It seems like the more algorithms rule our lives, the more homogenized the creative arts have become. All of that sameness is starting to look radically boring. Haute Couture is one of the last remaining realms that can truly delight, astonish, and move the viewer, bringing imagination and craftsmanship to the fore to prove the best that each house’s ateliers are capable of – and they are capable of astonishment.
After living in sweats and athleisure for the past year, the Spring 2021 Couture collections brought with them some much needed fashion fantasy, but there are three in particular that really made our jaws drop and our minds spin. For his first collection at Fendi, Kim Jones brought his keen eye for detail to the 1920s and 1930s longline silhouettes with a fantastic array of floor-scraping dresses worn by a coterie of the world’s finest: Naomi Campbell, Cara Delevingne, Adwoa Aboah, Demi Moore, and Kate Moss.
At Area, the hot New York-based house flaunted its design skill with a truly inclusive couture line-up unlike any we’ve seen before. Finally, rounding out our triumvirate of excess and splendor comes Schiaparelli, which has been blowing our minds ever since Daniel Roseberry assumed the helm in 2019, but this collection in particular was next level brilliant. Read on for why these three Spring 2021 Couture collections are Savoir Flair’s most mindblowing picks of the season.
Fendi Spring 2021 Couture
To understand Kim Jones, the newly minted Creative Director of womenswear at Fendi, one must understand where he comes from. His life straddles continents – namely, Africa and Europe – having been raised in between Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Botswana and London and Sussex. The forces that formed his life are not only found in geography, but in the influence of the Bloomsbury Group otherwise known as that famed group of writers, artists, and intellectuals – like Virignia Woolf – who inhabited the northern reaches of Jones’ map.
His debut at collection at Fendi arrived for Spring 2021 Couture, allowing him to really flex the full power of his ability to enchant. Reminiscent of the characters from Woolf’s Orlando, where gender norms are thrown out, the masculine/feminine meet in long-cuffed, diaphanous dresses and bifurcated blends of blazers and floral printed dainty gowns.
Even in the lavish universe of couture, the rule of fashion remains true: it is the woman who wears the clothes, not the clothes that wear the woman (or man, which applies in this case). This is evidenced by the fierce and substantive beauties who donned the collection. They are the equivalent of modern day royals, and casting plays a vital role because it demonstrates the living moments of couture. It is not only how clothing looks and walks and moves, but how it flatters and uplifts the woman who wears it. And this was a cast for the ages. Therefore, it logically follows that the Fendi Spring 2020 Couture collection and its precise silhouettes, genius construction, and precious details bear the transitive properties of the divine women who wore them.
New York City-based house Area, the brainchild of Piotrek Panszczyk and Beckett Fogg who met at Parsons School of Design and launched their business in 2013, has been a breath of fresh air in the fashion world. While their clothes are whimsical and party-oriented, they also come braided with the feeling that although the designs seem familiar they are unique enough that you don’t feel like you’ve seen it before. It’s so refreshing to witness their growth that they are almost singlehandedly making American fashion interesting again.
Yet, for all of the thrills of their ready-to-wear, it’s the haute couture arena where the duo really shine. To understand how special their work is, you have to see the clothes in person. The magic and intricacy of the craftsmanship that goes into Area’s couture collections are at the level of what’s being produced at the finest ateliers in Italy and France. This is due to their stable of craftspeople that are sourced the world over, from India to Russia. Their brilliance has captivated a younger generation, bringing new blood to the old world of haute couture. The industry has tagged them as “disruptors” and the label seems fitting for these boundary pushing designers.
Area’s Spring 2021 Couture collection was breathtaking, dripping in hundreds of thousands of Swarovski crystals, which had been twisted and rendered into gravity-defying, sinuous shapes that wound around the body. And to their great benefit, they didn’t just create these looks for the traditional fashion body, but put them on Precious Lee, a curve model who wore the hell out of every look – from a jaw dropping burnt orange accordion gown to Madame Grès-inspired crystal-studded cord dresses. This is one of the most exciting collections we’ve seen in fashion in eons, and you would be robbed by the full impact of the impeccable design if you don’t view them in motion. We urge you to pay a visit to Area’s Instagram page so you can fully appreciate how spectacular the construction of each look truly is.
Schiaparelli, the house founded by Elsa Schiaparelli in the 1930s, which came to define surrealist fashion, was shuttered in 1954. People came and went, attempting to revive it, and failing. Diego Della Valle tried in 2007. Marco Zanini tried in 2013. But what made Schiaparelli special seemed impossible to replicate, which further prompted the question: should anyone even try?
Then Daniel Roseberry came along. He was appointed to Schiaparelli in April 2019, having only two months to create a collection for a house whose shoes were so spectacularly big that no one had ever been able to adequately fill them before. As his debut collection took the runway, it was his words we fell in love with before we ever saw his designs.
In his inaugural show notes he wrote, “At the time, I was renting a skinny, shoebox-shaped studio cut out of my friend’s larger third-floor atelier, where she made hats. For the month of December, I sat at my drafting table, wearing gloves and a hood (the heater didn’t work, or not well enough), listening to the rumble of the M train rattling over the Manhattan Bridge past my one window, and sketching. I thought often about the nature of creativity, and about how an artist forms his aesthetic only when he’s able to retreat to the purest, most childlike part of himself, the place in which nothing can be wrong and nothing can be bad, because everything exists in the realm of possibility. That’s what becoming an artist demands. Staying an artist means trying to hold on to that exuberance, that naivete, that sense of wonder. Cynicism, world- weariness, snobbery: Those are the artist’s enemies. Creativity only moves forward if you can let go of everything you thought you knew.”
With the stroke of a pen, Roseberry had revived the soul of the most soulful house. What came next was a collection for the history books. Since then, he has carved a sizable following with collections that are brimming with mind-bending silhouettes, artful accessories, and out-of-this-world embellishments. His Spring 2021 Couture collection is another knockout, offering hardened corsets with bodybuilder abs built into the surface, which were softened by enormous bows wound around the waist. There were strong-shouldered gowns featuring scalloped cutouts over the chest which were decorated with golden molars that leaked a stream of encrusted pearls. There were sunray sunglasses embedded with golden eyes that were as impractical as they were stunning, and gleaming taffeta silk gowns that were held up through hoop earrings. This is fashion that lets us dream again, and for that, we owe Roseberry an eternal debt of gratitude.