Step out in style with the latest threads. Robyn Tucker-Peck introduces the latest looks of the season from the major fashion houses
If you Google “what is fashion?”, you’ll find a variety of meanings. Fashion is a popular style or practice. Fashion is a global industry. Fashion is a way of celebrating diversity and variety. Fashion is the dominant style in a given culture at a certain time. All these are of course true in their own context. Whether you are a man or a woman, what is fashion to you? For many years it was about what I liked and what I thought suited me, but the question of what fashion was never made clearer to me than in 2008 when I was working for a luxury lifestyle magazine in Hong Kong. I’d returned to Asia after many years in North America with my husband, who had taken a position in Hong Kong with a leading British bank. Coming back was thrilling and exciting and I was so happy to be back on my old stamping grounds. I’ve worked in the magazine business my entire career, but my most exciting and rewarding experiences were in Asia. In particular, the people I met there always made my job intriguing and challenging.
One of these encounters was in Hong Kong with the regional head of a very large fashion company. I’d arranged an interview with the vice president, who’d been recently transferred from Paris. I arrived at his office and was warmly greeted, his demeanour immediately putting me at ease. We discussed the fashion industry at length, myself sharing experiences in North America and what I thought fashion was, comparing that with the trends in Asia. “Fashion”, he said, “Is personal art. It is up to each person how they want to mix their clothing, handbags, shoes and jewellery. This is what makes it interesting.” In essence, he said nothing has to match if you do not want it to. Everything is your personal decision, not a planned and directed set of must-do’s but being able to look at yourself as a blank canvas on which you put whatever colours and shapes you want. The freedom to not be limited, but to explore your preferences with no parameters.
I’d never looked at it quite that way before, but from that day I looked at fashion with a completely different view. I respected each person I saw on the street as having created their own art with the colours and patterns they chose.
As countries start to open up after the pandemic we can renew our creativity and look at fashion as our personal art, taking inspiration from the artists and craftsmen of the fashion industry like Dolce & Gabbana, Oliver Rousteing, Tony Ward, Paul Vasileff, Giambattista Valli, Alexis Mabille, Ronald van der Kemp and Nuno Lopes, the first Macanese designer to be featured in British Vogue, Vogue Italia and Wonderland magazine. Touching on these designers’ creative souls, each has created collections from personal and historical visions. Here are some of their beautiful collections, inspiring us with artistry. I hope it gives you all the confidence to trust your own creativity in wearing what you love.
Dolce & Gabbana
Men’s Spring/Summer 2021 – Ready to Wear collection
Combining art, design and fashion, Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2021 Men’s Collection is a tribute to the Italian genius manifested at the Parco dei Principi Hotel in Sorrento, designed by Gio Ponti in 1960, where the colours of the sea mix with the lightness of white.
The merge between modernity and neoclassicism becomes the common thread, where geometric and linear designs, referring to the ceramics of the 1960s, are combined with prints of neoclassical statues and busts, in a game of contrasts harmonised by the delicacy of the shades of the sky. Oversized volumes, a combination of different materials, overlaps and juxtapositions are the main features of the garments. dolcegabbana.com
Dolce & Gabbana
Women’s Spring/Summer 2021 Patchwork di Sicilia collection
The Dolce & Gabbana Spring/Summer 2021 women’s collection, Patchwork di Sicilia, is a tribute to Sicily, a regular source of inspiration for the designers. Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana have visually woven together a tapestry that recounts the fabrics and patterns you might find in Palermo, Catania, Siracusa and Agrigento – creating pieces of patchwork and mixing fabrics, atmospheres, colours, 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. Every garment is crafted and interpreted by a skilled hand, so that every piece has its own personality. All artisans and tailors have sewn together fabrics in a distinctive way according to shapes and colours, enabling each piece of fabric to create its own story. dolcegabbana.com
Men’s and Women’s Fall/Winter collection 2021/2022
After the triumph of his house’s first couture presentation 75 years ago, what did Pierre Balmain do? He packed his bags and started travelling, jetting off to America not to talk collections, but follow the directive of his friend Gertrude Stein to act as a roving ambassador, criss-crossing the US to deliver lectures on French culture and savoir faire. Six years after the war had abruptly put an end to all imports of Parisian fashion, he also sailed across the Channel, transporting his fresh new take on couture to London. And, after an eight-day, multistep series of flights across half the globe, he touched down in Australia, bringing news of his “New French Style” to Down Under (and, of course, making sure to include a visit to the Sydney suburb of Balmain).
Post-2020, it’s a lot easier for us to appreciate just how exciting those trips must have been for Pierre Balmain. After the anxious years of war and occupation, he was suddenly offered the long-denied possibility of escaping to destinations that he had been dreaming about.
Today’s men’s and women’s collections aim to channel that amazing sensation of freedom. We remember the impressive power of travel to open minds, uplift spirits and reunite those who have been kept apart, as we all look forward to better days. Many of the designs riff on the distinctive beauty found in the uniforms of early pilots and astronauts, with takes on parachute dresses, lace-up flight boots, bomber jackets and shimmering anti-gravity jumpsuits. One particularly striking design by Oliver Rousteing relies on more than 68,000 upcycled Swarovski crystals, making very clear the atelier’s success in mixing luxury embellishments with aviator inspirations.balmain.com
Fall/Winter 2021-2022 collection
After moments of stillness and introspection, the will of movement and a new dynamism served as the starting point for the Fall/Winter 2021-2022 collection for Giambattista Valli, who takes his Parisienne silhouette on a journey to his hometown, Rome. While walking through the city, this silhouette turns into a new imaginary friend, Paolina Borghese Bonaparte, a woman ahead of her times, a perfect incarnation of Italian and French cultures whose spirit applies to the Valli woman, a progressive and eclectic creature with an independent sense of style.
Parisian blacks and whites trimmed and embroidered boucles and neat silk crepes soften while the promenade goes on; the flowers of the Villa Borghese appear on the garments and its delicate flowers bloom in the form of brocades, embroideries and porcelain prints alongside lavish sequins and velvet jacquards. Pearl-adorned tiaras, spots of leopard, crystal-embroidered necklines reminiscent of livery collars and slightly risen waistlines are further nods to the Empire. The resolution of the collection is to convey a feel of vigour and to inspire the new beginning of enthusiastic femininity. giambattistavalli.com
Evening Ready to Wear Fall/Winter Collection 2021-2022
“My collection is an invitation to party, which we all dream of now,” says designer Alexis Mabille, whose eclectic universe celebrates a soon-to-be-found freedom. In this timeless decor created to enjoy festivities, he presents a wardrobe that plays with volumes and light. With a mélange of textures creating an illusion of matte and shiny reflections, Mabille utilises a palette of golden yellow and beige tones and black & blue hues punctuated with white. A perfect silhouette for movement, it draws you into a liberating and exhilarating dance. alexismabille.com
Spring/Summer 2021 Collection, “Persephone”
Designer Paul Vasileff’s 2021 Spring/Summer Couture collection, “Persephone”, draws inspiration from the duality of seasons, the complexities of love and the beauty of Greek mythology. Inspired by the classic tale, the collection follows Persephone’s journey to becoming the Goddess of Spring and Queen of the Underworld.
“The collection follows a narrative, which starts out as pure and light in the beginning, becomes darker and returns back to the light again with flowers blossoming. However, Persephone is stronger and less naïve and vulnerable at the end of the story,” explains creative director and designer Paul Vasileff. “Reminiscent of the changing season, the soft colour palette transcends into earthy tones and features accents of platinum, ruby and shimmering metallics. Paying homage to classicism, romantic Grecian silhouettes in dégradé silk tulle, lustrous crepe and Italian silk lurex and are adorned with intricate beadwork, delicate draping and elegant braided rope details,” says Vasileff.
