Nearing the end of Milan Fashion Week Men's for the autumn/winter 2020 season, Fendi and A-Cold-Wall presented their dissertations on the future of menswear. Read more for our take on their respective collections.
Going to a Fendi show is a tad like visiting Disneyland—it is guaranteed that you leave feeling a bit happier for it. Silvia Fendi's work has always been defined by fun, form and function. And under her watchful eye, she has masterfully created a well-oiled machine that churns out excellent collections after collections. And while it is something not common for a designer with a long list of accolades such as her, it seems like Silvia Fendi is getting even better.
This season, Silvia had her eye on the future state of menswear, as she set out "to work on the essentials of the classic wardrobe of a man of tomorrow". Her work began by updating the classic menswear pieces that are the foundation of the sartorial canon. The collection opened with a leather broken suit, highlighting the artisan heritage of the house, and worn with an evolution of the shirt—a hyper-functional version that featured a multi-pocket insert where you can keep cardholders, earphones, and even a cigar. The next series of looks came in the form of reversible outerwear where the panel detailing on them is both beautiful and functional.
From the aforementioned reversible outerwear, the collection also featured a series of coats and suit jackets that come with functional zips that allow you to remove sections as you please. Feel like transforming your suit jacket into a cropped version, or leaving it slightly undone so that it billows in the wind as you move around? Then this series has got you covered.
But the collection was not done yet with its metamorphosis. Fendi tapped on Kunihiko Morinaga of Anrealage and his signature photo-chromatic fabrication expertise, and incorporated them into the collection. The result was a series of four white looks that changed colours and revealed prints when exposed to UV light. When it comes to turning function into such an elevated art form, no one else comes close to Silvia Fendi.
While the ready-to-wear was strong in their expression of form and function, it was the accessories where Silvia had the most fun. She reinterpreted Fendi's iconic paper bags and box packaging and remade them in leather. While the leather shopping bags might be a tad derivative of the ones that Balenciaga made a couple of seasons ago, it still incited a good laugh. And it didn't hurt that they actually looked quite good. But what was fresh was the reimagining of the boxes that wrapped the products, into mini-trunk bags. The idea of incorporating trunks was also seen melding into classics of the house, such as the Peekaboo bag.
Fendi doesn't proclaim to be precognitive; notice how the collection is not defined by a singular vision of the future. If there is one underlying theme to Fendi's take on the future, is that it should not be one-dimensional, and if that is the case why should your wardrobe be?
While Fendi focused on the future of menswear, Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall set out to evolve his design language. In an interview, Ross said, "you know at the five-year mark, I’ve looked at A-Cold-Wall and defined it as a luxury menswear brand versus an artistic project. I’d say up until the five-year mark it’s been an artistic endeavour." We think that Ross is not giving himself enough credit. After all, the "artistic endeavour" phase of A-Cold-Wall has seen its pieces being stocked in some of the finest retail stores in the world, as well as successful collaborations from some of the biggest brands such as Nike, Oakley and Diesel.
If that was the infancy phase of A-Cold-Wall, it's a mighty impressive one. But Ross is not one to rest on his laurels. As the brand grows, so must the work and its intention. For the autumn/winter 2020 collection, Ross welcomes a new kind of man as the archetype of the collection: a working man at the heart of his community, and the type of clothing that he would be drawn too. The result was an exploration of classic menswear pieces through A-Cold-Wall's newfound lens. Gone are the deconstructed aesthetic, graphics and logos, and in its place, a more streamlined silhouette, fabrics and hardware.
But that's not to say that Ross has abandoned the ethos of his brand; he's realised that he doesn't have to shout it out to be heard. The collection ranged from beautifully tailored suits, peacoats, beautiful knitwear, and parkas. Key highlights would be the lovely pairing of a trim double-breasted jacket worn with slightly flared trousers, a boxy nylon short-sleeved shirt, embroidered gilets and a series of wonderful earth-toned printed parkas and trousers.
The paring down of the silhouette has in fact allowed him to use the materials to help tell a bigger story. Ross' mastery of the different fabrics such as foam-coated nylon and 3D-textured jersey, allowed him to create garments with different energies and drapes from their classic contemporaries. Take for example, the flare trousers that hold their shape better, without becoming too heavy.
The collection might not have the immediate hype of the previous collections, but the pieces are more engaging and less transient. In an interview with Esquire Singapore in 2018, Ross said, "it is incredibly difficult for independent designers to mature and reach a point of, not just interest but creative intelligence without having that initial interest to fuel growth. What we're calling hype I would call engagement. And that engagement is really essential to mature and fuel independent niche businesses."
Ross has always had a unique perspective and that is what separates him from the pack of other young designers. With A-Cold-Wall's autumn/winter 2020 collection, his perspective and vision for the future have finally caught up with his design. There is no better way to begin a new decade. Watch out for them.