“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” — Bill Cunningham
Speaking of armor, there is no time like the present to seek protection from the elements, both seen and unseen. What better way to face an ongoing pandemic than to create beautiful armor in the form of luxury fashion? In medieval times, armourers were specialist smiths who crafted only armor. The tendency was to work alone or in very small companies. However, in present times, with the onset of Covid-19, designers are now faced with unexpected disruption: Closed workshops. Canceled trips. Remote fittings. Virtual trunk shows. Limited access to materials and craftspeople. Store closures. Zoom calls. And being forced to spend time inside, alone, left to their own devices— to find their own individual inspiration to create in a time of uncertainty.
What impact did this have on the SS21 collections? It gave designers time to slow down, pivot and edit themselves down to a more thoughtful, heartfelt and sustainably responsible output of apparel, forever changing the future of fashion in real time. With supply chain delivery dates— spelling trouble for delivery to retailers, Covid-19 has accomplished something that seemed near-impossible pre-pandemic: it has forced brands to perhaps reconnect the broken timeline of the selling cycle vs. the need-to-buy cycle, and now Spring/Summer collections should be sent to the stores during the actual Spring and Summer months. Returning to one’s roots while spending time home alone has provided the inspirational impetus behind many of the SS21 Fashion Week collections shown in New York, London, Milan, Paris, Tokyo and Shanghai, or from any virtual place designers and fashion houses have deemed appropriate to show.
Home can be defined as the best place to truly celebrate the simple things life has to offer, and each of the brand and designers featured here has used at least one of the following terms in describing their collection: comfort, serenity, spontaneity, exuberance, security, DIY, tradition, novelty, nature, craft, innovation, timelessness, sustainability, patchwork, love, handmade, relaxed, fun, escapism, repurpose, restore, human, mix-and-match, memories, imagination, simplicity and creativity. By aggregating all these beautiful concepts into one, there is no stronger armor that can be crafted to defend fashion against the ravages of our current reality. See here within what I like to refer as “The Resurrection Of Fashion”.
AMI SS21 offers a thoughtful and balanced wardrobe, in which rational and utilitarian elements are paired with spontaneity and exuberant touches. Both womenswear and menswear feature a palette of serene and subtle colors like natural ecru, warm beige, pistachio and lilac interacting with rich and fresher tones like emerald green and purple. The Spring Summer 2021 show marked the first time AMI presented its collections on the runway as part of the Paris Women’s Fashion Week, after historically being a part of the menswear calendar. Price in USD. N/A yet
The Anna Sui SS21 Heartland Collection took its inspiration from ‘home.’ Encompassing the elements of comfort, security, the smells of delectable meals and desserts being made with care, a place to think about what is happening in the world and people loved. Clothes with a homespun feel––comfortable dresses with eyelet lace and trims, old t-shirts reimagined with tie-dye, “Daisies”; aprons with ric rac, and embroidered tea towels from the 1930s created from fabrics reused in stunning ways––a version of sustainability used to create a better world––a better home for all of us. Taking this moment to reset, creating something new out of something old was really what Anna Sui was all about. The Heartland collection is full of what we need now––comfortable, locally made, versatile pieces without a lot of fuss; flowy apron-inspired pinafore dresses, quilted jackets, shorts, negligée maxi dresses, bucket hats, and embellished sweatshirts that can be worn around the house or on Zoom and Teva sandals. Florals in soothing mauve, cream, jade, black and cedar, combined with painted laces with graduated color, embroideries, crochet trim, and eyelet brings a homemade touch. This collection is all about that homey DIY feel, with a little bit of polish thrown in. Hope for a better future. Price in USD. $1063
For Cecilie Bahnsen’s first showing at Paris Fashion Week, she brought to life an image in her mind of a woman on a journey across a landscape – a symbolic wanderer. Cecilie Bahnsen is known for bringing the traditions and exquisite fabrics of haute couture to her modern Danish sensibility. All novelty fabrics are designed in-house and made in Europe. The label is also using recycled fabrics, such as this season’s cashmere knit and faille. Price in USD. N/A yet
Cinq à Sept
The Cinq à Sept Spring 2021 collection originally drew inspiration from natural environments around the world. Designed during COVID-19 while in quarantine, the thought process evolved and references from urban cityscapes began to play into how we thought about the collection. Longing for the outdoors and finding space for natural elements in our urban environment of New York City became of utmost importance. Instinctively, the collection pivoted and the design and aesthetic became more about evoking a sense of love celebrating life’s little joys. The prints and colors for Spring 2021 translate feelings of freedom and breeziness that we longed for during months of isolation. Our Kacy dress features our beautiful woodblock zebra print which feels reflective of the wild metropolis inspiration behind this season. Price in USD. $425
CIVIDINI goes in search of the elements that have characterized its birth and its growth at an international level. Quality underlying a rigorous design, search for innovative materials while in the wake of the noblest Italian textile tradition, recovery of ancient craft techniques interpreted in a modern key, cornerstones of CIVIDINI’s design, are also renewed in this collection through the revival of the stylistic features that are the distinctive hallmarks. So here are some looks that capture the spirit of the times, a time full of critical issues but also of momentum towards the future, with proposals that thanks to the use of quality materials, precious workmanship and timeless lines, guarantee the attention that CIVIDINI has always dedicated to sustainability whose first step is precisely to be able to create garments that one would never want to part with.
