From cruise to couture: how the new energy in fashion is changing the rules

The fashion world delivered five incredible shows over the weekend

Having disrupted the world in 2020, Covid-19 has also unleashed a certain rawness within the fashion universe.

It seems as if designers are taking the opportunity of the pause afforded by the pandemic to reset and refocus – and this seems to have rekindled the love of design that drew them all into the business in the first place.

The hectic, but rigid, schedules of different seasons and audiences seem to have gone pretty much out of the window, as was made evident at the weekend, when a smorgasbord of collections were shown, with haute couture, menswear, womenswear and resort all being unveiled at the same time.

Confusing? Definitely. But the bigger message coming through is that after years of having punishing timetables imposed upon them, brands now feel able to show new collections in a way that feels more relevant to them.

Jacquemus spring / summer 2021

Jaquemus Mens spring summer 2021. Courtesy Jacquemus
Jacquemus's spring / summer 2021 collection. Courtesy Jacquemus

Last year, Jacquemus held its fashion show in a lavender field. This season, it chose a wheat field outside Paris.

Hosted in front of a scaled-back audience, its spring / summer 2021 show was two things: firstly, it was genderless, with both men’s and women’s looks on display. Secondly, it was breathtakingly light. Tones of cream, buttermilk, ochre and soft grey reflected the crops surrounding the show, with a dash of sky blue for good measure. There were leaf-print cargo pants, half-tucked-in crumpled linen shirts, artfully misaligned jackets and witty bags that served as harnesses for a single plate, to drive home the new reality of social distancing.

Single-pleat fronted trousers came worn with shirts decorated with images of pitchers, bowls and other symbols of home life, while another shirt was strewn with the familiar squiggles of Spanish Surrealist, Joan Miro.

The women’s pieces delivered a pair of ultra-high waisted trousers (stopping somewhere mid-ribcage) and a simple sheath dress that ballooned out from below the hip in crisp white.

Louis Vuitton cruise 2021

Louis Vuitton Cruise 2021. Courtesy Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton cruise 2021. Courtesy Louis Vuitton

Creative director Nicolas Ghesquiere, and by default Louis Vuitton, delivered a dual collection that looked back as well as forward, revisiting past hits as well as introducing new ideas.

Most notably, the flashbacks came as frilled collars now over planetary-patterned jackets, as soft jersey jumpsuits, and on pin-tucked blouses. Rolled-up trousers and stripy leggings lent an easy, everyday feel to tougher pieces, such as tightly belted funnel-neck jackets worn with pumps, or wool and glossy-leather swing coats.

Working around the theme of a pack of cards, the four suits popped up across bags, including zip-top clutches, flap-fronted pieces and best of all, a shoulder strap bag in the shape of fanned cards.

With Ghesquiere's knack for plugging into the mood of his customers, these are guaranteed to be bestsellers.

Maison Margiela haute couture autumn / winter 2020

Maison Margiela haute couture autumn winter 2020. Courtesy Maison Margiela
Maison Margiela haute couture autumn winter 2020. Courtesy Maison Margiela

The ever unpredictable genius that is designer John Galliano released the latest Maison Margiela couture offering not as a show, but as a 50-minute film made in conjunction with fashion photographer Nick Knight.

Part show, part documentary, it follows the complex and intense process of creating a couture collection – from Galliano chatting with his studio team, to the skill of the atelier in actually making the pieces a reality. Here, too, nostalgia came into play, with Galliano looking back to the theatrical days of the New Romantics in 1980s London, where cash-strapped clubbers spent the week making looks to be worn on the dance floor at Blitz nightclub.

As is Galliano’s skill, he wove that storytelling and sense of handmade into this collection, making it about the pure romanticism of dressing up as an antidote to the grim reality of the present day.

Delivering veiled models in wispy bias-cut dresses worn under skilfully deconstructed jackets, this was a beautiful insight into one of fashion's most brilliant (if controversial) minds, and a showcase for his unmatched skill in cutting. Whether or not you are drawn to the clothes, anyone with even a passing interest in fashion would do well to watch this film.

Gucci cruise 2021

Gucci Resort 2021. Courtesy Gucci
Gucci cruise 2021. Courtesy Gucci

Another brand demanding a long attention span was Gucci, as it turned its cruise show into 12 non-stop hours of backstage live streaming. Predictably, not much happened for large chunks of the footage, but when the "show" finally arrived, it was both the debut of the collection and the advertising campaign for it.

Called Epilogue, the whole event carried a wonderful twist, in that the clothes were shown not on models, but on the Gucci team that actually designed them. The all-too-often anonymous studio team, who work long and hard to bring creative director Alessandro Michele's vision to life, were taken from the shadows and put front and centre.

On the final images, Post-It notes explain the name and role of each person, so we get to see the team clad in psychedelic florals and geometric prints, with belts, hats, sunglasses and, of course, bags.

Intimate and inviting, it worked to bring the viewers into the Gucci family and put faces to the different departments, while sparking the chicken-and-egg question: Is Michele inspired by his somewhat nerdy-looking team? Or has his team evolved to embrace his nerdy aesthetic? What a fabulous conundrum.

Salvatore Ferragamo resort 2021

Salvatore Ferragamo Resort 2021. Courtesy Ferragamo
Salvatore Ferragamo resort 2021. Courtesy Ferragamo

Designer Paul Andrew deliberately chose to shoot this collection on a beach and in the sunshine, as a counterbalance to the weeks of confinement everyone has struggled with.

Offering both men's and women's pieces, as with the Jacquemus collection, this, too, is bright, light and utterly effortless. Highlights include a pencil skirt cut from natural linen and teamed with a zip-up bomber jacket the colour of toffee. Flat-front trousers in dove grey with a two-tone short-sleeved shirt also stood out, along with a long coat in parchment-coloured cotton, with press stud side vents.

All so simple, so crisp and so perfectly wearable, its true beauty is the lack of razzmatazz, leaving good-quality, well-cut materials, to speak, instead.

Updated: July 20, 2020 09:53 AM


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