Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.
When Clothing Is Your Second Language
Should Ferragamo, Tod’s and Trussardi make more — or less — of being accessory houses?
10 Марта 2016
It is no news in the industry that many fashion houses are built on shoes and handbags rather than clothes. The concept has been accepted for at least two decades, with the Prada-Gucci stand-off in the Tom Ford years of the 1990s as a defining moment for Italian fashion. Surely upscale customers across the world all get it — that if accessories are front of store, they are also in the front line for sales. Working out why clothes from these companies are secreted away on upper floors does not require rocket science; they bring in a fraction of the company’s trade. I have been thinking about this conundrum during my current trip to Milan, where the calendars are scattered with accessories-only events. But they don’t receive as much attention as when they put their creations on the catwalk. So I have been pondering the direction that the masters of shoes and bags should, or could, be taking.
Salvatore Ferragamo: Comfort and Joy
The colourful, angular, eye-popping, patterned runway told the story of Salvatore Ferragamo from designer Massimiliano Giornetti in one word: “art”. Although the shoes and bags have become richer and more three-dimensional during his tenure — for example a heel lapped with fur — they remain practical, with the designer enthusiastic about his role. "I always play with details. It’s about the freshness of shoes, about wanting to show the beautiful craftsmanship,” Giornetti said before the show, where a table of accessories had a bold position backstage. On the fashion side, the designer said he had focused on the stirrings of contemporary art in the early 20th century in the Bauhaus and Dada eras.
The graphically patterned runway told the same story as the clothes, which often seemed like artworks, ingenious in the way that zigzags were worked around the womanly figure (although Missoni has been there before). Occasionally the geometric effects were worked into the body shape, as when a dress in the finest, silken pleats in pink, green, black and mustard lead down to a pair of green shoes. Ah, the shoes! After looking at a black-and-white vertical-striped coat with a row of six mink pom poms, bootees with a thin geometric pattern seemed calm. The same was true of a shocking-pink buttoned skirt and an orange lined cape with furry buttons. That outfit was worn with furry metallic heels in plain black. Just occasionally the collection’s boot was on the other foot, when elegant layers of white pleats descended to blue fur shoes.
Giornetti is honest and straightforward about his approach: the clothes are for statement dressing; but the shoes are for real.
Tod’s: A Moment of Emotion
The image of model Karlie Kloss lying on a wooden workbench wearing a leather outfit as her second skin has already flashed around the world. The moment of emotion in this performance art by Vanessa Beecroft came not from the reclined figure of Karlie, nor the other models behind her, their nude bodies covered with pieces of leather.
Instead it came from the artisan in his white coat, with three others stitching together the leather. Diego Della Valle, the owner of the Tod’s empire, explained that he wanted people to understand the art and artisanship behind the label in this performance, called "VB Handmade". Following the drama of Beecroft’s staging of performance art for Kanye West to kick off the New York fashion season, Tod’s and its skills with leather were a worldwide hit. But in spite of the celebrities in attendance, especially from Asia, the Tod’s fashion show that followed the art installation did not get nearly as much attention.
Designer Alessandra Facchinetti struck the right note of sporty energy with a focus on leather, although there was also plaid wool for a trouser suit, its wine colour the better to show off a white, patterned bag and white Tod’s loafers. Another plaid coat had its red lines reflected in the scarlet boot laces, and I wondered which came first — the russet fur stole or the russet shoes. In her show notes (where bags and shoes merited more words than the clothes), the designer said that stitching leather into the outfits, as in closures or belts, was part of her work on design identity. If Tod’s wants something sporty chic to complement its powerful accessories, the designer is getting things just right.
Trussardi: Hello, Dolly!
I am not sure that Dolly Parton would have recognised herself in Trussardi’s vision of Country and Western clothes: a cream cape with orange leather trim to match the boots; or an orange shearling jacket with variation of the same shade for sunglasses, shirt, trousers and suede boots. The denim in this line-up of “country” clothes consisted of a jean jacket with a chiffon skirt trailing the catwalk or a shapely jacket and skinny jeans. But Gaia Trussardi had gathered a bunch of songsters to get us into an American mood by singing Elvis Presley’s greatest hits.
Predominant on the runway were Trussardi leather goods: the boots and especially the bags, with handles pushed up to the elbow for a better display. They looked good, whether as a tufty orange furry tote to match the model’s fiery hair; a scarlet leather tote to match with plaid; or a small, flat-bottomed, hardwear-decorated handbag. A bag for all seasons and reasons is what Trussardi is about. They could not have been better made or displayed. But as with so many leather houses, there is no sense that the clothes came first — or that they have much purpose other than as a backdrop to the accessories.
Trussardi, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Trussardi, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
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