In a funhouse maze, Kim Jones’s feverishly anticipated ready-to-wear debut collection for Fendi Fall/Winter 2021 arrived, bouncing off a kaleidoscope of reflective surfaces as it bobbed down a zig-zagging catwalk. For all of its swaggering elegance and fur-drenched savoir-faire, it tapped into something primal, a deep and urgent desire to change after undergoing something horrible. When destabilizing trauma occurs, humans have a curious reaction. We seek to shed the things we associate with the trauma. If our ex-boyfriend complimented our long hair, after a break-up, we might shear them straight off. If the house where our beloved family member was sick or passed away contains memories too depressing to bear, we will pack up and move. It’s kind of a “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction” principle applied to emotional intelligence.
After a year – really, as of this week, a full and entire year – of pervasive sickness and sadness and instability, it was time for a change. Yet, as adaptive creatures, we had quickly become accustomed to the “new normal”, and some of the perks that came alongside being forced to stay indoors. Have you taken a hard look at your peri-pandemic attire? Chances are, it’s looser, stretchier, and a lot more comfortable than what you used to wear. So, what did Jones do? He blended a change, or redirection, with comfort. The formula worked.
The long, louche lines we first saw from him at Spring 20201 Couture were back, this time skimming along silk camisole dresses, shaved mink outerwear, haphazardly buttoned pajama tops, calf-length pencil skirts, and loose silk trousers. It looked sleek, but remarkably comfortable, something like the sartorial equivalent of curling up in front of a cozy fire as it rains cats and dogs outside. Even if you’re heading back to the office, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort.
Yet, the collection also had unusual little touches of bare skin. This is the change we speak of, a charge towards elevating comfortability with sexiness, with liveliness, with joie de vivre. Plenty of those long-line looks were paired with micro crop tops, tiny knit bustiers, and thigh-high slits. Movement was also a big message. After so much stasis and couch-locked evenings in front of Bridgerton, these were clothes for women whose lives were in full swing. Luscious outerwear was trimmed in lashes of fringe, while gleaming silk sashes wound around the neck and flipped and flopped as the models lunged their legs forward in motion. Bags this time were outsized and worn tucked under the arm, ready to be stuffed to the brim, optimistically signaling our lives filling back up with things to do, places to go, people to see.
Can sexiness and comfort co-exist? At Fendi, they can.