By: Rebecca Lowthorpe Follow @Rebecca_ELLE
1. Pucci 2. Jil Sander 3. Bottega Veneta
Thoughts that run through your mind when watching a Pucci show: Who is this woman? I dont know any women like this. Do you think she has a job? She must be rich. She likes to party. She must have a good body. And long hair. She probably wears Cavalli and Versace too. I like those boots. Could I get away with those boots? What about that deep red velvet 1970s tuxedo?
Peter Dundas is brilliant at making you think that his customer might be you even if youre the worlds staunchest minimalist. Theres no denying his clothes are molto sexy and its hard not to imagine how they might make you feel, had you the body, hair and money to buy them. He might have drawn on influences such as Native Americans and Inuit people massive fur hoods, chunky knitwear in bold patterns - but the result is always the same: sexy, close-to-the-body, rich, fun, young, adrenaline-boosting clothes. Hes also a dab hand at using archive Pucci prints the stuff the house is founded on - and melding it to his theme: a kind of 70s sexy savage. (Which is what he looks like, by the way). Thoughts that hit you on leaving the Pucci show: He knows his customer. Even if we dont.
Left to right: Pucci, Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta
If you were ever a fan of Jil Sander when she was helming the label she founded - as opposed to when Raf Simons or Milan Vukmirovic, the designers who took the creative reigns during her first two dramatic departures from the house then you will most likely love this new collection. Designed by her studio team (she left for the third and final time last October), this was a collection that paid homage to its founder by restating the fundamental codes of the Jil Sander label, and as the show notes added, with warmth and tenderness. Despite her comings and goings, there has always been huge affection for Jil Sander not just within the industry but from the legions of women who still wear her so when nobody appeared at the foot of the catwalk to take a bow, it was a poignant moment. More than that, there was sincere applause for her team. They opened with a pale chalky coloured coat, cut close to the body with a stand-up collar and worn with solid flat platforms in pale pink snakeskin. The shoes were integral to the plot as a whole, in vibrant yellow, green or blue; they quite literally elevated Sanders signature tailoring, textured cashmere knitwear and austere dresses bisected with seams and cut in soft colours the designer herself may have never used. The most important take-away from this collection was that it was Jil Sanders minimalist codes seen through the eyes of a younger generation a bit freer, more youthful, softer certainly, it almost recalled elements of Raf Simons Sander. And it proved that whoever the designer is who is chosen to take the label forward (an announcement will be made soon, said the Sander press office), there is more than enough rich material to play with. Long may the label live on.
Bottega Veneta is the kind of show that wants you to appreciate a simple sweater. Its creative director, Thomas Maier, encourages you to lust over the smallest detail, like a beige-pink coats nappa leather lining or the way frayed pieces of silk have been stitched together to form a dress that skims the body and looks easy to wear.
Maier attacks his designs like a forensic artist but as complex as they may be, they never look difficult to wear because at the forefront of his mind is the woman who will wear them her comfort and pleasure in buying his clothes is what drives him. This season he took to cutting dresses, skirts and coats with panels of contrasting colour: misty greys and nudes were sliced with dark red, chartreuse, purple and emerald green. It wasnt as pretty as in previous seasons; he was on a more graphic track, such as the dress in swirling black and beige stripes, its optical effect increased with pleated fabric. But any of these clothes would be a wise investment because they are so contemporary without hitching themselves to a seasonal trend.