Saturday, January 15, 2011

No.21 pre-fall2011

Some of you may be wondering what is No.21. I was wondering the same thing when I stumbled upon it at It appears that Alessandro Dell'Aqua has started a new collection named for his birth date as he's no longer in possession of his name. That old curse is still in evidence with bright young talents that go too fast, too soon and make unholy marriages with fortune hunting swains. It sounds like a plot twist in Downton Abbey but is unfortunately real life, not to be confused with reality life. This new collection is a fresh start with a few surprises that make it something unlike so much that we see. His silhouette is more structured than liquid with the employment of fabrics such as nylon faille, loden, wool and brocade. Though he worked with more languid shapes in the past this collection is all about shapes that stand away from the body, a silhouette he refers to as "bourgeois". I'm confused by that when you see parallels to people like Givenchy, Balenciaga (the real one as opposed to the reality version) and Saint Laurent whose aesthetic never appeared bourgeois. Sometimes I wish designers would just do the work and stop the talk, but I get ahead of myself.

This collection is really very beautiful with so many parts that make up the whole. The pieces which are mostly in a sportswear vernacular are filled with outerwear, sweaters, trousers and skirts. What there is of dresses and evening dresses is so spare and essential that it looks like the definition of a perfectly balanced collection, one that spreads the wealth evenly. I noticed the elbow length gloves in a neutral shade that matched the neutral shoe first. They are emphatic and subtle in the same breath. Neither skin tight or overtly sexy in height, just the perfect accessory to move the dialogue forward. Look and see what you think. The loden parka in faille with the sack dress affect is dreamy as is the look with the almost stiff short sleeved grey sweater and full abbreviated faille skirt in a shade of dusted pink. As shy as this woman appears she has a back bone as solid as a steel rod. A steely self assurance that, for me, is mesmerising.

The dresses and cocktails seem to bring back a shape that has always excited me; the chemise, all ellipse and suggestion. Whether he cuts it in silk crepe or faille, it just dances around the body as though it's all some amusing game, and it is or at least it should be. I was reminded that these clothes could be the development of an Oscar de la Renta or an Ungaro if those collections were less self conscious or confused, as is the case with Ungaro.

A fantastic black crepe cocktail with inserts of tulle and a skirt embellished with a controlled explosion of froth looked like an homage to the master, Ralph Rucci. Its time that someone referenced one of our greatest living couturier's assuming one has the chops and the balls.... With the one lone gown in the collection I was startled to remember one of the greatest creators who rarely is mentioned, referenced or remembered and that's Mainbocher. This gown almost screams Wallis, Duchess of Windsor, that grasping, unscrupulous, insatiable adventuress.

What brilliant timing. So, as you can see this collection and Mr. Dell'Aqua looks like a star that's back on the rise. The game gets interesting just when you thought fashion was stiff, cold and starting to smell.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I have always been a fan of his work and even more so now.

Fluff, I would really love to read an op-ed on what you think about a designer selling his/her name. For an up and coming design talent what would be the best route? I believe Abboud wrote about this extensively in his auto-biography and I will never forget that line from Tina Tuner in the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It." We've seen so many people fall to this (Herve Leger :( ) and actually, several designers who have happily been bought out, retiring to a beach house or some dream location.