Fashion walks a tightrope between its as a business and its purpose as a creative outlet. Sometimes, one wins over the other and other times the balance is just right.
At the recent Milan Fashion Week, the pendulum managed to swing both ways in the one week and if there was one word to sum up the trends it would simply be archival.
Digging the troves of old collections to reinterpret iconic pieces for new audiences has become something of a failsafe for designers. In some cases, such as Tom Ford, it suits the purposes of continuity in the face of major change. In others, like BOSS, it becomes a vehicle of cathartic excavation.
Check out our favourites from the week that was in Milan Fashion Week.
Under the helm of new creative director Peter Hawkings and the first collection under the ownership of beauty giant Estee Lauder, it pointed to the continuity of the brand as an exemplar of American luxury. It was a greatest hits collection of Tom Ford through the ages, and through the brands. His time at Gucci, his foray into Yves Saint Laurent and of course the codes of his eponymous label. Rakish, lean, the best of the 90s when it referenced the chic loucheness of the 70s It was, for all purposes, a safe collection that commercially will no doubt do well. But it was still Tom for Tom Ford, although Hawkings the man seems carved from similar marble to the former boss right down to the tinted glasses he sees the world through.
This was perhaps one of those collections where business comes before the creative freedom. But it’s still early days and Hawkings has plenty of time to evolve the brand under his own hand.
Jil Sander’s perceived austerity in design is a masterclass in camouflage because beneath that so called minimalism is a collection that is rich puzzle of texture, shape and details. Workwear was deconstructed into abstract geometric shapes: oversized jackets, trousers that despite their volume retained the sharpness of tailoring. Built-in jewellery in the form of portholes on vests or metal lapel pins felt both organic and industrial, their fluid shapes bringing a weight to the lightness of the collection’s materiality.
The presence of python print on jackets and neon cat prints on shirting was all the confirmation that the audience needed that a new era at Jil was well underway as Luke and Lucie Meier reshape the brand for a new audience.
Oh Matthieu, how I love you. Let me count the ways… Unlike other older brands, Bottega Veneta’s archives are still relatively new. This is a good thing for someone like creative director Matthieu Blazy who can let his clear vision and strong creative voice shine without being hampered down by the past.
This press notes for this collection say that the inspiration was travel – both literally and metaphorically. Bottega’s signature treatment of leather to mimic the look and texture of other fabrics was still present, but it was knitwear and wool that was the hero of the collection. It created clothes that promised sumptuous comfort for those between times of transit. Even a train ride can be a holiday. If you’ve ever read Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel, and its “philosophical look at the ubiquitous but peculiar activity of travelling ‘for pleasure'” you’ll understand the delight at seeing clothes designed with this in mind.
The gingham, the irreverent femininity that thread through to the menswear and liberal use of pink with bright pops of lemon and lime, it’s easy to see why some would associate this collection with the ongoing force majeure that is Barbiecore. But the collection, taken on whole, felt more coded to The Wizard of Oz and the technicolour tripfest of Dorothy as she dances her way towards the Emerald City. According to Donatella, the starting point for this collection was her brother’s 1995 Fall line, a departure from the BDSM-like sex appeal of previous collections – Versace wasn’t in Kansas anymore. Twinsets, damier print shirts and matching shorts and bedazzled denim – it’s impossible not to view the collection and not be left grinning.
Apparently, BOSS creative director Marco Falcioni found inspiration for this collection not so much in the brand archives but the archives of an era where BOSS would have reigned: the heyday of corporate uniforms but through the lens of Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich.
This was the revival of the powersuit but done through today’s lens where, rather than a connecting trend, is delivered in a way to be exaggerated and take the aesthetic to the extreme. This collection of “corpcore” as Falcioni calls it is both a nod to BOSS’ cultural legacy of workwear but also almost a provocation. Work from home, casual offices, hybrid work – the formality of office attire doesn’t have the same strangle hold on corporate culture. Is this, then, Falcioni’s vision for youth who see the past as a museum of potential costume? Fingers crossed. How fun to witness a new generation mimicking the C-Suite executive as streetwear.