The Dolce&Gabbana Spring/Summer 2021 collection, Patchwork di Sicilia, is a tribute to Sicily, an infinite source of inspiration for the Designers. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have visually woven together a tapestry which recounts the fabrics and patterns you might find in Palermo, Catania, Siracusa and Agrigento – creating pieces of patchwork: mixing of fabrics, atmospheres, colors, brocade, poplin, georgette and chiffon.
In this new collection the Designers have captured their experience of “fatto a mano” – handmade craftsmanship. They hope to inspire a love and appreciation for the arts, handmade crafts, and sustainable fashion within a new generation. Each piece is crafted and interpreted by a skilled hand, so that each unique piece has its own personality. Each artisan and each tailor have sewn together fabrics in a distinctive way according to shapes and colors, allowing each piece of fabric to create its own story. Price upon request
Silhouettes for the Giorgio Armani Spring/Summer 2021 collection are essential, soft, and fluid: a blend of pure lines and neutral colors —grey, beige, black, blue— that light up with occasional geometries, swarming with rhythmic patterns, following an idea of ton sur ton that is real but also metaphorical, but never prevails over the rest. What emerges is the personality of a woman and a man who are free from aesthetic constraints, careful instead to express themselves through what they wear. Whether everything is matte or shimmering, it is the sense of measure that keeps asserting itself, overcoming time. These are timeless thoughts, as narrated by the voice of renowned and multi-awarded Italian actor Pierfrancesco Favino in the 20-minute video-documentary that precedes and introduces the Giorgio Armani Spring/Summer 2021 show, and that, through an emotional edit of images, memories and archive interviews spans decades of Armani’s dazzlingly consistent style, before making way to the new collection, broadcast for the first time on television. In the video-documentary, Giorgio Armani’s language evolves relentlessly, whilst staying firm in its roots.
The Hermès Spring 2021 collection is about the freedom to freshly reinvent and to dream of a new connection. Feminine silhouettes are fashioned like a breathing second skin. Light weaves, knits and leather are woven like chainmail – Summer armor for times recaptured. The Hermès fashion landscape is about timelessness and this collection showcases intelligently chic and purposeful fashion.
The Jil Sander SS21 Collection embodies tailoring, craftsmanship and attention that is extremely feminine. The layered transparencies of jackets, tunics, trousers, and shirts draw silhouettes that are both airy and lean with softer volumes for evening; closer to the body for daytime. The tailoring of the suits is relaxed with a tone that speaks of patience and of a true sense of time. In today’s atmosphere questions abound, yet beauty and quality remain essential. The collection celebrates the ideas of consciousness, appreciation, and positivity that can help us all move forward. Price available upon request.
The world is crying, so are the flowers in all the prints developed for the collection. Archival Kenzo poppies and hortensias were given a digital crying effect. From flowers the primal feeling of protection and cocooning became an ode to the bees, the regulators of the planet. Now, more than ever we are overwhelmed by a sense of urgency to take care and protect our world. Bees and the beekeepers with their mesmerizing clothing and hats that echo so strongly the fragility and distance imposed and needed today. Kenzo has always been about fun, celebration and optimism. Felipe Oliveira Baptista wanted to put that raw, daring and curious energy into the clothes. It is time to look at things differently and from new perspectives. Time to pull everything apart and put it back together again in a surprising, free and innovative yet meaningful way. Price in USD. – N/A
The collection draws influences from the desert’s natural palette of lilac pink, orange, ivory, gold, tan and metallic silver; alongside futuristic eroded rock formations to render this sci-fi vision to life. The inspiration for this look was mixing natural earthly elements with modern ones. Raffia adds texture to the collection as it is intricately woven together with silver beading, releasing into shimmering fringe. “These textile juxtapositions result in the creation of a layered desert landscape that encourages us to imagine a future beyond the present when nature and technology collide and live in harmony,” shared Elizabeth Kennedy, Creative Director of LBV. Price in USD. Not available for purchase yet.
