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We’re at the end of another very chaotic—but as always interesting– fashion month. As designers, models, and fashion enthusiasts converged in fashion capitals like New York, London, Milan, and Paris, the runways buzzed with excitement, setting the tone for the upcoming season. The media press coverage was once again overwhelming, while the online crowd kept it alive with memes and unsolicited commentary on the looks and the overall vision of younger and already renowned designers.
Gucci’s New Era: Sabato De Sarno’s Debut as Creative Director
One of the season’s most anticipated shows in the fashion world was GUCCI Spring 2024 RTW debuting a new era for the house, as Sabato De Sarno’s first collection as Creative Director. The marketing strategy with the very creative logo “GUCCI ANCORA” written on top of a very plain bordeaux background was displayed in some of the world’s busiest streets, instigating suspense, especially after the breaking news of Creative Director’s Alessandro Michele’s departure from the house, after their 7 year run . Since taking the helm of the iconic Italian fashion house in 2015, Michele has not only revitalized the brand but also redefined the fashion industry’s standards. Fashion experts, the press but mostly GUCCI enthusiasts were constantly having discussions on the brand’s evolution following his exit. Finally, the show day arrived and the result was one: contrast.
It is widely known that De Sarno followed Kering’s instructions to clear GUCCI’s moodboard from Michele’s vintage inspired-maximalist-genderfluid-extravagant aesthetic. The GUCCI ANCORA collection was criticized by many as “missing the wow factor” and being “too wearable” which initiated another conversation of how the quiet luxury movement has affected creativity and uniqueness on the runway.
This GUCCI case serves as a prime illustration of how the most prominent fashion houses are slowly losing their identities and bold histories, shifting their design aesthetic to align with a more subdued, unexciting, and bland approach in response to customer demands.
Capsule Wardrobes and Sustainability in the World of Quiet Luxury
It has to be taken into consideration that the concept of a “capsule wardrobe” is now becoming more and more realistic since luxury customers can own timeless and quality items from almost all the big houses. Moreover the emphasis on quality and longevity in quiet luxury pieces can align with sustainability goals, as people may be more inclined to keep hold of and get creative with their already owned classic items rather than constantly purchasing trendy new ones. Nevertheless, the audience needs fashion to be provocative. The runway needs to project a back story, a dream, a vision, a childhood memory, a trip souvenir, and De Sarno, in the ANCORA collection, encountered some challenges in effectively delivering this narrative to the audience. In the final analysis, given that the companies responsible for leading fashion houses primarily measure success based on numerical metrics, they should contemplate the favorable media coverage and potential profits generated by the ‘viral’ runways. (For instance, the Coperni SS23 spray-on dress remains a topic of conversation, considered one of the most iconic moments in the history of fashion).
The Need for Provocation on the Runway
Numerous emerging designers, who are relatively smaller and less experienced in the fashion industry, are dedicating their resources and creative vision to produce exceptional and meticulously crafted garments. However, due to constraints such as limited financial resources and industry connections or lack of brand recognition, their names remain confined to a niche market. Indeed, these emerging designers deserve recognition in order to revitalize the fashion industry, reignite discussions, and encourage a return to daring experimentation and boldness.
For instance, Japanese house Noir Kei Ninomiya is a prime example of how monochromatic black and white looks can create an incredible fusion of minimalist presentation, but always an ode to interesting textures and complex garment construction. Designer Kei Ninomiya, having a rich background working with Commes des Garçons and Junya Watanabe, constantly stepping it up in each collection, proving that the limits of what can be done with materials, forms, craftsmanship, and techniques can always be pushed even more.
Also, Paula Canovas del Vas, after ranking as a semi-finalist of the LVMH Prize in 2022, presented her second collection in her little atelier on the 19th Arrondissement of Paris and she described it as “wrapping yourself as a present”. The focus of this collection was also to play with textures, even if her pieces are intended to be aesthetically pleasing, they are meant to stimulate some of the other senses while remaining comfortable, and paying homage to her home country, Spain.
Of course we can’t skip Marco Rambaldi’s Spring 2024 RTW Collection, who with this collection wanted to deeper explore the concept of freedom and successfully transmitting it on the runway, having his models walk barefoot, wearing his-already signature-carefully made knits and holding their shoes. Rambaldi’s latest collection is a prime example of how trendy and “social media fashion girly approved” items can still appear elegant and be thoughtfully made without falling under the umbrella of a “microtrend”. Other collections that are very interesting to take a look at on a creative aspect are: Commes des Garçons SS24 RTW, Tommo Koizumi SS24 RTW, Caroline Hu SS24 RTW and Toga SS24 RTW.
What about the bigger renowned fashion houses?
Valentino, under the same creative direction of Pier Paolo Piccioli lately has undergone a significant transformation in recent collections, adopting the idea of quiet luxury through the simplification and minimization of its designs. This change represents a move away from the brand’s more flamboyant and extravagant past and toward understated elegance and timeless aesthetics. After all, Piccioli’s priority is to opt for cleaner lines, simpler silhouettes, and a reduced color palette. This minimalist aesthetic emphasizes the intrinsic beauty of the materials and craftsmanship used in each piece.
Prada on the other hand, is also following the quiet luxury movement, simplifying their designs, but still managing to have a big moment on the runway (it’s Prada after all!). Miuccia Prada’s minimalism-with-a-twist timeless sense of design along with the love of Raf Simons for heavy unconventional layering and unexpected silhouettes is an ideal illustration of how minimalism and boldness can perfectly coexist in one look without making the audience feel uneasy or bored.
Last but not least, Nadège Vanhee at Hermès took a more modern approach of quiet luxury. The creative director managed to maintain the brand’s extremely luxurious and chic image, but slightly shifted into “modern classics” designed to draw in the younger, wealthier clientele with knit bra tops matched with fitted skirts and leather pants, most on the biggest color trend of the season, burgundy.
The modern fashion audience, known for their love of self-expression and bold fashion choices, is increasingly seeking runway moments that make them gasp, that leave them inspired and eager to explore new styles. They are the generation that made streetwear, avant-garde fashion, and sustainability into cultural touchstones, and they’re expecting more from the fashion industry.
Fashion as Art: Balancing Elegance and Creativity
We anticipate trendsetters, not items that already exist in fast fashion brands. We should regard fashion as a form of art, ensuring that each piece serves as a reference point, allowing people to associate it with the designer and the era it represents, making it memorable. The key lies in finding the equilibrium between understated elegance and exhilarating creativity. Designers should remember that fashion is an art form, and art thrives on diversity. Quiet luxury will always have its admirers, but it should coexist with more daring, avant-garde pieces. This diversity can cater to a broader audience and keep the industry’s enthusiasts excited about what’s next. Fashion, like any art form, is constantly evolving, and creativity will continue to find its place within the industry no matter what. Right now the most intriguing question is: will quiet luxury just be a passing fad or is it poised to become the defining fashion statement of our time?