How fashion designers are weaving stories of hope and light

Luxury global fashion collections look forward to light at the end of the tunnel, and the little joys of life

Published: May 4, 2021 05:09:25 PM IST
Updated: May 5, 2021 01:08:43 PM IST


Amidst the gloom, global fashion designers are weaving in stories of hope and light at the end of the tunnel, celebrating the idea of travelling again, walking around in a museum or just making up for lost time, in their elaborate Autumn/Winter collections of 2021.

Fur jackets, dresses with psychedelic prints, heavily embroidered jackets and structured pants and shirts are what will trend the next season internationally.

We pick some of the extraordinary collections that reference the past to redesign and reinvent the present and the future.

Balmain Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Image: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images For Balmain

Balmain captures the yearning to travel with its latest collection. The collection was shot in a hangar at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, in and around an underused Air France 777 airplane.

It celebrates not the destination but the joy of travelling from one place to another. Quirky accessories like neck-pillow earrings and handbags, paper-plane suitcase charms, working compass pendants and flying-specific shearling aviator jackets, greatcoats, flight suits, and webbing-strap dresses in parachute silk make up the collection.

Christian Dior Fall 2021 collection
Courtesy Dior 

Dior showcased its Fall 2021 collection at the all-physical Shanghai Fashion Week in mid-April.

The outfits, in acid hues, play on transparency, and shiny and silvery reflections, inspired from the pop art aesthetic--from British painter Richard Hamilton’s art to the Neo Futurism artworks of Italian artist Marco Lodola.

Spotted effects radiate in a range of fluorescent hues, silver embroidery punctuates pink tulle, and the toile de Jouy (designs of landscape and figure) motif transforms into lace. In the collection, black is an absolute black, while checks come in navy, gray, raspberry and chartreuse, and a Dior Mille Fleurs motif (a flower motif that pays homage to the landscapes of Puglia, a region in Southern Italy) in black silk velvet are some of the standout pieces of the collection. The effects bring into the spotlight global arts and crafts.

The embroideries on the Bar jacket, the anorak, the blouse, little dresses, and coats are composed of giant sequins, like mirror discs or disco balls.

Fendi Fall/Winter 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Courtesy Fendi

At a time when the present is in limbo, Fendi’s designer Kim Jones’s collection offers a new chapter for the Italian fashion house, presented through an homage to its past, its key codes and the women who have been associated with the brand–especially the five Fendi sisters, Paola, Anna, Franca, Carla and Alda, who joined the enterprise in 1946 as second-generation owners of the family-owned business.

The wardrobes of the Fendi sisters are a foundational resource for the brand: From the bell sleeves of a washed mink and bonded suede coat, to the pinstripes of their office attire now rendered in silken shirting or proportioned wool tailoring. Creative director for menswear, kidswear and accessories Silvia Venturini Fendi’s signature attire (collared shirts she buys from Vatican nun-wear suppliers and cashmere Fendi sweaters) was the inspiration behind a shearling utilitarian jacket with a bonded mink interior. “The Fendi family are women of intellect who work hard–and that’s what I wanted to celebrate,” says Jones in a press note. “A powerful dynasty.”

Double cashmere and camel outerwear, which extends into mink tricot or wool-fringed scarves, are also part of the collection. Details of some outfits are drawn from Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy, once the creative director of Fendi–a monogram, or the FENDI First shoe whose architectural heel has evolved from an archival sketch–are reworked for a new era, while motifs from Jones’s Couture Collection are reprised through marbled silk dresses, rosette blooms or delicate organza embroideries on jacquard knits.

Gucci’s 100th anniversary collection
Image: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci

How do you celebrate an iconic brand’s hundredth anniversary? Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s creative director, looked at the Italian fashion house’s past collections and those of Balenciaga, another Kering (a French luxury house) brand that also owns Gucci, to draw inspiration from, for his collection Aria.

“In this sense, Gucci becomes for me a hacking lab, made of incursions and metamorphoses. An alchemical factory of contaminations where everything connects to anything. A place where thefts and explosive reactions happen: a permanent generator of sparkles and unpredictable desires…,” says Michele in a press note.

The collection was launched as a fashion film that has models dressed in Gucci suits, coats, dresses, skirts, gowns, and corsets that embody the Gucci Retro ’70s silhouettes.
Following the brand’s decision to go seasonless last year, this new collection can be worn any time the wearer feels like it.

Hermès Fall-Winter 2021 Collection
Courtesy Hermes

The reinvention theme runs strongly through Hermes’s collection. “It is urgent now to live again, to venture forth into the unknown, to gain a new lease of life. It is a time of rebuilding: So much remains to be explored, beginning with womanhood, a concept that has changed quite a lot these past few years. Time flies, which is surely a sign that we need to reinvent ourselves,” reads a note in Hermès’s press release.

This collection is an expression of the desire to explore the sensuality of new mythologies. The checkered pattern works like a painting that gets right to the point, with a gesture as simple as adorning the human form with rectangles.

Contradictions fly out the window and classifications disappear into the play of fabrics and pleats with clothes that are as suitable for nightlife as for everyday life. A clou Médor (a clutch made from very fine goatskin), a suit cut in parka style, a padded anorak, cycling pants, long jackets, coats and ponchos with integrated scarves are part of the new collection.

Stella McCartney Winter 2021 Ready-to-Wear Collection
Image: Stella McCartney

Stella McCartney’s new collection is a celebration of being alive, of having survived the pandemic and little joys like being able to see artworks at museums again. She even shot her collection film at the Tate Museum in London.

Made up of 77 percent sustainable material, the pink and shocking green dresses, blue and purple boots, bell-bottom like pants, and psychedelic prints celebrate McCartney’s young, edgy designs, which the brand is known for.

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