Glass looks back at the best moments of AW21

IF YOU, like me, have read intro-upon-intro and multiple iterations of how the pandemic has taken its toll on the traditional fashion schedule as we all once knew it, then you will have become well accustomed to the overwhelming feeling of unfamiliarity, of change, of a static energy.

Personally, I can’t deny the element of comfort that I have found in this new era of design. The extra time that has been afforded as a consequence of the shift to digital format, the additional focus on delivering a collection that translates to audiences from their screens, and the further consideration of brand identity and commitment to a new conversation about fashion is evident and highly applaudable.

From the likes of Fashion East playing the digital format to their favour to offer a wider line-up, to Miu Miu’s gravity defying show set above the mountains in the Dolomites Alps and Ottolinger’s collection for a drastically changed world – we witnessed innovation in unprecedented form this season.

With physical presentation limited, invite-only exclusivity was slashed and replaced with a global performance on an unseen before scale. The AW21 collections will go down in fashion history as the most widely accessible, streamed and consumed of all.

Ultimately, when acknowledging the past year’s relationship to fashion let us not forget the magic of creative minds that have ignited under the pressure to produce some of their most ground-breaking work. To encourage such celebration, Glass looks back at the best moments of the AW21 collections.


Louis Vuitton’s tribute to Fornasetti

Best moments of AW21 LVLouis Vuitton AW21

As one of the most prolific figures of the 20th century, the Italian artist Piero Fornasetti captivated the world with his relentless flair for engraving, printing and graphics. “His imaginative strokes explore, illustrate and impart style,” says Louis Vuitton of Fornasetti’s legacy.

Renowned for his fusion of era references, Nicolas Ghesquière cultivated an aesthetic with the Fornasetti atelier that transcends time.

Decorating the panels of dresses, tracing the shoulders of dresses and even featured as an all over print, the illustrations are ideal for the digital format, jumping through the computer screen to maintain your attention.

Molly Goddard and the new preorder service

Best moments of AW21 Molly GoddardMolly Goddard AW21

Set against the bleak Covid-19 landscape whereby retailers are struggling for survival, the reliance on the traditional model of selling through multi-brand retailers has begun to be questioned. Molly Goddard, in a business move that many others are also considering, chose to offer a preorder service for her glorious AW21 collection.

Holding the simultaneous capacity to understand the customer better as well as eliminate overproduction, it seems a no-brainer. If pink herringbone tweed, Fair Isle knits, frilled tailoring and tulle party dresses adorned with taffeta bows are your must haves for you autumn wardrobe, then get ordering now – ahead of the retail rush.

Coperni’s runway lit up by 35 cars

Best moments of AW21, CoperniCoperni AW21

As the world’s first ever drive in runway, Coperni’s AW21 collection shattered the metaphorical glass ceiling that the last year has trapped many designers under to deliver a record defying masterpiece. Offering an exploration into the complexity and the mystery of nighttime, the cars were an apt reflection of modern city life and the inability to switch off.

An exclusive guest list of 70 people in 35 electric cars were situated in formation, their headlights gleaming across the runway to illuminate the wondrous creations.

Yet, hidden within the night-time of celebration is an intrinsic desire for the nighttime of sleep, of submitting to our dreams, of letting our bodies rest – the juxtaposing message transforms into a new meaning for these strange times depending on which way you look at it.

Fashion East’s increased number of designers

Best moments of AW21, fashion eastFashion East AW21, left to right: HRH, Jawara Alleyne, GOOM, Nensi Dojaka and Maximilian Davis

Designers Nensi DojakaGOOM and Maximilian Davis were joined by newcomers Jawara Alleyne, and accessories label, HRH for the AW21 Fashion East showcase. The shift to digital, although an added pressure, became a bonus for Lulu Kennedy who spun the situation into a positive opportunity to feature a wider designer line-up. With logistical elements of a catwalk show set to one side, a premier of still and moving image was ushered in and with that, a diverse energy and optimism blossomed.

Goom brought us romance through off-kilter sportswear with a sprinkle of wearable tailoring, Nensi Dojaka offered both empowering and seductive silhouettes to explore the notions of strength and vulnerability, and Maximilian Davis wowed yet again with logo slashed graphics, 60s futurist style and a compelling narrative.

Newcomers Jawara Allyene and HRH introduced challenges to masculinity with skin baring cuts and fabric manipulation, and girly accessories inspired by the physical excellence of gymnastics, respectively.

Chanel’s reference to the fake fur in the AW94 collection

Best moments of AW21, ChanelChanel AW21

Infused with a nod to Karl Lagerfeld and references to past collections, Virginie Viard’s AW21 Chanel collection reimagined celebrated classics with a refined and modern eye. One of these points of inspiration was the fake fur that adorned much of the AW94 collection, heralded at the time for its snow bunny makeover.

