“I don’t believe the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.”
I think I have previously expressed the thought that certain books find you at the right time, when reading them takes on a particular significance. This definitely happened in the case of “The Lonely City”; I bought the book in March 2016, a few days after its release, and amidst the various events of the years to come, which were not easy for so many reasons (pandemic included), I forgot about it for a while, partly because I already had a long stack of previously purchased books to read. The book followed me through various house moves and it was only last month that I happened to see it on my shelf and decided to read it.
The Lonely City takes on a completely different meaning in the aftermath of the pandemic, where we have all experienced loneliness on different levels due to forced isolation. It is precisely after the pandemic that the need to escape from loneliness has increased; predominantly taking on a negative connotation, loneliness is fought against in various ways (also thanks to new technologies and social media, which, however, also have dark sides and often make one feel even more lonely), instead of being seen as a natural condition that can be inspiring and allow human beings to develop their talents and personalities. This is precisely what Olivia Laing’s book is about: the British writer recalls her time living in New York, alone in the city that never sleeps; since she was raised by a homosexual mother, Laing’s personal story influences the text, and the author recounts how the visual arts mitigated her loneliness. In her memoir, she analyzes the lives of a number of LGBT artists, especially the ones that were part of New York’s East Village artistic scene. The account of these artists’ lives intersects with the writer’s personal story, focusing on loneliness in the city.
Although Paris Fashion Week has always been primarily about sophistication, recent editions have also seen an innovative spirit that challenges classic rules and aims to experiment with new forms of fashion, playing with materials, shapes and style combinations. This PFW edition was marked by several events and anecdotes, such as Pierre Cardin’s return with a futurist collection, the black tie as a must-have element for pretty much every Valentino look presented by Pierpaolo Piccioli, Stella McCartney’s classic dresses with images of horses showcased at a prestigious riding school (the show was also attended by horses, together with their renowned instructor Jean François Pignon, who uses a completely cruelty-free method in training, without touching them). Lanvin and his 18th-century and Renaissance inspirations for his collection of tailored suits in black and burgundy, alternating with embroidered evening gowns with sequins. Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçons with her ample sculptural silhouettes. After last season’s famous “spray-on” dress, the designers at the helm of Coperni introduced a series of dog-robots on the runway that interacted with the models in what was an energy-filled fashion show. One of the most iconic moments occurred during Noir Kei Ninomiya’s “Noir in Bloom” fashion show, which explored new dimensions through a series of 3D creations, with clothes that looked like “molecular studies”(the outfit closing this fashion show really looked like a molecular explosion). I found many of the looks from Paris Fashion Week brilliant and innovative as well as elegant; below I have selected seven of my favorites:
1) BALMAIN: for the Fall/Winter 2023 collection, Olivier Rousteing was inspired by the Pierre Balmain archives. “By celebrating where we come from, we clearly see where we are headed”, said the designer. Who, for this show, abandoned street-style to return to his roots, with more structured fashion reminiscent of the shows of yesteryear. The designer had the opportunity to explore Balmain’s most significant collections, based on excellent craftsmanship, and actualize that savoir-faire in this new collection. A collection made of shoulder-less silhouettes, severe skirts and rhinestone dresses, with jackets reminiscent of the style of the ’80s. Not only black and white, but also polka dots. And red, a color that was seen several times at the Milan shows last week. The outfits were a tribute to the genius of Pierre Balmain, as Rousteing stated: “In this collection I go back to the roots, the new style of Monsieur Balmain, and that to me is passion turning into luxury and quality. We are surrounded by fireworks and all this craziness—social media—but at the end of the day we go back to quality… to understand the future you must understand the past, and this collection is clearly an homage to the House that I am working for.” I love this black and white short tailleur and cape dress with matching red bag, classically shaped and complete with long black gloves that added a touch of old-world elegance.
