Your “Real” Clothes Report for Spring/Summer
By Barbara Barton Sloane
The start of spring was officially more than a month ago, but with the entire country and the majority of the Western world currently in enforced lockdown due to the Corona virus outbreak, there have been few fair-weather celebrations. However, lacking a reason to don any real clothes at this moment, we are looking ahead. Just as we dream about the places we’ll go once it’s safe, most of us are also anticipating having fun with fashion again. Cheer up gals! The time may be sooner than you think! A host of hues graced the Spring/Summer 2020 runways, as well as some timeless neutrals and closet staples. Take a look….
Sarah Burton had a pared down yet nonetheless monumental Spring 2020 collection for Alexander McQueen. As she wrote in her show notes, “ I love the idea of people having the time to make things together, the time to meet and talk together, the time to reconnect to the world.” Quite prescient, no? Ms Burton upcycled lace, organza and tulle from prior seasons. She worked primarily with light-as-paper linens from Northern Ireland and designed embroideries of vivid, blooming flowers for a dress of silk faille. Memorable was a beautifully cut British mohair sharkskin, ivory-colored coat dress boldly belted in black patent that would work particularly well for these not altogether sunshiny days. Overall, these were looks that demanded a red carpet or a wedding day, or at the least, a very, very chic day!
Women go to Ely Tahari for a no-frills suit and professionalwear. For years, the label has provided wardrobe solutions for the office grind. But Tahari does know how to loosen up. He offered a cheeky cheetah-print, classic trench that was very cool, indeed. A camel-hued suit was cut with just one button at the navel, giving it a hot, slightly flared-out waist. Tahari’s purposely straightforward olive-hued silk shirtwaist frock seemed to have been designed precisely for this slightly spring-sobered time. It was marvelous!
Fendi’s Silvia Venturini described her show as a “solar mood,” that anxiety-free state of sun-kissed, high-summer bliss that we are, right about now, all longing for – and she knew how to capture it. She said “today I feel ….the choices are mine – no compromise.” The sun rose on Fendi’s new day to reveal a languidly relaxed collection of clothing into which was embedded the artisanal expertise for which the house if renowned. Brown suede wrap dresses and trenches, lightly perforated to let the breeze pass through, were engagingly loose. In keeping with the season, there were superlight organic washed-cotton workwear pieces, and a quilted cotton floral dress reflected her will to make this a most wearable collection. Designed to let the summer wind gently caress the body was a crocheted mustard-colored top and beige skirt –slightly daring – totally desirable.
A large part of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino Spring show was dedicated to white. “I wanted to work on something universal, to get back to the essence of shape and volume,” he said. So much white can’t help but draw comparisons with Valentino Garavani’s 1968 All White collection which was epoch-making for the house. But Piccioli is the creator of the second epoch of success that has come around for Valentino – the fashion and his sensitivity to what women of all ages went to wear just keeps flowing effortlessly. Piccioli’s easy black sheath did flow effortlessly to the floor – a dress as simple-as-spring itself but enlivened with boldly printed exotic hot house flowers evoking a night in Tunisia, in Capri, or, why not? The Hamptons.
There was no mistaking Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s theme this season. Their show was kitted out in giant palms and the runway was carpeted in leopard print. Gabbana clarified, “we enjoy making something glamorous, and we love the sense of happiness, of summertime. It’s our philosophy.” The designers touched on all the elements of their chosen theme starting with safari suiting and cycling through animal and tropical prints and resortwear designed for lounging poolside but absolutely too special to actually swim in. Interspersed throughout the collection were quite a few little black dresses. Gabbana declared of these “a little bit ‘90s…this is why we make again black sexy things.” A number that could see a lot of Spring/Summer fun, D&G’s deep forest green silk sundress, perfect for late afternoon cocktails or dinner with an ocean view. The simple frock was enlivened with a pretty white cockatiel smack dab front and center. My guess is that if the bird cared to speak, it wouldn’t say “nevermore” but instead “Now, right now!”
Cynthia Rowley sent down the runway low-slung silk trousers in a sweatpant silhouette swirled with brown, bronze, white and pink that added a needed masculine factor to the femme-forward collection. Her boxy jacket using a macramé technique and printed with trippy florals was, well, groovy. Now, the designer has started making surfwear completely out of sustainable materials. “Think about all of the microplastics in the ocean!” she said. When you make things with the right values, when you treat the earth and its citizens with care and respect, when you endeavor to reimagine what might once have been tossed aside, when you take the time to truly care about every piece you create, you simply make better things.