So much for comfort dressing. All those predictions about elastic waists and leggings and flats and the way the pandemic had changed dressing forever turned out not to be so true after all. When both Gucci’s Alessandro Michele and Donatella Versace (not to mention Dolce & Gabbana and Ambush) open their shows wearing a suit — dark, fitted, slightly oversized — there’s clearly something going on. And it is not the pivot that was once predicted.
But hey, the world isn’t such a comforting place right now.
“Over the past few weeks, I’ve felt myself getting really serious,” said Walter Chiapponi of Tod’s, who also started his no-nonsense display of plush tailoring with a somber, dark single-breasted trouser suit under a dark overcoat. “I started cutting away all the frivolous things.”
The suit — with its associations with power, status, gender and non-conformity, armor and protection (not to mention maturity) — is arguably the piece of clothing most appropriate for the time.
It began to reappear on its runway in New York and now appears to be reaching critical mass.
It was the most dominant piece at Gucci, a brand that returned to the Milan catwalk after a two-year absence with a show on a set with funhouse mirrors and lit by flashing strobes. Out of the dissonance came double-breasted suits in navy blue and sky blue and chocolate brown; suits with tuxedo lapels and cowhide trim. Suits covered with bristly spikes. Suits with thin ties and big bags and crazy accessories. Suits that remind you of the appeal of this item in the first place: the way it can be put on, so that you immediately feel girded for the day. A suit for every personality!
So many suits, or styles juxtaposed (sometimes it was shorts or blazers), the whole thing was like a fashion show for men, albeit one that also featured women. Of the 84 looks, only 10 featured skirts, dresses or, in one case, a lace teddy bear. What was the point.
Seven years ago, before he was even officially named designer of the brand, Mr. Michele held his first show for Gucci, turning the brand image – and to some extent fashion – upside down by filling it with conventionally feminine items. such as blouses, pastels, bows and filigree transparency, and sparking a conversation about gender and emotional inclusivity that is still going on.
But while there’s a tendency to focus on what that means in the context of men wearing what used to be considered women’s clothing, it’s actually rooted in the suit and the way women appropriated it decades ago in their ascent to independence and power (a conversation that is still going on, by the way). With this show, Mr. Michele just reminded everyone of the fact.
The only thing as ubiquitous as the suit on the show—besides the excited screeching at the presence of ASAP Rocky in the front row and a heavily pregnant Rihanna, belly out and headgear on—was a collaboration with Adidas. The German sportswear brand has become fashion’s favorite non-fashion partner (a short list of its collaborators includes Prada, Rick Owens, Stella McCartney, Missoni and the one who started it all, Yohji Yamamoto). And Mr Michele said in a press conference after the show that he had been obsessed with Adidas since childhood.
But instead of sporting Gucci classics, Michele turned the tables and formalized the sporting goods, adding the Adidas signature of three white stripes to the sides of his suits or the top of a corset and the trefoil- logo to use as logo. the breast pocket of blazers, processed in a print, an enlarged version on bags.
It was just such a clear and witty message about which kind of dressing was really the dominant kind.
Suits you sir
It’s probably no coincidence that Ennio Capasa, the founder and former designer of Costume National who made his name with the slick black suit before leaving that brand eight years ago, chose to return this season with a new line, Capasa. Or that it featured an update to its signature customization (natch), but with some of the stiffness stripped out.
After all, there’s a reason the suit lasted so long in the first place. (This isn’t quite an old-style rediscovery by a generation enamored with vintage; tech bros aside, in most walks of power, the suit is never quite gone.)
One reason it’s a classic, as Luke and Lucie Meier suggested to Jil Sander, by sprinkling various Greek and Roman sculptures around their show space, framing their sculpted felt wool miniskirt suits and sleeveless coat dresses, mid-calf and caught by a flat bow in the neck. There is a Zen balance in their work between minimalism of line and material tactility (also really desirable accessories) that speaks softly and packs a big punch.
However, when it comes to power dynamics, few designers are as attuned as Ms. Versace. After all, she had actor Julia Fox, who knows a thing or two about dominance (both headlines, thanks to her recent flirtation with Kanye West, and being an early sideline), in her front row, and pinstriped pants and pencil wide-leg skirts, pastel satin capo 90s overcoats and power miniskirt suits in exaggerated houndstooth tweed on her runway. All paired with corsets that talked about both sex and body shields, and greasy PVC tights.
Together with towering twin platforms, they made the models look like masters – and mistresses – of an alternate universe. One worth exploring.
Certainly, one more directly relevant than the escapist party-in-the-desert parade of animal print, surplus and the Silk Road at Etro. Or the melee of striped knits and quasi-street at Missoni — a brand that seems so unclear as to what exactly it stands for that even a catwalk filled with famous models like Iris Law and Eva Herzigova couldn’t hide the confusion.
Or for that matter, the high-concept claptrap on offer at Marni, where Francesco Risso set out to outdo his riveting be-in from last season with entirely different results.
The show was held in a dark and cold warehouse planted with weeds and sprinkled with soil, with a kind of concrete knoll/slope in the middle and no seats. The show featured models meandering through the standing crowd (including Mr. Risso, who put himself on his shows last season, an initially charming surprise that’s starting to look more like a vanity project). Each was followed by a guide in a stocking cap and a tattered coat with a flashlight to illuminate the road, until finally they both climbed the slope and descended back into the crowd, which had been clamoring desperately – and often fruitlessly – to see. .
Too bad, because Mr. Risso is a talented designer who really knows how to saturate his work with feeling. There seemed to be a lot to make and restore. Some customization; some silky, embroidered dresses. Lots of handmade looking crazy headwear.
Then the audience fled into the sun and into the backyard, where it was revealed that the models were enjoying a feast of cakes and bubbly on two long tables atop scattered cobalt sand; the show after the show, with mr. Risso who held court with great enthusiasm.
He talked about “courage” and “community” and the fact that all the models had brought personal talismans to work in their outfits, seemingly unaware that who in the world knew what they were? Or that instead of bringing everyone together, the staging had just pushed them apart.
In appearance, it does not suit anyone.