Movements that focus on the empowerment of women, or the salvation of the planet are vital to the preservation and continuation of (and are rightly adopted by) the fashion industry, but are frequently promoted to the hindrance of some really great clothes and shows.
This fall (through the first half of the four fashion weeks) there has been a return to something like a focus on form. No Extinction Rebellion hate-ins, no Vivienne Westwood sit outs, no (as yet) shows stealing the glory, and almost – thanks to COVID 19 – no shows at all.
Regardless of the valid polemics, designers and brands would actually prefer shows that put clothes before issues. Victoria Beckham and Burberry delivered fine and affairs in an otherwise troublingly conservative London; Beckham has become the kind of Brit standard-bearer that Burberry used to be, while Burberry produced a sensuous collection that hints at less British directions it could take under Ricardo Tisci.
Never straying too far away from those tans trenches were patterns and layers that dared diffuse the ubiquitous check with nods to pumped athleisure. It was a show which acknowleded that – at the cutting edge – brands are willing to (have to) toy with their own legacy. This matters as much as diversity and sustainability in their received sense. Brands must diversify across the racial and retail spectrum whilst at the same time crystalizing brand identity, and must become sustainable for their own dogged survival.
Gucci, the standout at Milan this week, has whittled its aesthetic down to bare minimums in motif forms – Italian, catholic, perverse. Ultimately illustrating how to use simple, imperfectly matched, uncomplimentary colours to master a particular world.
You wouldn’t be too stunned to see the same jacket or dress filtering through various seasons’ collections like some catwalk anomaly with the Italian brand. It’s the kind of spookiness Gucci vaunt; the idea that when the world is wrong you should turn a sweater on its head. Ironically, this is the kind of sustainability that brands cannot actually tolerate.