Ski vacation cosplay is the most curious trend of AW21
Whether it is luxury trunks, high-quality ski wear or polo clothing, there is no shortage of luxury houses that began by responding to the quiet lifestyles of European nobility. And, to be honest, even if they don’t yell about it, a lot of them still do. It is not a strange coincidence, for example, that you will find a greater concentration of shops of certain labels in the Alps than on the whole African continent. Indeed, fashion’s close links with chic leisure are by no means a secret. In today’s cultural climate, however, where the virtues of global appeal and universal access are touted, these aren’t the fanciest things to scream. Or they weren’t, at least, until this season.
Rather than keeping their candle credentials on the DL, homes from Chanel to Fendi, Gucci to Miu Miu have flooded their tracks with overt nods to activities that it takes a pretty penny to participate in – furs, riding boots. and overalls galore. You could argue that this is just a straightforward gesture on their part – a simple matter of knowing what your customer wants and giving them exactly that. After all, no matter how democratic fashion is appeal perhaps now the prices of these particular designers are hardly accessible to all. However, in 2021, taking sports that are historically the preserve of a very wealthy social milieu – not to say overwhelmingly white – and giving them the hot look of this season seems a little out of step with the times.
Obviously, however, there is more to it than you see at first glance – why would we be here otherwise, duh! On the one hand, the rehabilitation of a high bourgeois the look is not this New. It’s a trend that has accelerated since about SS20 (cc: this Prada show). What makes we’ve seen this season feel a bit more on the nose, however, is the referential specificity – it’s not just about lavish chocolate suede coats that involve a certain level of wealth; it’s clothes that let the world know exactly what you like to spend.
Image courtesy of Miu Miu
This is certainly the case with the avalanche (!) Of ski references that we have seen this season. At Chanel, there were faux fur snow boots, monogrammed beanies, and towering shearling jackets – clothes that seemed more literal in their intentions than the tweed blanket coats and Fair Isle-inspired knits we’ve got. seen during Karl Lagerfeld’s posthumous AW19 finale, surrounded by a blanket of snow. Alpine chalets erected at the Grand Palais. Meanwhile, Miu Miu paraded girls across a literal mountainside, in furry jumpsuits, chunky-knit hoods and pastel-filled vests, coats, and panties.
That’s not, of course, to say that you should actually adopt a full Miu Miu look for your first post-Covid escape to the mountains. As Miuccia herself said in a statement, these were “clothes that could challenge perception and context … the pretext of practicality” – so please: don’t head towards the black race in look 18. Yet there is another point to note here with respect to the context. While many looks may have drawn heavily from the aesthetic codes of ski wear – especially in terms of materiality – there was a measure of hyperbolic camp involved that made the whole look like an ironic parody. Seeing models walking through the winter Dolomites in padded leotards, elbow-length mittens and nothing else, it was more like Mrs P. gently nerving a haughty skiing fantasy, rather than fueling it.
Image courtesy of Chanel
The same could be said of Chanel, although the approach here is perhaps a little more serious. Presented at the legendary Parisian nightclub Castel, it felt like an attempt to take clothes that are typically only worn in spaces of extreme social privilege and present them in a context that a wider audience can align themselves with. You heard it here first: Chanel quilted overalls aren’t just for runways – they work well on your local dance floor as well!
The above examples speak of a more general truth, however. Today’s customer doesn’t want to be talked to or told to aspire to a “status” that they don’t want to pursue in the first place. It has become increasingly important for fashion brands working today to actively demonstrate their self-awareness – to verify their privilege, if you will – and to show that they know nothing is too sacred, not even their own “ prestigious ” codes.
Image courtesy of Gucci
For a masterclass of what this looks like in practice, look no further than Aria, Alessandro Michele’s century-old collection for Gucci. While his “ hack ” of Kering’s partner, Balenciaga, garnered the lion’s share of attention, one of the collection’s most notable features was the designer’s irreverent treatment of the house’s equestrian heritage. Take ‘the equestrian world of Gucci [and] metamorphosing it into a fetish cosmogony, ”the show’s notes read, Alessandro accessorized his Gucci strip with harnesses, polished riding boots and velvet jockey caps. Their looks indicated the house’s origins as a saddler for Italian nobility, but as the models cracked whips as they walked, they took on a more subversive aspect. Essentially, through simple gestures and effective style, Gucci has subtly pushed the sacrosanct social codes of which it is a product.
But where they left off, it was really a challenge. Those who did these are the independent labels that we hope to see one day rise in their ranks. In the AW21 collection of the GmbH, Welt am Draht, the Berlin-based brand gave us the Blade Runner clubbiness that you instinctively associate with their hometown – think of the green lycra tops and their black vegan leather double-zip pants. However, Benjamin Huseby and Serhat Işik made their strongest point in more understated pieces like monochrome knit sweaters with Islamic geometric check patterns, swirling zipper riding boots worn over jodhpurs and a suite of demi-couture outerwear. shoulder coats and jackets in thick black wool and faux fur.
Image courtesy of GmbH
Returning to Miuccia’s intention of creating “clothes that could challenge perception and context,” what Benjamin and Serhat did here took a big step further. Showing the collection exclusively on brown and black male bodies, they challenged the contexts – and people – to which we associate specific garments. They confronted the public with their implicit biases, asking Why certain spaces and “activities like horseback riding, hiking or skiing are normally seen as more for the candles, the whites and the wealthy,” says Serhat, and Why we then project these assumptions onto inanimate clothing, encoding them as objects that only a certain type of person is allowed to wear. There are parallels to be drawn here with what we’ve seen at Gucci – the idea of subjecting the tropes of social privilege to some sort of fetish power play. In the case of GmbH, however, it seems the stakes are higher. It’s not just about playing with the codes for fun, or to prove a point: “We wanted to reclaim these spaces, basically,” Serhat says.
The easy conclusion to draw here is that the common thread running through this trend, like so much of fashion, is fantasy – that it reflects an appetite for a little harmless posho acting at a time when we couldn’t be. more eager for meaning. of escape. On some level, that’s probably true. On another, however, it’s also worth pointing out that this trend reflects the spirit of the times. We’re not saying the cost of pieces for any of the brands mentioned here is what you might call affordable, but fashion has evolved beyond the idea of just selling clothes; it is a cultural artefact and a driving force in its own right. As such, the Courchevel couture we saw on the AW21 catwalks is not so much the result of the houses simply responding to their customers from day one; rather, it feels like an attempt to take aesthetic codes that have long felt out of reach for so many people and make them feel a little closer to home.
Image courtesy of GmbH
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