Reissues were the biggest trend of spring 2021
A nation of hypebeasts turned their eyes to Milan for Prada’s Spring 2021 show, which featured Raf Simons’ very lively debut as the brand’s co-creative director, drawing in a whole new audience. But longtime Prada-philes quickly spotted two archival prints from the Spring and Fall 1996 collections – reworked with screen-printed text courtesy of artist and frequent Simons collaborator Peter De Potter. This was just one of many fashion déjà vu instances this season. Versace has given a new twist to the Trésor de la Mer aquatic prints in its Spring 1992 collection; Gucci reissued the looks from Creative Director Alessandro Michele’s first collection in 2015; and Coach have reintroduced pieces from past seasons, including fall 2020. Certainly, designers moving through archives are not a new phenomenon. But usually they look at the biggest hits of the 50s, 60s or 70s. The wave of more and more recent reissues seems to tap into the quality of increasingly seasonless fashion, time is a flat circle, amid pandemic uncertainty. The distinctions between the fashion seasons melted like Dalí clocks, the need for novelty replaced with a desire for the familiar.
It also speaks to the way we dress now: looting our personal “records” to reexamine what we already have with new eyes. Rather than the post-2008 recession hobby of ‘closet shopping’ (can you imagine anything more boring?), We’re taking stock of our wardrobes and remixing them with everything new, vintage, recycled and on consignment. Is it any wonder that designers are following suit?
For Miuccia Prada, the reboot of the 1996 motif came from the concept of dressing reducing decision fatigue. With this collection, “we wanted to create something that was meaningful to people, something that was useful,” she says. “Everything we do must make people live better.” Adds Simons: “A uniform should express something more timeless than a seasonal fashion item. The idea of a uniform is a representation of longevity.
The idea behind the relaunch of Trésor de la Mer was “not just to select a print from the past and put it on today’s silhouettes”, explains Donatella Versace. “There are a few things this exercise allows us to do. The first is to reiterate that fashion can indeed be eternal – that an idea that was good in the past can be translated into something equal for generations today. But, she says, a revival like this must also reflect the current moment and the evolution of the brand – to make it feel as fresh on, say, Precious Lee for Spring 2021 as it does on Linda Evangelista. in 1991.
At Gucci, Michele asked, in her show notes, what happens “when fashion leaves its comfort zone.” One response seemed to be to breathe new life into existing clothing, imagining “what happens to them when the runway lights go out.” Thus, pieces he created six years ago, such as a floral-print dress and a faux fur coat, were once again in the spotlight. Likewise, during the lockdown, Coach’s Creative Director Stuart Vevers found himself reflecting on his tenure with the brand amid the intimidating new reality of fashion. “As I thought about what to explore in this new world,” he says, “I looked back to look to the future,” reissued, among other things, a trench coat adorned with Basquiat designs from Fall 2020 and a Spring 2018 dress from Coach. collaboration with the estate of Keith Haring.
While designer self-examination has partly fueled the retrospective-is-20/20 phenomenon, the resale boom (embraced by some fashion houses, with Gucci and Anna Sui recently in partnership with The RealReal and Depop, respectively) had the effect of making “so last season” a thing of the past. Vevers saw his collection as an antidote to the mandate that everything be new. “Maybe there is something about challenging the status quo, about challenging the rules that have been created in the fashion world,” he said to himself. “If there was a time to do that, it was like this.”
“If you want to stay relevant and be part of the cultural conversation, you can’t just go back to the archives,” Versace emphasizes. “Archives can be the starting point, but then everything has to be looked at with today’s eyes. The questions I always ask myself and my design team are, “Is this new?” Is it modern? Is this what people need now? Fashion is for me a way to make people dream and escape reality, but I have to make sure that what I create has its place in the world.
This article appears in the April 2021 issue of ELLE.
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