2) PACO RABANNE: the Paco Rabanne FW 2023 fashion show had something very unique about it, due to the founder’s recent passing at the age of 88. The clothes that Julien Dossena showcased on the runway were a final tribute to the Spanish designer, who modernized fashion in the 1960s with his futuristically designed clothes. Dossena also thought to pay tribute to him by celebrating the designer’s friendship with Salvador Dalí, as seen in some of the dresses on the runway. He used some of Dalí’s surrealist paintings as prints for some of the designs, especially for the long gowns. The precious mini dresses, on the other hand, were designed by Rabanne himself and were reminiscent of the first ones made of metal plates from the 1960s. The Spanish designer was one of the first to launch metallic dresses, inspiring creatives of later generations. A futurist aesthetic appreciated by many prominent figures of the time such as Françoise Hardy and Audrey Hepburn, who would often wear his revolutionary creations. The soundtrack during the finale of the show consisted of Paco Rabanne’s voiceover narrating his creative process in couture and it was very moving. I really love the short metal dresses and also the cashmere and wool designs but I am choosing this blue outfit with the rocky landscape as my favorite because the surrealist print gowns on the runway were incredibly creative.
This edition of Milan Fashion Week had luxury brands focus heavily on sensuality, which was highlighted in many of the looks presented in the various Fall/Winter 2023 collections. A series of looks that harked back to past decades, such as the 1970s and the 1990s, in what seemed to be a return to true elegance and timeless glamour. Much reference was made to the minimal chic look of the 1990s, with petticoat dresses (think of Dolce & Gabbana’s “Sensuale” collection, a tribute to the figure of the femme fatale with its many lingerie pieces). A fashion week that witnessed Gucci’s first collection without Alessandro Michele at the helm of the brand, and the outfits were inspired by the revolutionary work done by Tom Ford in the 2000s.
Other events took place during MFW; a series of projects were presented at the Fashion Hub, such as Designers for the Planet, which hosted a number of emerging brands made in Italy that focus on sustainability in their creations. The documentary film “Milano: The Inside Story of Italian Fashion” directed by John Maggio was also screened. Dolce & Gabbana organized a vernissage in the Sala delle Cariatidi of Palazzo Reale called “Ciao, Kim!” and dedicated to American entrepreneur Kim Kardashian.
Giorgio Armani inaugurated at the Armani Silos “Guy Bourdin: Storyteller”, an exhibition dedicated to the French fashion photographer, which will be open to the public until the end of August.
Due to my many commitments related to the sales campaign I was unable to attend this fashion week in person so I didn’t get to see many industry friends but from what I have heard they were very pleased with the fashion events they attended. However, during my only afternoon off work I had the opportunity to visit a retrospective at Palazzo Reale dedicated to photographer Vincent Peters, which closed a couple of days ago. This was a wonderful visual experience and I will talk about it soon on the website. In the meantime, here are my seven favorite looks from this MFW edition:
1) ERMANNO SCERVINO: Ermanno Scervino’s collection presented a harmonious palette, with colors that ranged from white, dark gray, light blue (in this case a shade of washed-out denim), lime and ruby red to close the show with a series of garments in black. The collection was inspired by the designer’s love of cinema, particularly the sensuality of Ava Gardner. Solid-color dresses designed for an hourglass figure, with masculine oversize shapes in jackets and coats. Coats that are big and soft, to be worn over miniskirts or leggings. The Tuscan brand’s press kit explained, “Fall 2023 is a linear collection, with impeccable shapes, as rigorous as a painter’s canvas where Ermanno Scervino designs precious workmanship, manipulates fabrics, drapes lambskin, carves jersey and knitwear.” I have really enjoyed the masculine-cut tailored jackets worn over loose-fitting pants, so I couldn’t help but choose this look in ruby red (red has been a very present color in the next Fall/Winter collections), which plays with transparencies in a fine way and is elegant in every aspect.
