where Lorenzo Serafini traded his sumptuous quirkiness of collections past for a stricter and more reduced approach to the romance at the heart of the brand. “It’s more mature. Less girly and more woman. More sensual and less decorative,” he concurred after the show. “Maybe I’m growing older! I felt it was time for a change.”

It was purified realness

Presented in a brightly lit optical white runway room, the collection was purified and straight-to-the-point: the romantic codes of Philosophy distilled to their very essence in a clean, contemporary palate cleanser that had a re-energising effect. “They’re very easy dresses. They’re all cottons. They’re real dresses. They’re not made for the show. They’re something you can picture with your eyes closed. They stay in reality, and on the street,” Serafini said.

It referenced two designer icons

“It was about the essentials: the lines,” the designer explained, revealing two unlikely sources of inspiration for the atmosphere he had ultimately created: the work of Romeo Gigli and Giorgio di Sant’Angelo. “Even though they are two of an opposite world,” Serafini said, “we wanted to evolve the way that the body was blooming with this kind of dressing.” He drew on the knots and twirls of Gigli’s construction in elegant dresses that could be adapted on the body. “All these dresses you can move and drape on your body yourself, and make them longer or shorter, or keep sleeves on or off, or make them sit high or low.”

It gave us Toile De Jouy latex

By reducing his references to their core structural language, Serafini arrived at a constrained but highly graphic form language that suited Philosophy. Even a Toile De Jouy brought back from his second collection for the brand had been contemporised as a print on latex trousers and tops that served as kind of optical illusion. It brought a sexiness to an otherwise sensual collection, which kept a constant balance between romance and a sense of rock “n” roll.

It was a reset for the mind

“I think we’re living in a period where it’s so rare to get something… I don’t want to say minimal, but clean, at least. Everywhere you look, everything is so extreme, so over-styled and over-decorated. I really felt like I wanted something to clean up everything and start a new path,” Serafini said. It felt like the right one.

Maximilian Davis’s Debut Show For Ferragamo S/S'23

A sultry shade of red dominated 27-year-old Mancunian designer Maximilian Davis's debut show for Ferragamo, debuting a spring/summer 2023 collection that celebrated sensuality, new Hollywood glamour and a redefinition of archival codes. Here, British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen breaks down the five biggest takeaways from the anticipated show.

It was Maximilian Davis’s debut for Ferragamo

Watching Maximilian Davis’s first show unfold for the brand now known simply as Ferragamo, it was hard to believe that the 27-year-old Manchurian designer only had two previous runway presentations under his belt. Set in the vast courtyard of the palazzo of the former Archbishop’s Seminary on Corso Venezia – a building Ferragamo is currently turning into a Portrait Hotel – the scale of the show was epic. Davis filled it, quite literally, with red sand echoing the colour of the flag of his Trinidadian background, which defined the palette for the collections he presented under Lulu Kennedy’s Fashion East in London.

It was sensual glamour

What resonates between Davis’s previous work and the heritage of Ferragamo is a certain idea of sophisticated glamour: the kind that focus on gestures rather than statements, on cuts rather than surface decoration, and employs sensuality as the ultimate tool for seduction. You could find all those elements in Davis’s debut approach: “I wanted to pay tribute to Salvatore’s start by bringing in the culture of Hollywood – but new Hollywood,” he said. “Its ease and sensuality; it's sunset and sunrise.” He interpreted those things in gradient colours painted across his signature sexy, sheathing, slithering constructions, veiling bodies – male and female – in solar filters informed by Rachel Harrison’s Sunset Series colours.

It undressed Ferragamo

In his experiments with lightness and undress, Davis brought a sense of sexiness to Ferragamo that his press notes described as “fetishism”: tiny little shorts on men and women constructed in rigid leather and paired with matching jackets; leggings and tight shorts that left little to the imagination, barely-there bandeau tops and bras, and dresses so transparent you got a full body view. In an era where nudity is hailed and normalised like never before – just scroll through a red carpet or a social media feed – those elements made a proposition to a new generation, who perhaps wasn’t looking at Ferragamo before, and might connect with Davis’s celebrity fanbase that already includes Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Dua Lipa.

It was Davis’s accessories debut

Ferragamo, of course, is founded in shoes and accessories. As a young designer, this driving force behind the house is Davis’s biggest challenge and greatest new adventure. “I want each piece to feel playful, but also desirable as an object – to stand on its own,” he said of his first forays into those corners of the business. They included new up- and down-scaled interpretation of the Wanda bag from 1988 and a bag with organically-shaped cut-outs in contrast colours including Davis’s signature red. He approached the architectonic language of shoes with the same sensuality of his garments, in sandals with circular heels, delicate takes on Roman sandals, and trendy leather slippers.

