A Tale of Three Cities, with collections from MM6, Pucci, Tom Ford and Sonia Rykiel
Call it a Tale of Three, not Two, Cities. It speaks volumes about how much the pandemic has turned the international fashion calendar upside down, that serious editors had to open Sunday watching an MM6 show video in Milan, before tuning into New York, which woke up to Tom Ford’s latest ideas, and finishing the evening in Paris, where Sonia Rykiel unveiled its first collection since becoming insolvent in 2019.
No day has summed up quite so well just how scrambled the runway seasons have been, with shows and cities overlapping at will, without, however, dampening the creativity of designers, as these these Fall/Winter 2021 collections revealed.
MM6 Maison Margiela
Capturing the mood of the times, MM6, the more youthful line of Masion Margiela, staged a show in reverse mode, beginning with a model in a ripped-up Aran sweater brandishing a sign reading "Fin," or end.
Lingerie tops cut upside down, tunics sewn inside out, Harris tweed-style top coats cut into hoodies, techy pink blouses morphed like musketeer’s capes, and stupendous Perfectos with red silk matelassé sleeves. Not only has Covid scrambled our lives, its has also mashed up the division between garments.
While the MM6 collections are designed by an anonymous collective, all looks boasted the asymmetrical influence of John Galliano, a Gibraltar-born Briton creating for Margiela, a Parisian house founded by a Belgian conceptualist that is now owned by Italian fashion billionaire Renzo Rosso.
All displayed on a cast marching around a dingy cabaret, as a pianist on a white piano played spacey jazz and an unseen audience applauded each passage. As well they should, for this was top notch de-constructivism for our times.
Emilio Pucci is an Italian brand founded by a Florentine nobleman, which is controlled by the giant French conglomerate LVMH. In recent seasons it has practiced the savvy strategy of collaborating with happening young independent designers to create its runway collections – most recently, Christelle Kocher from Paris.
This season, with the lockdown rendering that policy moot, Pucci called on an in-house team, which concentrated on the traditional mission of the house: dressing the very well heeled in expensive resorts.
High-color quilted bomber jackets, bodysuits suggesting the models wearing them were two-meters tall, and neatly cut pleated dresses. All in swirling and opulent acidic prints from the house’s famed archive – bearing names that suggested high living, such as Cervinia or Cortina d’Ampezzo.
All rather pretty, but somehow not remotely relevant. A collection that looked as if nothing had changed in the past 15 months. Fashion caught in a time warp, and all the less interesting for that.
Tom Ford is an American designer designing for an American fashion house, which he also controls.
As reported, Ford was forced to push back the presentation of his collection from its originally scheduled date of Wednesday, February 17, apparently due to Covid preventing him from having a fully staffed atelier.
Designers have generally taken one of two tracks this season, either focusing on comfortable luxury and practical clothes, or betting that the lockdown will end this fall and that women will be dying to go out and look glamorous. Ford is 100% a supporter of the second camp. His models look thoroughly sexy, and very much on the market for a new lover.
Vamping in acid-dyed jeans and barely-there georgette and lace tops, showing meters of leg in leather hot pants or elastic cashmere logo mini skirts held on by chain belts strutting their stuff in micro-mesh cocktails worn under enveloping white plongé leather puffers. Best of all, the six-button blazer-cocktails, or the rusty-hued crushed velvet jackets worn with nothing underneath.
"Fierce, powerful and badass are words that resonate with me this season. I mean, who doesn’t want to be badass. Especially after being trapped at home for a year," explained Ford in his program notes.
Whether the Tom Ford guy will show up to dates with all this hot totty is slightly debatable, seeing as one third of Ford’s men's collection was focused on dressing gowns. Albeit superb leopard-print or blue sapphire psychedelic robes, worn with tie-dyed pajamas.
However, when the guys did get dressed up it was with enormous panache. Two of his models even wore the same chocolate zebra-print blazers and rusty velvet tuxes as Tom’s gals.
Ford may not be a revolutionary designer, and his stylistic references are rather retro, but the fact is, if one really wants to look sharp this fall and make a really good entrance, then one could do an awful lot worse than shopping at Tom Ford. For guys and girls.
Sunday evening also marked the return of Sonia Rykiel, the first display since the house went into receivership in 2019.
Turned out it was little more that a teaser on social media, but what there was, was actually very good. Rykiel, who passed away in 2018, was know as the Queen of the Knits, and this mini virtual show seen on social media was almost entirely made up of knitwear.
Historically, Sonia was also famous for being the first designer to place text on knitwear, something this collection did with considerable skill. Running the name in sporting graphic down sleeves, placing it in rainbow colors on top of multiple stripes, and playing with great iconic sketches of Paris landmarks.
All worn by a youthful and diverse cast in a collection entitled "Follow the Stripes," and generally expressing the contemporary longing for optimism. Once again, designed by an in-house team, but one that seems to understand the current zeitgeist.
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