2) GIORGIO ARMANI: when talking about minimal chic in terms of fashion and design one cannot help but think of Armani, because minimalism has always distinguished the Italian House’s identity and aesthetic. The layered collection presented at Teatro Armani was titled Cipria (face powder in Italian) and was an homage to women’s beauty rituals; the model who closed the show walked the runway while touching up her face with powder). The sartorial garments were inspired by the Orient, which has always influenced the Armani universe (I have already talked about this on the website in my Armani Silos article, where I mentioned the designer’s collaboration with Japanese architect Tadao Andō). The colors in the collection were soft; the many beige garments that opened the show were true sartorial masterpieces, and many of the models were wearing black berets. The color pink was present in a number of garments, confirming itself as a trend for the upcoming fall/winter season as well. One of the first looks featured a faux-fur coat with a beautiful animalier effect, something rarely seen in an Armani collection. The homage to layering fashion, born in the 2000s, was rediscovered in a series of layered outfits that looked elegant and refined, especially in the color combinations. I love this layered look for its wonderful shades of beige and the cut of the coat, with those touches of black giving harmony to the whole ensemble.
New York Fashion Week has always been a great promoter of freedom and thinking outside the box, and in presenting the Fall 2023 collections as well, it did not disappoint, enhancing individuality and originality with looks that allow the wearer to fully express their personality. Examples of this were the looks presented by the brand Area (especially the outfit in fuchsia composed of three-dimensional bananas) and Prabal Gurung’s butterfly motifs that were printed and knitted on dresses and sweaters ranging from pink to turquoise, colors that always seem to return in the designer’s collections. Butterflies that were meant to convey the beauty and fragility of impermanence, which the designer reflected on during a ten-day silent retreat, when he also encountered a butterfly. I was very impressed by Prabal Gurung’s sophisticated Fall 2023 Ready-To-Wear collection (showcased at New York City’s Rainbow Room), with its blouses in sheer tulle and draped dresses, as he envisions “a woman that needs to incorporate elements of sensuality in all aspects of her life”.
I find the beauty of American fashion to be just that; its being genuine and devoid of particular sartorial rules, aiming for eclecticism and authentic self-expression while freely mixing colors, fabrics and different types of craftsmanship.
It is impossible for me to select all the looks I have enjoyed during NYFW so I have chosen 7 looks from different designers, as with the latest fashion week editions:
1) PROENZA SCHOULER: the show was opened by actress Chloe Sevigny, who has been wearing Proenza Schouler since the two designers started out 20 years ago. The collection was presented inside a renovated garage in Chelsea and reinterpreted the meaning of chic; almost completely print-free (apart from some recycled silks from the maison’s archival material) and sequin-finished dresses. A collection characterized by a modern wardrobe, suitable for the working woman in a big-city environment; the collection also presented a series of tweed coats with a modern twist. The soundtrack of the fashion show consisted of Chloe Sevigny’s voice reading some diary fragments written by author Ottessa Moshfegh in a kind of inner monologue. Overall I found it to be a very chic collection, with quasi-minimal looks devoid of excessive ornamentation; I particularly liked this total black outfit, which is elegant and sporty at the same time, especially for the way it plays with transparencies.
2) NAEEM KHAN: this show was Naeem Khan’s celebration of his 20th anniversary as a standalone brand and it was an important milestone in a career that spanned nearly 50 years and began when the designer was an apprentice at Halston. The Fall/Winter 2023/24 collection was designed to enhance not only the clothes but also the women who wear them. The Indian-American designer comes from a family of textile professionals, so he is a great connoisseur of fabrics, having access to artisans who are able to create extraordinary pieces. This collection has something regal and incredibly glamorous about it, and the opening looks also paid homage to the generation of New Yorkers who enjoyed going out to dance, the same generation to which the designer belongs. One only has to take a quick glance at the collection to realize the incredible quality of tailoring that each dress possesses. It is rare that I like each look equally and consider each look as something I would personally wear, but that is what happened with this show. In any case, I am a huge fan of blue in all its shades so I feel compelled to choose this look that I consider the epitome of glamour and that I believe has something truly magical about it.
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