You have to pity luxury. For years, the all-powerful buzzword sold everything from condos to T-shirts. (Coco Chanel, who once said luxury was the opposite of vulgarity, would have been none too pleased.) But now, luxury is so devalued that the word is virtually banished from advertising, with the implication that there’s something unseemly in caring about luxury—let alone luxe fashion— given the entropy plaguing the economy.
There’s an opportunity, therefore, for the purveyors of true luxury to tactfully restore its proper signifi cance to connoisseurs. And it is precisely in these transformative moments that attention should be paid to fashion, which has always been most relevant when it reflected a cultural shift.
With that in mind, a deeply anxious, slightly diminished and thriftier fashion flock began its semiannual tour this season. And, to our great relief, designers delivered thoughtful collections that refl ected their brands’ core values as well as their personal beliefs about luxury.
“Luxury for me is standing for what you believe in, and having integrity,” said Burberry’s Christopher Bailey, who proudly showcased the brand’s icons in a nostalgic light during Milan Fashion Week. “It’s making sure that you have your own point of view. Everything you do should be positioned around that. If you can do that, that’s the greatest luxury to me.”
Milan was ground zero for going back to roots. At Jil Sander, innovative, sculpted tailoring stayed true to minimalism. Giorgio Armani showed the elegant, soft tailoring he has perfected over decades. Prada revived black nylon and triangle nameplates within a gloomy collection dominated by slouchy overcoats and doublebreasted suits that harked back to the brand’s Nineties heyday. Dark sobriety pervaded the collections, but there were some cheerful notes as well, such as Gucci’s New Wave strut.
“The luxurious thing here is everything,” said Gucci’s Frida Giannini. “It’s easy to mention the crocodile and fur and whatever. But I think luxury is when you can see the craftsmanship in every single detail.”
Angela Missoni concurred.
“Everything that has a lot of handwork is precious and luxurious today,” said Missoni. “Luxury is supposed to be something hard to find, something precious. Everything in our collection is artisanal, and we keep it rare, we don’t produce a lot of pieces. I’m very happy when people collect them and keep them for years.”
Dolce & Gabbana showed suits cut from ribbon weavings, and to ensure that the craftsmanship was recognized, video screens around the theater displayed the weaving process.
Some outstanding collections, including Lanvin and Bottega Veneta, took the approach of demystifying luxe fabrics by prewrinkling them or leaving unfinished hems. Treating special fabrics in such an offhand manner signifies a kind of luxury. Versace projected a casual attitude too, but with flawless, Old Hollywood polish.
Milan Vukmirovic, the editor, photographer, retailer and Trussardi 1911 designer, looks at luxury from many angles.
“Maybe it’s difficult now for the consumer to consume, but you have to excite them; propose something that can last more than a season, more than a trend,” he said. He used 70-year-old crocodile skin for some of the bags. Now that’s longevity.
Although all designers seem to cherish the original sense of luxury—the image of artisans working with their hands and passing skills between generations— some also are dedicated to technological advancement.
“Of course, luxury is associated with an expensive quality of leather, or a double-face cashmere, but I think that a more modern interpretation of the word would recognize innovation or a more unique element of a particular piece or design,” said Italo Zucchelli of Calvin Klein Collection, who experimented with wool-bonded, heat-molded foam in the first of his collections to be shown in New York.
Thom Browne held an unorthodox presentation in Florence, where he outfi tted 40 models in a uniform of his most iconic pieces. His necessary luxuries are a dependable uniform and the power to do things his way, every day. “Not having so much choice is what I find refreshing,” he said.
But try telling that to Marc Jacobs.
“Luxury to me is the freedom to choose,” said Jacobs, backstage after the Louis Vuitton show in Paris. “That’s how I defi ne it. Quality is a big part of what makes something luxurious, but ultimately fashion is a whim and people don’t need it, and that makes it the biggest luxury of all. At Vuitton we do what we do. Regardless of the way things are in the world, we have a job to make beautiful clothes, not to solve economic problems, etc.….Maybe with the changing world, the customer is reevaluating how much to spend and what to choose, but a customer who wants luxury and loves fashion will still be that person.”
Breaking News: @louisvuitton's men's artistic director @mrkimjones is leaving the French fashion house after nearly 7 years. Jones joined Louis Vuitton in 2011, following a three year tenure as creative director of British luxury goods brand Alfred Dunhill. Jones is to exit Louis Vuitton after showing his fall 2018 collection for the brand in Paris on Thursday. Read the full exclusive story on WWD.com. Link in bio. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews