01 | Chanel
Destination: The Mediterranean
If it weren’t for Covid-19, Virginie Viard would have set Chanel’s Resort 2021 against the scenic surrounds of the Mediterranean Sea.
So instead of designing with the Capri in mind, she decided to work the collection around the glamorous and free-spirited jet-setter. Viard’s day-to-night wardrobe focused on the bandeau top, which featured in various looks.
One salmon-pink tweed thriller offered lemon-yellow embroidery and sequin embellishment, and was teamed with a matching jacket and blue jeans. Another, in lively bougainvillea pink and encrusted with mosaic-inspired silver embroidery, perked up a striking purple tweed skirt suit.
Here’s the idea: one can wear the bandeau top on its own during the day, then throw on a jacket for evening cocktails. To create “a wardrobe that can be carried in a little suitcase on wheels, a shopper and an embroidered handbag”, Viard also experimented with multipurpose pieces. Maxi skirts could be hiked up and worn as strapless midi dresses while light-as-air chiffon jackets doubled as poolside cover-ups. Even a lamé draped dress could be untied and worn as a sweeping robe.
Viard also took the opportunity to showcase a standout selection of accessories, such as a quilted shoulder bag fully embroidered with clear sequins, to evoke the warmth of the setting sun.
02 | Burberry
Instead of trying to flout regulations by the UK government during the lockdown, Burberry traversed the whole of London and photographed its collection on its staff members.
It harked back to Riccardo Tisci’s something-for-everyone approach when he took the helm in 2019. Against that sometimes voyeuristic view of the city’s suburban streets, it was Tisci who oftentimes stoked our imagination with his sophisticated streetwear-meets-quintessentially English tailoring looks.
The focus this season was on Burberry’s signature checkered pattern — variations ranged from a fitted men’s suit (worn with red tartan underneath!) to an androgynous wool coat that abstracted only horizontal lines.
The designer was in a pensive mood, which was aptly expressed by an English rose motif that elevated classic silhouettes like a puffy-sleeved shirtdress, slim-fitted trousers and a button-down shirt.
03 | Dior
Destination: Puglia, Italy
Located in the south of Italy, Puglia is where Maria Grazia Chiuri’s father hails from, no surprise that it’s a place close to her heart.
With this collection, she sought to highlight the cherished crafting traditions of the Pugliese community, “and how important it is, especially for younger generations, to invest in this,” she said. With references to the on-trend cottagecore movement, Chiuri pulled together a 90-look presentation with panache.
Pinafore dresses were cut all the way to the ankle while blanket-fringed skirts were worn over flat boots. Meanwhile, kerchief head scarves and delicately embroidered prairie blouses were juxtaposed with rugged leather corsets.
And you can’t miss the Pugliese elements: a gently-flared A-line ballgown was accentuated with 3D flowers and butterflies crafted using tombolo lace, a rare Pugliese material dating back to the 15th century. Adding a touch of elegance to modern rompers and tailored vests, meanwhile, were threads meticulously handwoven using the la constantine technique for a rustic, blanket-like look. And as an invitation to rediscover the joys of whiling away endless afternoons in the Pugliese countryside, Chiuri also concocted grand tulle frocks covered with metallic constellations or golden wheat.
04 | Max Mara
Destination: St Petersburg, Russia
“What I love about St Petersburg,” creative director Ian Griffiths lets on, “is that its architecture was designed as a rational, ordered single unit. Its neoclassical design was beautifully executed with a kind of poetry to it. I wanted to do a collection that had an idea of good design and order.”
But rather than go down the beaten path of opulent embroidery and heavy velvets, Griffiths carefully selected elements from Russian history and culture, marrying them with Max Mara’s pared-down sensibilities.
Russian constructivism — the art movement characterised by angular lines and clean shapes — for instance, inspired sleek silhouettes. A structured dress was softened by a layered handkerchief hem while swishy pleated pants uplifted a boardroom-ready blazer.
With his superb sense of balance between nostalgic and new, Griffiths’ latest creations are poised to be a hit with the brand’s fans. A densely woven jacquard fabric in antique gold thread showed up as a shift dress or as a trim on the peaked lapels of a pristine white blazer. Finally, faded florals straight off the walls of Russian palaces prettied up silk dresses.
05 | Sacai
Destination: Tokyo, Japan
Like many of us, Chitose Abe completed this collection while WFH. But it allowed the Tokyo-based designer to reflect deeply on her personal ethos: “Even before the coronavirus situation, I believed in this idea. No matter your race, culture or sexuality, love overrules.”
With that, she sought out a collaboration with artist Hank Willis Thomas, whose works frequently feature the phrase, “Love Over Rules”. With looks that are meant to be worn in everyday settings, Abe played up the idea of mix-and-match in this collection. She pulled from her archive utilitarian cottons and striking floral fabrics, reworking them into urban staples like cargo shorts, asymmetric dresses and sporty tees.
And with clever deconstruction, she managed to turn precious into practical — mannish coats and trench-inspired dresses were spliced with pleated panels of silk or chiffon, and worn with chunky sneakers. By drawing on Tokyo’s exhilarating streetwear scene, she abstracted patterns off vintage Navajo shirts and collaged them over basketball jerseys, cargo skirts and tent dresses.
06 | Versace
Destination: Miami, Florida
For her first Flash collection — a result of Donatella reworking her Resort calendar and splitting it into two drops — Versace takes us back to Miami in the heyday of Gianni.
Inspired by musicians and the notoriously scandalous clubs along the lively streets of South Beach, the Flash collection checked several Versace signatures. Brazenly sexy silhouettes? Present, thanks to a black mini dress that showed peeks of the model’s bum! Animal prints? They were all there, from neon pink snakeskin to deep brown leopard spots. Medusa logos? Even on silky pyjama shirts for the boys.
But to push Versace beyond explicit sexiness, Donatella decided to deliver daywear — many of them impressive too. A pastel argyle sweater paired with mint green trousers was an instant reminder of the ’80s Miami crowd thronging the beach for long, leisurely brunches. A men’s two-piece pyjama would be perfect for strutting about the deck of your yacht, champagne flute in hand. And because more is always more, finishing touches are absolutely necessary — square-toed loafers, chunky platform heels and gold hardware.
07 | Valentino
Destination: Nettuno, Italy
Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collection for Valentino was all about restraint and simplicity. “I wanted to be even more radical,” the designer explained, before pointing out that “the simplicity I’ve tried to achieve in shapes, volumes and construction comes at the end of a process of resolved complexities.”
So while pieces, at first glance, came off as clean and minimalist, closer examination revealed intricate cutting techniques and proportional plays. For example, a white tent dress got its flared cut not from the usual side seams but from darts at the neckline. Or a jumpsuit did away with a waist seam for a smoother shape.
But this is Valentino, and drama remains integral to its DNA. If one were to bask by the waterfront, one could hardly go wrong with an embroidered black cape and gold swim shorts. And for indulging in those sea nymph fantasies, Piccioli proposed a floor-length gown that bore coral-inspired motifs embroidered onto a patchwork of periwinkle blue and pale yellow.
This story first appeared in the November 2020 issue of A Magazine.