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Reflection and reinvention embody the runways of 2021

The upcoming spring collections of fashion households from Milan to Paris showcase the rebirth and creativity that nestle in the fashion industry

The series of Spring/Summer 2021 Collections from fashion households across Milan and Paris herald runways and shows in person and on digital platforms, while birthing reincarnation and resuscitation subsequent to isolation and lockdown. A leap of change crosses the designs of this season’s collections. Such a transition shelters the ability of self to discover their true nature. In turn, the confidence to embrace one’s identity taps the prowess of sensuality, and Hermes fears nothing in exploring such carnality. The fashion house speaks about the freedom to reinvent and the dream of a new connection. The conversation erupts into the col rouleau, naked backs and hip-skimming bodysuits to accompany the trimmed ribbons, a tablier that transforms from a top into trousers then into a coat, and silhouettes fashioned like a second skin that breathes and affirms.

If discovery of self, sews itself into the garments, fashion houses have to pivot back to their point of origin to reminisce about the mementos that have solidified their foundations. Fendi casts a reflection on the time one has spent with their families. Intimacy dominates Silvia Venturini Fendi’s signposts of life, and such a statement comes to light in its fabrics made of linen romanced with cotton, feathers, fur and eiderdown quilting. Lightness and depth intermingled in faded flora print linens and latticework furs depict the journey and return to one’s original home.

While circling back to one’s roots can charter a shift in paying homage through fashion, Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Givenchy grapple with the change in society’s mindset on the question of identity. Gender gushes with no specifications. Such thinking breaks through individuality that was thought of as singular. These three fashion houses march forward to echo this culture into their fabrics. Louis Vuitton steps in a vague zone, erases the boundaries of gender, and promises aggregation in upholding this thesis. Colors that know no gender flash in each piece of its clothing. Detailed cut-outs, cloud prints, and suits that chew on the 70s mark the entrance of the fashion house to an area of fluid identity. It waves the flag of one’s personality and character without fear of showing who they are. Givenchy reflects the chosen identity of the wearer in its outfits. It practices the use of a cotton Ottoman for both genders in outerwear, technical taffeta in tailoring, and structured Punto di Milano jersey to evoke more forms in dressmaking. The unisex Cut-out bag in its many iterations, tops the accessory that coils around the collection. Matthew M. Williams’ rendition of Givenchy restores the essence of humanity through eradicating gender while upholstering his first collection with a nexus of utility and luxury. Balenciaga promotes sustainability as the arch of its collection’s narratives. In doing so, outfits must be worn more than one way and by anyone. Unisex pieces of clothing contextualize its compendium to reduce the impact of the production on the environment. This means sweatshirts turn into headwear or are attached to the waistbands of pants. Upcycle snakes through the fabrics with the shoelace-fur coat, denim-scrap knitwear, and patchworks of deadstock boots, purses, and motorcycle pants. The pillars of Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Givenchy project neutrality in gender.

While they embark on an exploration towards one’s gender, Dior, Prada, Miyake, and Y/Project dive into the redefinition of their ideologies. Dior modifies its concept of fashion through the language of cutting and shaping. The skewness that complements plus the colors, styles, and designs that nod to Mediterranean and Roman terrains appear vivid in its anthology. For Dior, the crisis has changed our rituals and bodily attitudes, which Prada resonates with. Raf Simons’ first season of co-directing Prada positions himself to adopt simplicity in the fashion house’s designs. There is a vibe of sophistication that wafts over its t-shirt jersey, fleece, re-nylon, embroidered duchesse satin, and chiné taffeta. Each piece of clothing speaks about uniformity, simplicity, and luxury. If simplicity ranks as a priority, Miyake storms through as a believer. It plays with the ways to make garments compact: tying, rolling, folding, stacking, and layering. It disrupts utility and convenience as it attempts to convey the wonder and jubilation people feel when they unpack the garments and see their transformation. Such joy in witnessing transformation abides by the visual law of Y/Project. After all, the fashion house follows the code of joyfulness. It pushes the boundaries of its designs through ballooned trench coats, sweaters, and dresses, pants with a blazing fin from a front panel, jackets and tops that jet from symmetrical patterns into swirling forms, and blazer necklines that second as scarves. The fun in designing and euphoria in disruption live in Y/Project’s veins.

The oath of optimism becomes a promise to uphold for Acne, Kenzo, Sunnei, and Miu Miu. Their designs, curated and presented during the pandemic, pops positivity in what the future holds in the fashion industry. Acne embeds streetwear in its compendium to match the light palettes and bleached-out looks. It draws a statement that streetwear and high fashion collide as one to be worn every day. Kenzo references to a beekeeper aesthetic to evoke the safety measures one practices. Hooded hats reach the waist and feet while floral prints and light tones color the fabrics. For Kenzo, protecting oneself requires no sacrifice in style. Sunnei empties the water in swimming pools to conduct its fashion runway. It attempts to jump back to the years of one’s youth with color-block textiles which outline the garment’s neoprene and nylon. Foolishness and courage in bygone days wind through the fashion house’s belief, two components the fashion industry welcome as it fights off the pandemic’s blow. If Sunnei has introduced the use of swimming pools, Miu Miu locks itself in an amphitheater for its collection. Another activity that the pandemic has halted is sports, and Miu Miu pays homage to its revival in the future through a series of sportswear displayed on an empty stadium. The bold colors and streamlined shapes harness the excitement to be back on the sports field, scoring goals in style.