It signified change

“It was about looking into the archive and establishing what could be redefined to become relevant for today,” Davis said of his collection. In his debut show, he let the red sand speak for itself. “It relates to Ferragamo, to Hollywood, to the ocean – but also to me, and to my own DNA, to what the sea means to Caribbean culture: a place where you can go to reflect and feel at one. I wanted to show that perspective, but now through the Ferragamo lens.”

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Bottega Veneta’s “Peverse Banality” S/S'23 Show

For Bottega Veneta's spring/summer 2023 show, Matthieu Blazy collaborated with famed New York-based Italian architect and urban planner Gaetano Pesce, on a colourful, sidewalk-echoing show set, that presented a vision mediating between “peverse banality” and perverse artisanality. Here, British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen breaks down the five biggest takeaways from the show.

Matthieu Blazy called it “perverse banality”

If the first six looks in the Bottega Veneta show (Kate Moss in look six) could have been a snapshot of an everyday street scenario circa 1990 – polo T-shirts, oversized plaid shirts, roomy chinos nipped at the ankle – it’s because they represented an idea Matthieu Blazy referred to as “perverse banality”. Ten years ago, the fetichisation of the ordinary became known as normcore, but in his second collection at the helm of the brand, the designer raised that bar. Like last season, these garments weren’t garments at all, but trompe l’oeil pieces made solely out of leather. “We looked at each other in the studio like a mirror. Basically, everyone wore the same: a T-shirt, a shirt, a skirt. It’s this kind of casual comfort. We put it to an extreme,” he explained. “And this is something that feels new at Bottega – wearing clothes to maximum of the making, which is only known by the wearer.”

The set was created by Gaetano Pesce

Blazy had formulated the collection in “juxtaposition” with the New York-based Italian architect and urban planner Gaetano Pesce, whose highly graphic, sculptural work sits somewhere between industrial and tactile. It was true for the set he created for the show, set in a space in Fabbrica Orobia: normal, almost naïve chairs moulded in his colourful signature resin and adorned with various city-like graffiti like smiley faces and Bottega Veneta tagging. They graced a matching floor that felt like an abstract idea of the urban space. Blazy’s catwalk became his sidewalk: “The idea was ‘the world in a small room’. The idea was really to have the possibility to represent every city with different characters and put them in the landscape of Gaetano,” he said. “We had a lot of discussions about diversity.”

Blazy intensified his craftsmanship

As the show progressed, Blazy’s normcore became a lot less normal. The back seams of sleeves and trousers began to curve, rigidly sculpting arms and ankles through highly complex garment constructions. Tailored coats and coat dresses amplified the human silhouette in volume, and stiff-looking leather pieces formed figures around the body. “Of course, we tried to focus on the cut we’re trying to install, which is a very dynamic silhouette: a blade on the front and the side becomes movement,” he said. Those details gradually expanded until perverse banality started feeling more perverse artisanality – porn for the craftsmanship obsessives! As Blazy turned up the heat on his savoir-faire, things got even more climactic: intricate jacquard suits followed by laser-cut three-dimensional floral leather skirts, and mind-blowing fringe dresses woven and beaded by hand.

It was culturally ambigious

In Blazy and Pesce’s urban landscape, diversity was key. It wasn’t just true for the character cast, which spanned ages and nationalities, but for the cultural ambiguity of the clothes themselves. When Blazy employed motifs in prints or weaves, they felt at once familiar and abstract. “If Bottega is a bag company, you’re going somewhere. Bottega is about people who travel the world. They buy a dress, they find some pants. Is it from South East Asia, from Africa, from South America? We don’t know,” he said. “But we made them slightly more future.” In a fashion world obsessed with the provenance of references, his approach felt liberating – and perhaps genuinely ‘global’. The three graphic fringe dresses that closed the show, Blazy said, were his direct homage to the visual language of Gaetano.

Accessories were normcore 2.0

Because Blazy’s perverse banality called for fitting accessories, he styled models with leather bags resembling the paper carrier bags you might get in a nicer supermarket (and layered them with graphic leather bags) as well as the normcore canvas bags universal to any city in the world. If his Bottega Veneta collection was founded in diversity, its final message became about the elements that give us common ground, whoever and wherever we are.