For AW21, this translated in conspicuously fake-fur suits and coats, and AW94 pieces recreated in black, white, and hot pink shearling. The shaggy moon boots are a recurring trend for the AW21 season so, naturally, Chanel have created their own with the additional selling point of being double layered to allow the voluminous shearling to be removed to reveal a sleeker boot beneath.

Blumarine’s Y2K tribute 

Best moments of AW21, blu marineBlumarine AW21

“I wanted to reference fashion in the early 2000s, seen through today’s lens. A fashion which was strong on glamour, showbiz, pop music. A moment in time I’ve experienced in my youth, which I’m fond of remembering and rebooting with a modern sensibility,” said Nicola Brognano, the Creative Director of Blumarine, about his AW21 collection.

Adopting an era that has for so long been shunned as tacky, cheap and unsophisticated in higher fashion realms and building it into a luxury masterpiece is a feat not for the faint hearted, but Blumarine seem to have perfected the combination of young, sexy and provocative in a considered yet unashamedly fun manner.

With fur-trim cropped jackets, lace camis, ruffled chiffon and butterfly galore featured throughout, Brognano ensures the taste of the early noughties is strong. It makes sense that the stylist for the show was the idiosyncratic Lotta Volkova who has helped direct the narrative of brands such as Vetements, Balenciaga and Miu Miu. More sparkle, frills and pointy boots please.

Fidan Novruzova’s debut collection

Best moments of AW21 Fidan NovruzovaFidan Novruzova AW21

Already accredited to creating the ultimate chunky knee-high boot, Fidan Novruzova often gets mistaken for being a shoe brand. Her momentous debut collection serves to correct that. As a CSM graduate and winner of the L’oréal Professionnel Young Talent Award, Novruzova has quickly become a name many fashion insiders are shouting about.

Her unique vision and self-acclaimed “retro-futuristic post-Soviet aesthetic”, combined with the celebration of her Azerbaijani upbringing in Moldova, defines Novruzova as one to watch for future seasons. The sense of domesticity and legacy sees skirts made out of kitchen tablecloths found in charity shops, footwear designed specifically to be handed down generation to generation, and items adorned with crocheted gardens filled with grapes and pomegranates, the traditional symbols of Moldova and Azerbaijan, respectively.

With each stitch, exaggerated curve and crease, a history and culture are upheld, taught and understood.

The ever-blossoming partnership of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons at Prada

Best moments of AW21 PradaPrada AW21

From the delicate balance of Raf Simons’ graphic print to the understated simplicity that is core to Miuccia Prada’s focus, and the simultaneous shine of each designers style signatures – the hand clasp coat wearing for Miuccia Prada and the nylon bomber jacket for Raf Simons – the world has enjoyed the harmony of Prada’s new vision. A new vision that is developing at such a speed and strength that many are wondering why it wasn’t considered before.

For AW21, the creative duo offered us a post-lockdown wardrobe, an intermediate point between the sparkles of night time glamour and the comfort of loose-fitting trousers and cosy knits. The result was a culmination of textures, a plethora of ugly-chic colour combos, and an exquisite display of layering to the finest degree.

We are already looking forward to our next fill.

Ottolinger – the collection for a drastically changed world

Ottolinger AW21

In an ode to nature, designers Cosima Gadient and Christa Bösch adopted their AW21 collection to anlayse nature’s independent spirit, its need to evolve, to grow and to persevere no matter the circumstance. An apt reflection of the current times and an important message of hope for those watching.The show must go on.

Set against a rocky backdrop with words such as “forever known as somewhere, forever known as nowhere” by poet Rhea Dillon building the soundtrack, the clothes felt torn between realism and a dream-like state. Merging organic form with a pioneering vision, Ottolinger looked at how clothes transform over time.

Snake-like features loop around tops, waists and shoes, causing clothes to resemble a root growing from the earth. In juxtaposition, artist Cheyenne Julien’s prints, which are found on a multitude of pieces, showcase unusual features and figurative strokes, elements that twist the natural.

All symbolism aside, the clothes are utterly more-ish and the protective outerwear – the deep green sheepskin coat in particular – is ultimate fashion bait.

Alexandra Sipa’s handmade electrical wire-lace technique

Best moments of AW21, Alexandra SipaAlexandra Sipa AW21

“Sustainability is simply about having compassion for oneself, others, both within and outside of one’s community, and for future generations” says Sipa of her AW21 collection. Repurposing waste in a beautiful and meaningful form is a core ethos to the London-based brand that was founded this year.

