A joyful reassurance machine. The New York fashion shows for spring summer 2022 seem concerted by designers, journalists and professionals not so much or not only as those who return from the URL of digital videos with showy and stubborn optimism to theIRL of the “In Real Life” shows, that is, live. They are conceived as events intended to encourage, hearten us, facilitate our adaptation to mutations and / or make us feel happy again “as before”, indeed “as before before”: the time before the pandemic plus the time before Trump and the attack of 11 September, whose twentieth anniversary was crossed by the calendar of the shows.
The American ransom
Clouded by terrible and distressing themes – the Afghan situation, the still open wound of racial controversy, the widespread but not expressed concern that the virus is not eradicated but we will have to learn to live with it – the country, perhaps for the first time (the fashion shows, regularly snubbed by politicians and almost always also by the First Lady have seen in the front row Kathy Hochul, the new governor of the city), saw in the fashion a reason for redemption and brotherhood in the eyes of the world, which will reach its definitive consecration in the two-act exhibition of the Costume Institute, which is usually inaugurated on the occasion of the Met Gala. The first part is entitled In America: A Lexicon of Fashion and opens on September 18th – led by the crème of beautiful, talented and studious young Americans of which every boomer would like to be a parent: Timothée Chalamet, Billie Eilish, Naomi Osaka and the highly photogenic poet Amanda Gorman. The second part will be called In America: An Anthology of Fashion and will open to the public on May 5th. The double project intends to celebrate American designers taking into account last year’s political, cultural and social events. “I think the emphasis on mindful creativity really took hold during the pandemic and social justice movements,” Andrew Bolton, curator of the Met Costume Institute (and partner of Thom Browne), told Vogue.
The first fashion shows of the Biden era
And therefore: fantastic locations! Famous models! Flashy colors! Non stop sequins! Legs in sight! Generous cleavage! Jewels in rain! Embroideries galore! Heels of any height! Sinuous draperies! Expansive ruffles! Second skin suits! Designers like Savonarola on the contrary: all invite to a (symbolic) burning of suits, sweatshirts, sneakers. A wardrobe connected to an experience that is still too fresh not to feel a wave of anguish just thinking about it: domestic confinement (even if some have escaped writing about how comfortable it was to lie on the sofa, munching chocolates, watching fashion shows on the tablet).
Faced with prestigious absences (Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Pyer Moss, Zimmermann and Tommy Hilfiger) there were returns of sons prodigal of honor but not so much of ideas (Michael Kors, Tom Ford, Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Thom Browne, Altuzarra and Peter Dundas) but the message – in an American, very direct way – arrived loud and clear: women want comfort, ease and timelessness from post-pandemic fashion. If not a return to the “classic”, certainly a rethinking of the most rocky cornerstones oflady aesthetics (maybe a little sexy), in which a very interesting political aspect can be glimpsed: these are the first fashion shows of the Biden era, Sergio Hudson (the designer who signed Michelle Obama’s one-color outfit, between purple and plum, on the day of the inauguration of the President) and Markarian – aka Alexandra O’Neill – who instead made the ensemble coat plus powder blue Jill Biden dress for the same fateful day.
Spring summer 2022 fashion
From the proposals as a shepherdess under the influence of psychoactive substances by Collina Strada, a brand of Hillary Taymour and Charlie Engman who made irreverent environmentalism her trademark (and in fact they chose the terrace in Brooklyn of the Brooklyn Grange farm) up to the tangential elegance of vintage Hollywood (Michael Kors) or large red carpet dresses (Jason Wu), from the declared sensuality of LaQuan Smith (location: the Empire State Building) to the monumental sartorial performance of Thom Browne, perhaps the ‘most evocative and experimental event of all, with clothes that recreated the Greek and Roman statuary of the works present at the Met complete with muscles and breasts and draperies obtained thanks to artisanal layers of tulle, there was the rediscovery of the dress as enjoyment , with many greetings to sportswear. Even the dress that we boomers once defined as “bourgeois” with a raised bored eyebrow, takes on the usual silhouettes (the Jeremy Scott suits for Moschino for an insane asylum, the pretty evening dresses by Prabal Gurung) to give them a “different intended use”, as Enzo Miccio would have said in What the hell are you wearing? Petticoats are worn by men, under the jacket of the suit there is almost always a bra or a swimwear top, the ski jacket is worn by Aaron Philips, black and disabled transgender model. In a sense, the conservative composure serves as a pick for introducing new themes: linclusion, diversity, gender equity.
The comparison with Italians, French and Belgians
It is not a nostalgic fashion in the true sense of the term, but touched by a past in which dressing was a sign of distinction, self-care, the pleasure of self-representation. And everyone has a right to this. But it is a type of DNA that, Anna forgive us, does not by default belong to American Fashion, but to the fashion of this part of the world where we live. It is no coincidence that Peter Do, the designer-prodigy hailed as the best of young people, in his (elegant) collections, despite being American by adoption but Vietnamese by birth, grafted European influences: there is the practical-chic spirit of Giorgio Armani, the slippery shapes like those of Phoebe Philo from the time of Céline when she still had the accent, the attention to small romantic details like Dries Van Noten, such as the giant embroideries, even the choice not to ever be seen in the face , just like Martin Margiela when he drew Martin Margiela. The comparison with the Italians, the French and the Belgians continues to be a crucial point in the consideration of American fashion in the world.
Past and future of American Style
What then, tighten tightly, this is precisely the crux of the question: the relationship with luxury of a European matrix. If the United States, over the decades, has progressively colonized cinema, music, TV, even the kitchen (even if fast food, at least in big cities, no longer has the appeal of 20 or 30 years ago) that is, all popular culture, it is precisely in clothing that the last piece still to be conquered is hidden. Partly because we take it for granted that jeans are world heritage like t-shirts, partly because – thanks to some items, like Michael Kors bags or Calvin Klein underwear – we don’t associate American Style to extremely creative products, or of great luxury, or of particular prestige. Praise be given to Tori Burch for reviving Claire McCardell, the forgotten inventor of that now lost US spirit, in which glamor was an integral part of comfort. Those in New York are parades of a country that is questioning itself and its representation in the collective imagination. What is American fashion? The guidelines of its aesthetics are clear, but the results are confusing. They certainly have to do with the country’s founding mythologies: principles of democracy, free expression, rebellion and self-inventionrather than with any specific silhouette, style or geography.
But: is the cowboy western movie all in denim more American or the glamor of the divas dressed by costume designer Adrian? They will be more symbolic than the United States there Halston’s sophisticated fluidity (now better known thanks to a TV series) or the Hillary Clinton’s power suit? The regenerative destructiveness of Telfar Clemens or the erotic and precious smoothness of Tom Ford? Dolly Parton’s folklore or Patti Smith’s minimalism? The sparkle of Diana Ross in the crazy night at the disco or the absolute severity of Joan Baez? Katy Perry or Lorde? Eric Darnell Pritchard, a professor of English at the University of Arkansas and author of an upcoming book about AIDS designer Patrick Kelly, one of the first black designers to become famous in Europe in the 1980s, told the New York Times: like the nation, a project that is still in the making. The more America, and for this reason American fashion, truly reflects and embraces the difference that is and has always been the strength of who we are, the more those terms acquire historical, cultural, political and economic legibility and, in essence, meaning ” . But there is also the fascination, for once, of being colonized, ending up looking like those conformists that, underneath, we all continue to want to be.
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