Deeny’s Dozen: The 12 best collections in the world this season
The runway season just ended marking a restoration of reined in chic, with brands and designers keen to capture new followers after the dark grind of the pandemic. We select the 12 most memorable fashion statements.
It was also the busiest season since the pandemic faded, with over 300 shows in the four fashion capitals, lasting from Friday, February 10 until Tuesday, March 7. The 26-day marathon finally put an end to the notion that covid meant a paradigm shift to less shows and events. The month of action also marked the return in huge numbers to both Paris and Milan of Asian movie stars and K-Pop heroines, backed up by their caravanserai of handlers and hangers on.
Above all, it was a triumphant season with some brilliant performances by established stars, and a new cohort of talents. Here in alphabetical order are this critic’s favorites: Deeny’s Dozen.
Unquestionably, the best tailoring tutorial of the year; brilliant silhouettes; bravura anatomical printing; and bold staging in a giant cylinder behind Napoleon’s Tomb. Perhaps Sarah Burton didn’t break that much new ground, but she refined her fashion vision better than any of her colleagues.
A visual feast celebrating carnival culture; a clever meditation on power dressing; technically remarkable – from unfurling weaves to classical fabrics made of microscopically shaven leather. Climaxed by feather light dress shapes - halter necks, junipers, shirt dresses, poufs and ball gowns. Above all, a beautiful fashion statement, from Matthieu Blazy, the most important creative director to have emerged in the past half decade.
Nicolas di Felice keeps on getting better. After savvily reviving Courrèges, he took the brand somewhere new with a futurism that was fun, funky and full of finesse. Cocoon coats, hoodies and jackets in leather, latex, wool check and Courrèges’ signature patent plastic. No wardrobe should be without a Courrèges by di Felice look.
At most, 200 people showed up for Durazzi’s small show inside a striking Rationalist era apartment. Yet it felt like an A Star is Born moment for Ilenia Durazzi. A style that blends architecture with equestrian style, seen on just eight models, wearing horse prints, grommeted coats, experimental felt coats and Navajo pants. Beside them; a series of conceptual horse-blankets posed on iron racks; outside two wild white horses grazed in the garden. Elegant, elegiac and inspiring.
Few shows are more worth going to than Erdem. The reigning king of fashion Victoriana, especially this February with his delightfully embellished take on damsels in distress. The nearest thing to couture that exists in London, from the most important designer ever to have emerged from Canada.
Catherine Holstein of Khaite creates clothes that reek of cerebral creative success. She now has a debut Soho flagship, where her latest show was staged, with another stupendous collection: big statement coats in tough chic leather, cut wrap style, with displayed buttons, power shoulders and grandeur. She is the designer of the moment in the United States.
The most acclaimed show in Paris without a doubt. Conceptual, cool, clever and made in tough Spanish materials – most brilliantly raw suedes - completed with recycled print dresses and staged remarkably in a white box full of confetti sculptures by Lara Favaretto, built in the garden of the Chateau de Vincennes. A century ago, they executed the Mata Hari inside the Chateau; this season they consecrated Anderson there as most influential designer in fashion.
Inspired by intellectual Emilie de Châtelet, Voltaire’s companion, this blend of 18th century silhouettes, romantic attitude, exceptional fabrics and posh punk was Ian Griffiths greatest show so far for Max Mara. It was also, quite simply, the greatest expression of modern luxury in fashion this season.
Yet another great provocative collection from Miuccia Prada, in a show were half the cast wore exposed underwear, though wearing the most haute bourgeois of attire – from cashmere twin sets to voluminous blazers. Yet the sense of risqué empowerment and the bold cast – from Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana in The Crown, to Zaya, the 15-year-old trans daughter of Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle - made this the most telling feminist statement of the season.
The loudest applause in any four cities was for the brilliant return to form by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons at Prada. Based on uniforms, from martial to infirmary; completed with origami appliques and shoes; and boasting the most coveted jackets of the season – burnished suede blazers, this was the most now collection of all.
A hyper individualistic collection of 40 disparate looks – focused on repurposed chic. All the way to the drip dyed velour tops and gowns made from ice cubes of dye. Up-cycled silks from the duo’s own archives, seen in beautifully draped pleated dresses. From the amazing knits, knitted at a 60-degree angle to hang elegantly askew, to the sensational metallic thread car crash dresses made over crepe gauze, this collection had the most head turning clothes of all.
This was almost as much a commemoration of the great designer, who passed at Christmas, as a runway show. An emotional collection that riffed on so much of Vivienne’s DNA – punk, Anglomania, Restoration and the bucolic countryside of northern England. And, most tellingly a triumphant statement that her successor and widower Andreas Kronthaler has the talent and drive to keep the house of Vivienne Westwood relevant and influential in the future.
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