On the other end of the spectrum, Versace, Valentino, and Vìen craft their own underworld, separating their designs from considering just the colors, style, and combinations. The universe that emerges under their philosophies manifests into a parallel dimension drenched in a tinge of spell, potions, mythologies, folktales, and romanticism. Versace indulges in fantasy and dives into a dreamscape. Its designs paint the scenarios deep down in the water. Drawing its inspiration from the natural world and the idea of being in tune with the elements, Versace creates waves and frothy ruffles on dresses and gowns that move like the tides. When the fashion house claims to invoke the prowess of the otherworld, it pledges to its promise. In Versacepolis, colors, creatures, and crash of ocean waves co-exist. Such allure of magic transpires a vibe of romanticism. Valentino adopts this language where its craft and couture mingle and merge, introducing a meeting that ends on a high note. Flowers bloom on nylon pieces, swarm as prints, turn into lace, and lace becomes straw. The adoration towards rebirth flowers in each outfit. The waft of romance between florals and nylon garments also relaxes in Vìen. Instead of allowing romanticism to depict its designs, Vìen calls upon wistfulness to drive its collection. It revisits vintage fashion, classics, and the cinematography of the indie music landscape, both in past and present. Transparent poly hugs florals to remind the growth of lavender, thyme, and wild herbs in the garden of grandparents’ house. Nylon cordura peppers the jackets and trench coats while bomber jackets underscore cuts on sleeves and back. Valentino, Versace, and Vìen welcome the individuality and multiply it through nostalgia and magic.

The saga of magic continues as it broadens what it encompasses. No longer does it speak about illusions, daydreams, and the supernatural. It traverses the enchantment the visuals capture. In such a situation, details become the hallmark to the eyes. The frenzy creative directors and designers accumulated during lockdown bursts forward into a series of elaboration that weaves into their designs. Marni, MM6, and Dries Van Noten shepherd the examples. Marni crops a coat, slashes a bathing suit to turn it into a tank top, glues a thick sole to a pair of shoes, adds an extra, long zip to a bag, and cuts a tutu in two. What sparks conversations over Marni’s collection lies in its advocacy towards humanity. The presentation of its anthology builds up the values the society must emulate. Its outfits transform as vehicles of freedom and self-expression until it echoes the pulp of community. When it comes to the festivity of exaggeration, Dries Van Noten reverberates such a methodology too. Shorts become Vivian Sassen’s foundation both for men and women followed by high-waisted skirts and pants, wide-scooped necklines, scalloped forms on backs, and balloon sleeves. There are stark and subtle contrasts of intensity and shading in colors, encapsulating the switch from monochromatic to hues of pastel to seize the solarization of New Zealand artist Len Lye’s cinematography and visuals. MM6 adopts hyperbole in style and designs, then tones them down to mix and match. Pinstripe and poplin sleeves are cropped to desktop elbow length, trouser legs wrap as a V-neck jumpsuit, a skirt lining extends beyond denim, the trench or blouse blanche transforms as a jacket and skirt, and the white calico cover of a Parisian café chair becomes a short cotton dress. Marni, MM6, and Dries Van Noten’s expansive designs celebrate the openness of unfinished, embrace distortion as an oath to fashion, and equate rebellion in methodologies to thinking and design as progressive.

On top of elaboration in designs, the contrast in colors, style, and designs play a pivotal role in the recent anthologies of Chanel, Dries Van Noten, and Valentino. There is an interplay between shades that burn the retina and palettes that tranquilize the eyes. Chanel maximizes the transition of hues with its black tweed suits and jeans in fluorescent colors. The combination demands full attention and continues through its dresses and t-shirts printed with letters of ‘Chanel’ in neon-lights to pair up with pale pink capri pants. Asymmetry speaks well in its outfits embroidered with sequins and bermuda short suits. While Chanel constructs a transition between style and colors, Dries Van Noten takes a swing in skewness of shades that gambles between the stark and subtle contrasts of intensity and shading from monochromatic to hues of pastel. Valentino follows suit with the tones of nude that allow the body to fuse with one with the other and bright hues that catch attention. Colors speak volumes. Styles blend. Combinations capture visuals. Unawareness to how each piece of clothing flows and fuses appears foreign to the recent collections. Each shade evokes as thought of and well-curated with every sliver of the garments’ functionality in mind.

Chanel
CHANEL

The dilemma of the pandemic has catapulted the fashion houses to tinker with their creativity and resourcefulness. The time of isolation has given birth to designs brimming with elaboration for Marni, MM6, and Dries Van Noten, liberty to toy with contrasts for Chanel, a trip to nostalgia for Fendi, exhibition of imagination, magic, and illusions for Valentino, Vìen, and Versace, eradication of questions on identity and sensuality for Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Balenciaga, and Hermes, redefinition of ideologies for Dior, Prada, Miyake, and Y/Project, and oaths of optimism for Acne, Kenzo, Sunnei, and Miu Miu.

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