An extremization of fashion, magnified in all its theatricality and sculpturally, The LOEWE SS21 collection is a story of inflated volumes, protruding flaps, outsized hips and dancing knots. Creative Director Jonathan Anderson embraces escapism in his own way, putting the pleasure of playing with fashion to the fore. Dramatic silhouettes result from a progressive exploration of the craft of pattern making. Price: Available March 2021
Stepping into a territory that is still stylistically vague. A sensitive zone that erases gender and promises exponential creative possibilities. What does an in-between garment look like? What kind of cut can dissolve masculine and feminine? What wardrobe might s/he look good in? A fascinating new exploration for fashion, and the promise of a great journey that Louis Vuitton sets out to discover by abolishing these last boundaries. Finding expression in a landscape that is tenuous and vast, but also neutral: giving it color, forging its character, inciting radicality, giving it personality. This is but the beginning of a reflection that is open, stimulating and fundamentally conscious… Price available upon request.
For the Spring-Summer 2021 ‘Co-Ed’ Collection, Maison Margiela interprets the concord of the connectivity of interdependence and how it becomes revalued in times of separation, as seen in the reliance of one person upon another through the tango. Vigorous and intense, the dance is cathartic: releasing the spirit of the old, heralding new beginnings; and beckoning change. The idea of storied garments reflects an old soul echoed in poverino pieces spliced from several repurposed components such as a jumper, a shirt and a vest into one single piece, their layers cut away to reveal the garment’s structure. Along with selected bags and shoes, it is created under the Maison Margiela label of Recicla: genuine vintage finds, restored and re-appropriated as limited-edition garments or accessories, and sold in the house’s own stores. Like the cathartic process of the tango, cutting through the folds of lived-in garments is an emancipating practice: it liberates the energy of the old and reinvigorates the cloth.
Spring/Summer 2021 Prada womenswear is, by its nature, a dialogue – the debut collection by co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, a creative conversation in progress. This season, in a period where the mediation between technology and humanity has become vital – bringing us together, even as we are apart – inspiration is drawn from this inherently contemporary and inevitable fusion. The collection explores the notion of uniform, touching on multiple different interpretations of that concept – a uniform of Prada, of a community, a visual representation of identity, of shared and embraced values, a way of thinking. Garments are drawn around the body, held by the hand. It is an innately human gesture that can be transformative, translated into the architecture of pieces, to cut and form language. A requisite component of uniform is simplicity: recognition, reducing clothing to an essence, to the essential. The wrap, a precise rectangle of fabric, is a logical outcome of this mode of exploration of reduction, a symbol representative of the collection’s overall considerations.
Creative Director Zoe Turner said “we played with the idea of virtual calls – beautiful tailoring from the waist-up.” She then added “Knitwear is all about a relaxed and sophisticated way to dress, so it lends itself well to our times” Price in USD. Shorts $895 and Jacket $2195 available at www.stjohnknits.com in January 2021
The SS21 collection presented by the Maison’s new Artistic Director Tom Van Dorpe explores the concept “How soon is tomorrow?” Both women’s and men’s wardrobes are united, offering powerful visual contrasts and mix and match couple looks. The Kooples woman dons a re-visitation of The Kooples classic silhouettes in an oversized shirt dress.
“The Tory Burch Spring/Summer 2021 collection was inspired by memories. The purposeful craftsmanship of classrooms in my Quaker elementary school; woven baskets hanging in the mud room on our farm in Valley Forge; handmade quilts from Pennsylvania Dutch shops I used to visit in Reading, and hand-crafted details from the places around the world I have been to and hope to see again. Beauty rests in utility. A Shaker maxim that reflects the mindset my team and I were in while designing this collection. We worked through the challenges of uncertainty, isolation, and distance, using our imaginations to travel in our minds and to find new ways to connect. We emerged with a renewed interest in restraint, simplicity and creativity, translated through timeless, uncomplicated clothing that defines classic sportswear — it feels right and what women are looking for in a world compressed by seismic cultural changes.” — Tory Price in USD. Cotton voile caftan with removable collar, $498; Lace-up sandal, $298; Tassel and filigree bead necklace, $298