Friday, July 1, 2016

Antonio Berardi // Fall 2016 //

In the editor’s letter in the most recent Tank magazine (with the wonderful Rebecca Hall, dressed sublimely in Demna’s Balenciaga), Masoud Golsorkhi pays homage to the late Prince, who passed away in April. He shares a memory of the singer. It’s the 1990s, at London Fashion Week. Antonio Berardi’s Tuesday night show at the Roundhouse. Prince waited for an hour in his limo before entering the show space. After commotion ignited over his presence, flanked by hulking bodyguards, Prince left before the show had the chance to start. The purpose of the letter was to highlight the mystical figure he was. It got me thinking about Prince, obviously and the tremendous effect he’s had on fashion. See: Donatella Versace’s menswear show which premiered an unheard Prince song; the other designers that he inspired, and will continue to influence. 

I also thought about Antonio Berardi, the fanfare surrounding his 1997 show; it’s almost 20 years ago and his effect on London fashion hasn’t been as profound. He’s one of the most consistent designers in London, and has maintained the 9am spot on the Monday for years. As years have gone by, perhaps the fashion pack became bored, or a little tired of his work. Although I haven’t posted about him on this blog, I’ve always been a fan, but was able to see the tiredness and lack of excitement where his work was concerned. For Fall 2016, his collection could be described as a sharp return to form. 

The 1980s were the chief inspiration for the collection. From Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing in the Dark remix on soundtrack to the Janet Jackson Rhythm Nation iconography, Berardi was thinking about toughness. Buckles, belts, grommets accented most looks—a militaristic flair pervading the entire collection. There was a great deal of black, the classic depiction of toughness: the colour that signifies it, in fact. But it wouldn’t be an Antonio Berardi if there wasn’t, at least, a whiff of femininity. When researching for the collection, Berardi founded femininity in tough things. That’s why in this collection you see evening gowns, flaming red dresses in floaty chiffon and decorative lace. Pure whites was a soigné counterpoint to the black, but with chokers, dark makeup, the looks were given an edge. 

Why this collection was the strongest from Berardi was simple: it had conviction. In the past, Berardi has toyed with “distressed glamour”, architectural and art world influences—that didn’t always work. This modern retelling of 80s cocktail fashion is not only a searing portrayal, but it’s forward-thinking. One of London’s great purveyors of the cocktail dress, Berardi, along with Roksanda and Erdem, are London’s biggest businesses. Where Berardi is concerned, the press coverage and buyer appreciation is unbalanced. Buying is much higher than the press. But with an emboldened effort, that could begin to change.  

“She is strong, she is confident, she is severe: she is making herself heard.” This season, Antonio Berardi felt stronger, confident, severe: he’s making himself heard again.

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