This year’s Spring/Summer 2021 season persisted in a new norm of virtual presentations and socially-distanced shows. Arguably, even the most high-quality live streams or short films can’t hold a candle to the spark of seeing a new collection strut down the runway in real life. But what this limitation means to emerging designers of fashion capitals across the globe, is freedom. These rising stars confronted the industry’s faltering reality face to face, and as they affirmed the message of optimism and creativity through garments, they simultaneously broke free of the glam and glory of in-person spectacles and turned to technology to unfold their designs at our fingertips via a single-screen experience. From New York‘s abstract, underground-influenced designers to London‘s next-generation talents wielding bold aesthetics, CR looks into five young, emerging designers from this fall fashion month season whose collections are prescient of the future to come.
At London Fashion Week, sexiness was elevated in 16Arlington‘s Spring/Summer 2021 collection. Known for their more-is-more aesthetic and lavish contemporary eveningwear, the creative duo behind the brand, Federica Cavenati and Marco Capaldo, spent their quarantine rethinking their approach to combat the world’s mercurial, banal domesticity. And the solution was clear: balancing minimalism and maximalism.
The collection delves into the allure and vastness of the ocean with seashell-inspired hues and tie-dyes. But amongst the pastels and pink, the duo decided to champion brown as the new It color in light leather, while a palpable ‘90s femininity gives away to the laid-back elegance of these dresses that exude a delicate opulence in their bias-cut velvet and slinky silk. With lush fabrics impeccably finished in cuts and drapes, 16Arlington delivered a body of art that communicates optimism and escapism for the future of fashion. And the duo’s expressive minimalism that invests in quality and timelessness, might just be the next aesthetic to look out for.
Edvin Thompson, the designer behind the contemporary clothing brand Theophilio, presented its Spring/Summer 2021 collection entitled “Migration” during New York Fashion Week. Marrying the nostalgia of his juvenile years in Jamaica and the progressive culture of Brooklyn where Theophilio is based, Thompson’s mens and womenswear are a reflection and salute of life, of triumphs, and of overcoming tribulations.
At the roots of Thompson’s collection are Rastafarian flag colors (red, green, and gold). There is the soft shirts with extended sleeves, tank dresses in fringe and mesh, pleated and sheer slip tops, leather pants, color-blocked blazers, and wild paisley and leopard prints. Beyond Theophilio’s core values of authenticity, Thompson also channeled his personal point of view as an immigrant. His pieces are told through a digital short film that takes viewers on a musical ride down the Dawkins Drive in Portmore, St. Catherine, Jamaica. As each collection staple flashes by, Thompson’s Jamaican roots and Brooklyn spirits clash and combust in Migration, constituting a wearable biography of Thompson, and the brand ideology of Theophilio.
In London, Fashion East’s newcomer Maximilian Davis, undaunted by making his debut digitally, launched his freshman collection titled “J’ouvert”. What is, at first glance, an ambitious vocation to unite sophisticated modern fashion with uplifting black creativity in London, is rooted in the rich history of Trinidadian Carnival intrinsic to Davis’ identity.
Emulating the extravaganza of Trinidadian Carnival costumes, the collection conveys an unbridled sex appeal tamed by a subtle reading of poise. The slashed calf-suede dresses with asymmetric straps and the pleated miniskirts and satin shirts decorated with goose feathers address the history of emancipation; the layered dress coats, harness-backed gowns, disjointed silhouettes, and the garment cut-outs throughout the collection echo the spirited attitude of carnival that came out of it. Presented in a lookbook that contrasts the palette of primary colors with the radiating skin of models, J’ouvert is Davis’ deeply personal narrative of celebrating black cultural heritage in all its splendor and nuance.
Coming off her CFDA debut in New York, Maisie Wilen’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection is an exploration of viewing and manipulating the perception of clothes through their designs. Idealized the now inaccessible, her collection was made possible by her quarantine experience. On her inspiration, Wilen explained: “Coincidentally lockdown generated the exact environment of rarely seeing things in person, an ironically perfect setting for this research.”
Wilen’s collection flirts with the blurring of reality and fantasy. Its vivid, abstract prints bleed into each layering of fabrics, and the use of sheeny, metallic woven textiles is accentuated by the looseness of silhouettes, rendering an array of optical illusions in lime greens, neon pinks, and milky silvers. Along with her signature perforation and cut-outs, Wilen’s effortless flow of designs submerges viewers in an ethereal imagery evoked by the cookbook’s idyllic backdrop. Within, a unique air of femininity breaches through what is real and what is not, resonating with Wilen’s artistry as a visionary designer.
The abbreviated summer of 2020 was deprived of the sun-drenched paradise near the seashore and was marked by a constant impulse to be freed of physical constraints and uncertainty. For Milan Fashion Week, Chinese designer Shuting Qiu responded to these sentiments with a “Summer Wonderland” collection of freedom and light, by harnessing the apocalyptic beauty of summertime and the pensive nostalgia thereof.
Inspired by Russian neo-cubist artist Natalia Goncharova, Shuting Qiu’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection features the designer’s signature juxtaposition of loud, colorful prints splashed over silky jacquard miniskirts and matching tights. While experimenting with light fabrics and short lengths, Qiu also delivered asymmetric frocks and double-breasted blazers realized in beaded floral embroideries, bold checks, and stripe suiting. Her animated collection effortlessly echoes the effervescent memory of a midsummer beach getaway, and her documentary-style short-film presentation is a daring but romantic showcase of strong, elegant, confident heroines, inspired by the intimate beach photography of Martin Parr.END
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