Not every collection is about sex, even if, as the cliché goes, sex sells. But when a designer chooses to largely avoid the subject, they put a certain onus on themselves to provide a compelling alternative. It’s not always easy.
In her first ready-to-wear collection for Tod’s, for example, and the house’s first runway show ever, creative director Alessandra Facchinetti offered a conservative, sartorial equivalent of the leather brand’s famous pebble-soled driving shoes and bags. Using the circular nubs on the accessories as a starting point, Ms Facchinetti created tissue-thin perforated leather, and shaped it into in knee-length skirts (full and straight) and tunic tops; larger circles, inspired in part by the art of Lucio Fontana, appeared on leather car coats and skirts. There were classic trouser suits with pussy bow blouses, cotton shirtwaists with sides that could be zipped or unzipped at will, and one-shouldered leather dresses belted at the waist, all fresh and accomplished and wholly lacking in urgency.
If the goal is for a Tod’s customer to come in, buy a shoe, and then maybe buy a dress to go-with, these clothes will serve their purpose, but if the goal is for the clothes to drive people into the stores, they need some more oomph.
Similarly, the hot young designer of the week, Italian-Haitian Stella Jean, whose show was “sponsored” by Giorgio Armani and took place in his headquarters, described her goal as addressing the lack of multicultural understanding in Italy via extremely clever “trompe l’oeil” versions of Savile Row stripes – made in Burkina Faso – and African batiks (made in Holland), all mixed-but-not-matched in various elemental separates: full skirts, skinny trousers, button-down shirts, suit jackets. It’s a provocative idea, but at the moment it’s stuck on the surface; to take the next step, she needs to draw it deeper through the silhouette.
As for Moschino, they were simply interested in celebrating. In a show honouring the house’s 30th anniversary and the founder that first raised a mocking eyebrow at fashion, designer Rosella Jardini took a trip down memory lane, literally, via looks from the archives (a red ball skirt printed with giant cows, the Italian flag shirt, the garbage bag dress) as well as remastered oldies-but-goodies in every memorable (and not so memorable) clothing genre Moschino-the-brand ever addressed, from nurses to nuns, cowgirls to disco babes.
If it felt a bit like a costume party, it was also done with such wholehearted enthusiasm, it was impossible not to smile. That might not have been the only reaction founder Franco Moschino was hoping for when he put the words “Holy chic” on a kaftan/cassock, but three decades later, it may be enough.