The 14-piece collection premiered as part of the Melbourne Fashion Festival’s (MFF) Digital Runway Three. “We were excited to partner with MFF on this Australian first. With couture shows in Paris pivoting and paving the way with a new digital presence, we were able to follow suit and showcase to a global audience,” says Vasileff. Symbolising the unison between classical storytelling and couture technique, Persephone is a testament to the brand’s artisanal abilities. paolosebastian.com
Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter 2021-22 collection, “Interlude”
What’s more interesting than the film itself? Perhaps going behind the scenes, the adrenaline rush of film-making, or seeing the re-runs? The world of cinematography & film has always been an inspiration to Tony Ward. The designer’s Ready-to-Wear Fall/Winter 2021-2022 collection, Interlude, sees vintage strobe lights showcasing the pieces, adding a dramatic punch to dark scenes. Ward utilises a punchy palette of hot fuchsia, deep purple, emerald green, midnight blue and black. The collection incorporates theatrical suits & capes, sculptural pieces, slits & feathers and voluminous skirts and embrace Hollywood glam and French classics, where the raw shots on the filmstrips are more interesting than the movie itself. tonyward.net
Ronald van der Kemp
Spring/Summer 2021 collection, “Wardrobe #13”
Dutch couturier Ronald van der Kemp launched his demi-couture label in 2014, RVDK Ronald van der Kemp, and presented his first ‘wardrobe’ during the Paris haute couture calendar in 2015. His wardrobes consist of limited-edition statement pieces that he says are seasonless, timeless clothes intended to express a woman’s personality and underline her strength and character.
An eco-friendly approach is prevalent throughout this collection. “We used felted textile trash made from discarded uniforms, moulding a corset in one seamless piece and trimming it with a border of handwoven leftover metal chains. We brought back the ‘Boucherouite’ weaving technique that we introduced a year ago, working again with Carpet of Life to create intricate 3D textiles with leftover fabric scraps to replace fur and fake fur. We gave new meaning to vintage wall coverings, leftover couture fabrics, antique kimonos, surplus feathers, fringes and beads and turned them into dresses, pillows, art and accessories,” he says.
Van der Kemp elaborates that it created pieces of textile art from scraps by collaging, hand painting, dyeing, quilting, appliqueing, embellishing, hand weaving and embroidering. “We also reimagined discarded hotel ‘paintings’– printed reproductions of Dutch masters – into new works of art,” he says. ronaldvanderkemp.com
Fall/Winter 2021-2022 collection, “Chandelier Dream”
Nuno Lopes de Oliveira showcased his latest collection at this year’s Shenzhen Fashion Week. At the event, we finally got a glimpse of normality, with a live audience of more than 700 guests attending the show. Lopes brought back his signature aesthetic to the runway, this latest collection debuting almost two years since the designer recovered from a life-threatening aneurysm. He founded his eponymous fashion brand, Nuno Lopes, in London in June 2015, after the success of his graduate fashion show, which made him the first Macanese designer to be featured in British Vogue, Vogue Italia and Wonderland magazine.
Inspirations behind this collection came from his hometown of Macau. With time spent not being able to travel abroad due to the pandemic and travel restrictions, Lopes rediscovered the beauty of his small city with a big personality. The collection is called “Chandelier Dream”. Once a magnificent Catholic church, the ruins of St Paul’s cathedral in Macau are one of the Seven Wonders of Portuguese Origin in the World. Lopes was always fascinated by what happened on that fateful night when a fire destroyed the cathedral. There were no paintings to document the grandeur of the building, so Lopes used his imagination to represent it with heavy crystal beading, baroque patterns, and a colour scheme inspired by the mural paintings at the chapel Capela de Nossa Senhora da Guia on Guia Hill. nuno-lopes.com