Fashion has always been a potent mood elixir and the pandemic made us relive the joy of putting on a kicky pair of boots or off-kilter earrings. 2020 also inspired us to revisit our wardrobes multiple times and rediscover the magic of trying on an old pair of jeans which we picked up during our travels, but never wore or an heirloom piece, which awaited our attention forever. Besides, binge-watching The Crown made us fall in love with Lady Diana’s pie crust collars and pussy bow blouses and Harry Style’s colour blocked knitted cardigan by JW Anderson sparked off a chain of its DIY variants. While most international design houses showcased digital films, others were quick to go back to the physical show format. The recently showcased Chanel’s Métiers d’art show at Château de Chenonceau (with Kristen Stewart being the only audience present) and Saint Laurent’s Spring Summer 21 desert safari at an undisclosed location come to mind instantly. Back home, Falguni Shane Peacock’s fashion film titled Spectacle Privé showcased at India Couture Week captured all the backstage drama with India’s leading stylists lending their expertise and Gaurav Gupta shook us out of our pandemic reverie with his heady mix of casting – ranging from a transgender supermodel to a lesbian couple to a non-binary model. Here are 10 top picks from this year’s fashion calendar.
Gucci’s game-changing miniseries
Who remembers a runway show which gets over in six minutes? Trust Alessandro Michele to seduce style savants with a miniseries showcasing its latest offerings over an entire week. The label’s seven-part miniseries by Gus Van Sant titled Overture of Something That Never Ended starred Silvia Calderoni with cameos from Harry Styles (looking delectable in a pair of jorts), Billie Eilish, among others, recontextualised how fashion films are showcased and perceived. Staying true to Michele’s artistic and cinematic approach to storytelling, the brand’s collaboration with several artists lent gravitas to the ensembles which sparkled in mood lighting. Gucci’s alchemical mixology never gets dated and this cinematic experimentation proved that.
Falguni Shane Peacock’s Spectacle Privé
The designer duo offered the much-needed retina rush with their zany take on bridal couture. Their fashion film titled Spectacle Privé showcased at India Couture Week organised by Fashion Design Council of India in partnership with Hindustan Times conveyed that sentiment with aplomb. It’s hard to picture an FSP show minus the effusive feathers and glistening surface texturing and this fashion film put the spotlight on behind-the-scenes goings-on as Peacocks along with the help of some acclaimed red carpet stylists put together a show. The film captured all the backstage drama – from someone adding makeup touches to a model to another stylist fitting a sexy choli to someone adjusting the train of a sweeping gown. Their styling army comprising Shaleena Nathani, Aastha Sharma, Mohit Rai and Tanya Ghavri among others – all dressed to thrill, played out their parts as taste makers, as actor Shraddha Kapoor, looking imperiously chic flirted with the camera in a red, raw silk lehenga with fuschia pink and emerald green thread work details.
Chanel Métiers d’art – reignites Renaissance romance
Over the last couple of seasons, Chanel’s creative director Virginie Viard has rather successfully delved into Gabrielle’s past – from recreating the humble garden of the Abbey of Aubazine for the label’s Spring Summer 2020 couture outing to taking us to the Château de Chenonceau earlier this month, which was designed and lived in by women, including Diane de Poitiers and Catherine de’ Medici. Superimpose Virginie’s curiosity about Chanel’s fabled past with the savoir-faire of les petites mains and you’ve got the blueprint of the larger-than-life métiers d’art show. Grand, beguiling and escapist and one wouldn’t expect anything less than that from the house of Chanel.
Saint Laurent’s chic safari
For the label’s Spring 21 outing (aptly titled, I Wish You Were Here), the mood of the digital film by director Nathalie Canguilhem (a long time house collaborator) was sandy, sensual and subversive with models cutting a fine silhouette in metallic toe slingback heels against a sea of beige sand. The choice of pristine sandy undulating dunes kissed with the YSL logo could have easily been an homage to Monsieur Saint Laurent’s native Algeria where he was born. With strong nods to Yves’ game-changing La Saharienne or the safari jacket to the kitschy moodboard of Valley of the Dolls (1967) to the hothouse bloom reference reminiscent of The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972) to the Vidal Sassoon five-point cut, the collection was a cross-medley of cinematic ideas and the label’s hallowed archival influences. The show ended with flickering fire lighting up the dark desert landscape and letting the pieces do all the talking.
