Top story this week (not only for the art world), spring has finally come! No matter if the weather delights us or not — the calendar doesn’t lie, besides, the sky is so high and blue and there is a special feeling in the air… Since we have skipped our regular column last week, we are catching up with the events we just can’t leave uncovered. Yes, I’m talking about Milan and London Fashion Weeks, which successfully ran in the latter half of February. Let’s move to Europe this time taking our eyes from the spectacular New York event (more of our impressions of the latest NYFW here). Welcome to the Art Digest of the week!
M I L A N F A S H I O N W E E K
Jimi Hendrix and Rudolf Nureyev: the rebellious creatives inspire Etro FW 2021 collection
The latest collection by Maison Etro demonstrated at Milan Fashion Week Fall 2021 is, no doubt, a hymn to freedom… and love.
However general that might sound, it really is. British-German singer Arlissa Ruppert opens the show presentation with a wonderful song about the amorous affairs or rather the rules de l’amour, which one can sing karaoke to. Although including live sound in the fashion show is no longer novelty (Yuna singing ‘Dance like nobody’s watching’ for ADEAM immediately springs to mind), it still looks like a winning strategy. Each performer passes on their mood, energy, and vibes to the show. In the case with Etro FW 2021 collection it’s (let me quote the lyrics here) ‘Keep changing, keep swaying <the rules of, rules of love>’.
Swaying here means wearing something loose, even slouchy, like high-waisted, long-tailored pants, bombers, and knitted jumpers carelessly tucked in. Yet Etro is not a regular sport casual brand to make do with that. It’s essential to add a drop of the label’s signature move (of course, I mean Etro’s generic love for using pattern) and a leitmotif of the season, so here it gets interesting. The original founder of the brand, Gimmo Etro bought a large selection of Rudolf Nureyev’s personal wardrobe at auction in 1994. Today Gimmo’s daughter and Etro’s women’s wear director Veronica relates to Nureyev as the protagonist for the Fall Winter 2021 collection, also alluding to singer and guitarist Jimi Hendrix. Ballet inspired patchworks, pirouettes, and riffs are combined in the show with some noble intersias, fancy paisley, and predator prints. Etro’s sophisticated color palette, which stands out through its density and depth, is also there. Elegant, laid back, appealing, and ready-to-wear, we just can’t ask for more. One question left, still, why do male characters inspire Etro women’s fashion? Banal but true, free spirits and artistic minds have no gender (al least, for the heritage). ‘The rules of, rules of love. Sometimes people break ‘em’.
Pierpaolo Piccioli on behalf of Valentino goes radical but stays romantic this season
I don’t know about you, but on hearing the name of Valentino, I think of two things: color red and romance. The former definitely does not apply to the latest collection by the brand: for Fall 2021 RTW Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino creative director opted for black and white color palette (which, by the way, looked anything but obvious) interspersing it with a couple of golden bursts. As for the latter of the associations, it’s still like that: the brand stays romantic in heart and in deed, while Valentino CD passionately clarifies the meaning of the term: ‘It’s the radical act of having the strength to be who you are; that’s what I mean by romanticism today. It’s a subjective, almost anarchic gesture, assertive of one’s own identity — exactly like punk.’
Right, punk! And a hint of the bespoke sensuality that is manifested in swingy cape coats, elegant stilettos, touching turtlenecks, and lace jabots. A-line skirts from the 60s, massive studs from the punk rock 70s — Valentino gladly recalls the history of fashion as well as its own origins. By the way, it’s the location of the fashion show that deserves no less attention. The presentation was staged in the historic Piccolo Teatro di Milano, which, you guessed it, is still closed for the public because of the pandemic. Yet the authorities considered the shooting of the Valentino Fall 2021 RTW show a sufficient reason to open up the doors of the theatre for a little while. Pierpaolo Piccioli calls it a sort of a punk act. Regarding the soundtrack (well, live songs seem to be gaining popularity among the couturiers), it’s ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ originally performed by Sinead O’Connor that accompanied Valentino’s show this time. After all, what can compare to a true romantic, an idealistic and a brash one, who isn’t afraid of pursuing his/her craziest dreams?
L O N D O N F A S H I O N W E E K
Stunning Harris Reed’s debut at de-gendered LFW
To begin with, London Fashion Week Fall 2021 goes gender-neutral. That means London Fashion Week Men’s has been incorporated into the event, thus, the couturiers get a free hand to experiment with unisex looks in their collections. Hm, the term ‘unisex’ might sound a bit obsolete here. On looking at Harris Reed’s debut collection, one makes absolutely sure how powerful and morphing genderless outfits can be. The 24-year-old Central Saint Martins graduate and the Harry Styles’ beloved designer, Reed breaks into the Fashion Week with six demi-couture looks featured on the same person. Harris Reed’s collection is all about the striking gowns handmade of the upcycle textiles by the designer himself.
What the up-and-coming couturier has presented at the latest LFW is not only spectacular but also brilliant: the ironical and contemplative approach of Harris Reed leads him to discover new facets of gender-fluid clothing. First, Harris Reed Fall/Winter 2021 is more about quasi-couture: imbued with artistry and gentility, his looks feature an unusual blend of impeccable elegance and parody. It’s just like the works of contemporary art: performing a caricature of oneself and of the absurd world around, the only difference is that Reed’s garments are also (and necessarily) beautiful. Tuxedo jackets, satin skirts, mermaid hems, pleated tulle — why not bring that all together in one outfit dressing a wonderful person with a passion for expressing themselves/introducing themselves to the world? Add to this a mind-blowing ‘dark romance’ color palette… Let’s just hope binary prejudice is something Harris Reed has never been confronted with and won’t ever be.
P H O T O G R A P H Y
Wild life as fine art: mesmerizing shots by the South African photographer
Saturated with European fashion, let’s shift our focus to the region of South Africa, the homeland of wildlife photographer Chris Fallows. Introducing him this way, I’m just as serious. Fallows enjoyed his first safari at the age of two with his father, an amateur wildlife photographer, helping him to turn the son’s fledgling interest into a passion. Chris Fallows started off photographing great whites [sharks], having later switched ‘to other forms of wildlife, particularly predators and iconic species’. Each year the photographer together with his wife spend about 3 months in the wilds of Africa seizing the opportunity to be closer to nature, in the truest sense of the word.
Since 2015 Chris Fallows has been focusing on elephants, openly expressing his devotion to them. ‘Over the years, I have come to truly love and appreciate them and have got to know an animal that is intelligent, caring, and obviously under huge pressure from humanity,’ the photographer shares. And it shows in his art: elephants in the images look powerful and touching at once, kind and infinitely beautiful. A sense of wisdom and peace comes to one contemplating the shots of large matriarchal herds or solo pachyderms. Among other things, Fallows is interested in spotting the iconic big male tuskers, the last few species left on the African continent, which he frequently devotes his safari trips to.
On the cover: Harris Reed Fall/Winter 2021 collection. Courtesy of Harris Reed