Courtesy of brands; Coach / Juergen Teller, Kwaidan Editions / Léa Dickely
Style Points is a weekly column on how fashion intersects with the world at large.
This summer, I spent a lot of time on the phone chatting with designers and other fashionistas about what they thought the future of fashion might hold in store for us. One of the most common refrains, which won’t surprise anyone following the recent industry talk, is that the seasons don’t matter anymore. Many of those I spoke to said that traditional fashion weeks were no longer working for them and that they wanted to release collections more in line with their own whims.
And now that time is a flat circle, those of us on the other end of the exchange – the customers – are feeling that too. This isn’t a brand new phenomenon, of course – it’s reflected in the buy-now craze that hit a few years ago and the popularity of branded reissues from Prada to Marc Jacobs. As Sloane Crosley observed in the pages of ELLE earlier this year, the window of nostalgia gets smaller and smaller as celebrities wear a recent vintage again and we all browse The Real Real and Depop at looking for fresh grails. Amid the urgency of the sustainability movement and the rise of upcycled brands that have helped us to look at old clothes in a new light, the old fashion victim ban on clothes that were “so laby” last season “was already, fortunately, tired.
But COVID and the time spent at home definitely sped up the process. I’m sure I’m not the only one digging through the recesses of my closet and finding things that, once again, seem to make sense in my 2020 wardrobe. From the costume designs that I have. made for a production of Broken house in college – hybrids of choppy wedding dresses and military gear from an emporium called Dollar a Pound – to my uncle’s FDNY sweatshirt with his barracks number on it, everything (a little) old is new. To use the used language of the 2008 recession, we are all buying our closets once again.
And judging from the spring of 2021 so far, the designers seem to be in sync with the rest of us. At Versace, the Trésor de la Mer prints from spring 1992 found new life, while the tie Miuccia Prada talked about a lot with Raf Simons featured a few looks with signature prints from her 1996 collection. For her Spring 2021 Coach collection Forever, Stuart Vevers reissued one of my personal favorites, the Fall 2014 Apollo sweater inspired by Danny’s sweater in The brilliant. (I remember feeling like it when I first saw Tavi Gevinson wearing it six years ago.) A t-shirt from her Spring 2018 collaboration with Keith Haring and a Coach x Jean-Michel trench coat Basquiat reinvented from last season have also made their entry into this season. collection.
This archive dive wasn’t limited to big brands with decades of history and temperature-controlled archives. Heron Preston has refined some of his biggest hits, like the Toolbox bag. “I looked at our top performing pieces and pieces that had become iconic of what we do,” the designer said in his show notes. “Even before COVID-19 hit, I felt like I was doing too much, too much, too much. This collection is smaller and puts more emphasis on our strengths. “
At Kwaidan editions, founded in 2016, creators Léa Dickely and Hung La turned to their previous work with pieces that riffed on the signatures of their label. During a Zoom presentation of the collection from their London headquarters, the designers showed me a mood board they assembled with key elements from the past, including their viral tie-dye swirl tee for spring. 2018. Fortunately for them, their archives are conveniently located. in their London home. “While everyone was cleaning out their attics, we were digging through our records,” La says. “For us it was a time when everything slowed down. There weren’t a lot of emails and the factories slowed down. We created a space where we kind of revisited everything we [had done], because we didn’t know what to do next.
“There’s always that fear of being called out for something you’ve done before,” La says. But, “because of COVID, the rules were different this season.” The pressure on designers to reinvent the wheel each season seems to have eased. But there was still room for a new kind of reinvention. “Even though we play around with the signatures we’ve used before,” like a rubber coat and a plaid suit, says La, “they don’t feel the same.”
And “without all the fuss,” says Dickely, she was able to take the time to focus on her signature hand-drawn prints, many of which are inspired by the decor of her grandmother’s home in Alsace (“I think that Lea creativity was born in this house, ”La adds.) As Dickely says, speaking on behalf of so many people in the fashion world this season,“ we’re not in this race anymore where we just have to move forward and erase, advance, erase. ”
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