Harry Styles sweater sparks a DIY Trend
One’s likely to remember 2020 as the year of tracksuits, pyjama sets and lounge dressing. Covid took a major toll on our collective style sensibility and also in a way dented our sartorial finesse. However, there were moments when people ditched their trackpants for a daring outfit and replaced trainers with a pair of kicky heels. For a lot of us, our liberated and individualistic style was an antidote to our sagging spirits. No wonder Google’s yearly data proves that people are dressing radically with an unconventional elan. The Internet hysteria over the JW Anderson patchwork knit cardigan worn by Harry Styles being a case in point. The other trending styles this year include “alt style,” “e-girl style,” and “y2k style,” One also saw a craze about the skater girl chic and ‘80s style clothing.
Gaga’s maximalist triumph at the VMAs
2020 has been all about social distancing couture. With the world at large embracing Covid norms, Autumn Winter 20’s ultra voluminous numbers couldn’t have been up for grabs at a better time. From Fendi and Simone Rocha to Comme des Garçons and JW Anderson to Falguni Shane Peacock and Amit Aggarwal back home – AW 20 was all about scaling up the drama and owning every room you walk into with the sheer prowess of your supersized outfit. The likes of Richard Quinn, Alexander McQueen, Christopher John Rogers and Area too succumbed to the allure of scaled-up proportions and dramatic silhouettes. Lady Gaga’s outfits at this year’s MTV Video Music Awards will be remembered as the first social distancing couture. She opted for nine looks—each devised to facilitate ample personal space via couture spikes by Iris Van Herpen, an ultra-voluminous ensemble from Area, and a shine-on catsuit and a feathered cape by Valentino. Each look was finished off by a mask.
Inclusivity at Gaurav Gupta and Versace
The couturier known for his dramatic play of structure and fluidity served the jaded fashion palate with the much-needed dosage of celebratory oomph at the opening show of India Couture Week. Every look was meticulously sculpted across various body types highlighting and accentuating the curves of his body positive glamazon army. The slick cinematography added to the rebellious yet artsy allure of his androgynous ensembles. What stood out the most was the heady mix of casting – ranging from a transgender supermodel to a lesbian couple to a non-binary model. At Milan Fashion Week Donatella Versace cast the label’s first plus-size models in her spring 2021 show: Alva Claire, Precious Lee, and Jill Kortleve. Dressed in curve-flattering minis and diaphanous blouses, their looks challenged the industry’s outdated preconceptions of what “plus-size fashion” looks like.
The Crown rekindles our craze for Lady Di’s style
Thanks to the latest season of The Crown on Netflix, Princess Diana’s deeply symbolic black sheep jumper was relaunched by Rowing Blazers (now available only for pre-order only due to overwhelming demand). The audience fell in love with Emma Currin’s puffed-sleeve Emmanuel wedding dress, Fair Isle sweaters and cloying floral dresses.
Namrata Joshipura’s nod to sporty luxe
The designer redefined evening glamour and sporty luxe with tactile feathery touches, engineered fluid-mesh and micro pearl embellishments at Lotus Make-up India Fashion Week organised by FDCI. In this digital showcase, she added a new dimension to her outing with an opening feathered cape look offset with a pair of space-age reflector sunnies and white booties. The czarina of sheen also toyed with micro pearls – peppering them in a visually-arresting gradient format on a sporty twinset complete with her signature visor caps, on a languid pantsuit which came with asymmetrical lapels, a long line waistcoat and other soft denim pieces. However, what stood out the most was the unique mesh fabric she engineered. She extrapolated mesh as a base to link the dainty beads together and then removed the mesh which resulted in a fluid chainmail-like fabric encrusted with micro beads. When the light hit the fabric as her models sashayed up and down, it induced a heightened trompe l’oeil shine on effect.
Kangana’s rebel chic
2020 saw Kangana being at the centre of many controversies and her outfits convey her rebellious, devil-may-care spirit. The chiffon sari she wore with pearls when she went to meet the Maharashtra Governor brought to mind the late Rajmata Gayatri Devi’s iconic look. Otherwise too she’s looked chic in organic pieces from Pero while sending out scathing messages on her IGTV.