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Milan Fashion Week: Social commentary in fabric

FASHION’S power as social commentary has never been more evident than in this year’s first fashion show series, Milan Men’s Fashion Week Fall-Winter 2021. It’s ongoing until Jan. 19, all democratically shown through, the website of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion. Every seat in the world thus becomes a front-row seat.

Pandemic restrictions on mass gatherings in hard-hit Italy have also forced designers to become more creative. Showing collections outdoors, once a novelty, have become a necessity.

Ermenegildo Zegna’s Fall Winter 2021 is an imaginative 15-minute fashion film showing the quiet that now marks most of Milan’s urban landscapes. The buildings they chose as backdrops to the fashion, such as the Piazza Olivetti, show stark modernity, itself contrasting with the softness of their offerings.

This new line, made with soft fabrics in soft lines, in neutrals, removes any notion of “looking sharp.” We suppose it’s a commentary for work-from-home individuals and executives. In fact, most of the offerings from this house, known for its suits, suspiciously look like loungewear. The collection, however, is taken from the decidedly youthful Ermenegildo Zegna XXX segment. Several coats look like they can double as dressing robes, passed off as their chic older brother, the smoking jacket.

The show itself shows the lives we lead now, locked in cubes, while we, and the fashion show, both ache for a narrative. It’s not often that we get to see runway clothes actually in action, especially in such stunning settings as a reimagining of the ghost world that replaced the spaces we once occupied.

Watch the show here:

We don’t usually associate Nigeria with luxury fashion, the avant-garde, or even progressive discussions on gender. But a maison founded there, Lagos Space Programme, tries to change all those notions.

A press release by the company, founded by English-educated Nigeria-based designer Adeju Thompson, says, “Lagos Space Programme is a conceptual, avant-garde, luxury Nigerian fashion brand. We offer intellectual, ready-to-wear high-end crafted collections while exploring parallel concepts through multidisciplinary collaboration projects.”

The collection is called Aso Lànkí, Kí Ató Ki Ènìyàn (translated as “We greet the dress before we greet its wearer”). It takes inspiration from the the Yoruba people, and according to the release,  “highlights an early example of gender-bending within Yoruba society” — a difficult conversation in a country where same-sex activity is illegal.

Shot in the Osun Sacred Grove (a forest dedicated to the Yoruba Goddess of Fertility), the collection contains a palate of rich blues, thanks to local and natural indigo dyes. The collection itself shows crispness in texture but softness in tailoring; with outfits worn by indigenous people in Nigeria combined with a bit of the West, perhaps showing a dialogue.

Watch the show here:

Luxury house Fendi, known for its cheeky sense of humor (they did make the impossibly small Baguette bag), opens its show with a very familiar event these days: a phone call. A woman named Silvia places a call (presumably Silvia Fendi, the house’s Creative Director) and says, “I just want to tell you about humanity, color, what is normal today; about light, and darkness.” The call is mixed and remixed to become the show’s background music.

The collection plays to this season’s theme of comfort, with loose cuts. Furthermore, the tailoring is also decidedly soft, ending in cuffs that appear convex; almost as if the clothes themselves had an introversion. The house also highlights the softness with tactility and texture: think suede, quilting fur, and silks; making the feeling of softness an overall sensorial experience.

Of course, Fendi is still Fendi, so any outfits that might have resembled loungewear (such as a robe/smoking jacket: a new trend?) are still undeniably luxe: a shimmering silk, quilted and splashed with flowers and the house’s name in cursive.

Watch the show here: L. Garcia

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