One of the most shining examples of their commitment is their rescue of discarded electrical wires, which they use to form intricate woven dresses with voluminous structure, colourful shorts with an incredible mosaic like finish and accessories that resemble delicate flowers – far from the toughness of their material form.

In doing so, the brand attempts to address and bring awareness to the issue of electronic waste, one of the fastest growing sources of waste reaching 50 million tonnes in 2020.

It is for this very reason that Alexandra Sipa is one of my favourite breakthrough brands, not only for their beautifully crafted designs but also for their purpose driven message.

The shoes of Ancuta Sarca 

Best moments of AW21 AncutaAncuta Sarca AW21

As a fanatic of the infamous kitten heel, as soon as I became aware of the designs of the incredible Ancuta Sarca, I was besotted by them. Romanian born, London based designer Sarca secured a coveted spot among the Fashion East fold back in 2019 – making her debut as the first ever accessories-dedicated designer at LFW’s SS20 season.

Entirely sustainable in practice, Sarca uses second-hand Nike trainers from charity shops to build an entirely new, feminised version with a Y2K twist. For AW21, Sarca solidified her crowning position as the ultimate upcycling shoe queen.

From glitter tinsel Mary Janes to purple velvet boots with silver buckle and the introduction of her first bag, the Feeling Blue Bow Bag, Sarca is one of the most innovative minds of our generation.

16Arlington’s ostrich feathers

Best moments of AW21, 16 Arlington16Arlington AW21

‘Ostrich feather’ is one of my most frequented Ebay searches so it comes as no surprise that 16Arlington’s has secured a place on this AW21 feature. A stylistic finish that is signature the brand, ostrich feathers have come to flutter through each collection, leading the motivation to marry the natural and the unnatural.

Tracing the lapels of jackets, the cuffs of coats and the collars of suits, the feathers appear to move like wings, offering a dramatic finish to otherwise restrained designs.

These feathers offer more than a pretty finish, they also usher in an important season of dressing up – something that I know many of us have been yearning for this past year.

The regenerated materials at Marine Serre

Best moments of AW21 Marine SerreMarine Serre AW21

As a figurehead of a progressive and sustainable new world, Marine Serre has been a protagonist in the push for a healthier fashion narrative since her label launched in 2017. Titled CORE, for AW21, Marine Serre put her ‘eco-futurist’ show theatrics to one side and put forward a collection that stayed true to her brands ethos – environmental consciousness, resilience, and accessibility.

This translated in the form of crescent-moon lycra pieces, oil-slick moiré finished jackets and trousers, and recycled wool jacquard patchwork dresses hybridized with jersey in all over moon print. Serre’s studio, filled with old carpets, jeans and silk foulards, was used to build 50% of the 69 look collection, consolidating the other half using recycled fibres.

“This last year has been difficult for everyone, but there is no longer any question about it, things must be done differently. We want to bring Ecofuturism to the streets,” says Marine Serre.

Richard Malone and his ardent celebration of women

Richard Malone AW21

Woven into each seam of Richard Malone’s AW21 collection was a meticulously considered and respectful nod to women. From those behind the regenerated textiles, recycled woven wools, plant-based dyed cloth and handmade knits, to the multi-award-winning film director and photographer Isabel Garrett, who captured the collection, Malone notes the importance of a female team.

Intertwining subtle celebrations of his working class heritage as well, Malone offered a uniform of sorts with tailored trousers featuring detachable pannier-hip aprons, a rigorously belted dove-grey woolen coat referencing medical uniforms and crisp white shirts featuring as a first for the designer.

Taking inspiration from two literary works, 32 Words For Field by Manchán Magan, and A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Malone explored the meaning of language and how patriarchal society has influenced our relationship with our words.

In doing so, Malone hopes his AW21 collection will encourage a new way of conversing and a consequential commitment to a shared value system, a conscious change, and the belief that being oneself is the ultimate act of defiance.

Miu Miu making history with show in the snow

Best moments of AW21, MiuMiuMiu Miu AW21

Making fashion history with a 150m runway 9,000ft above sea level, amongst the snow-capped Dolomites of Italian ski-resort town, Cortina, Miu Miu’s AW21 collection offered magical escapism like no other for the AW21 season. The gleaming snow offered a blank canvas in which signature sparkling embellishments, yeti boots, and quilted utilitarian wet look fits were able to truly shine.

Miuccia Prada provided us with a glorious presentation of clothes of the highest quality and protection, mastering the modern mountaineering style in the process. Exceeding all of our expectations, Miu Miu’s AW21 collection was a breath of fresh air, a “dream of practicality” – as Miuccia Prada noted, and a show that we expect will be continuously referenced for years to come.

by Lily Rimmer