The greatest frustration with human language is that words alone are not enough to convey one’s feelings or to describe one’s world. Furthermore, the main gift a fashion writer must possess is the gift of description, but language can fail even the most talented writer. Encountering Antonio Berardi’s Spring/Summer 2016 collection at London Fashion Week was something of a surprise. His work has always been beautiful, feminine, and pristinely tailored, but this show saw the designer changing direction toward an elevated aesthetic that was more fluid and more gorgeous than anything he’d ever done before. To say it was “gorgeous” is a mark of language limitation, as there are no words to describe the fluttering and spellbinding way his billowing looks moved down the runway.
Berardi’s intent was to fuse formalism and informalism together in a new way, hence the diaphanous, but wearable, nature of his collection. The show opener highlighted this method, as a three-piece look complete with a metallic, floral-printed, high-necked top, jacket, and mullet-hemmed skirt took the stage. Yet, as high fashion as this look was, Berardi assured that it was low-maintenance enough to be rolled up and put in a suitcase. The same ease can be applied to jumpsuits that were fitted with fringe along the side of the leg, shift dresses with floating trains, and long vests. Meanwhile, gilded embellishment traced fine patterns onto Berardi’s elegant gowns and brought an upscale feel to simpler pieces like sleeveless tops and shifts. One especially beautiful sky-blue silk gown showed a pragmatic side to formalism, with crystal straps attached to a matching topper that slipped off the shoulders, allowing the fabric and embroidered sleeves to spill generously over the model’s arms. Toward the end, looks moved away from fairytale finery, as a series of serious black dresses and white suits came down the runway, sprinkled with a tiny amount of glittering paillettes. The monochrome finale added a sense of seriousness to the effervescent show and offered up yet another formal/informal interpretation that proved the breadth of Berardi’s skill.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree