Salvatore Ferragamo goes sci-fi for AW21
Inspired by ‘Gattaca’ and ‘The Matrix’, the Italian fashion house’s AW21 sought to reflect on the present through the prism of the future.
Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo
“In fashion, the past exerts a gravity,” says Salvatore Ferragamo’s creative director, Paul Andrew. “For this season I wanted to invert that physics. The objective was to engineer a collection that sees the present through a prism of the future.” In other words, looking forward in order to reflect on the present. What would future generations discover if they went vintage-shopping for 2021? Paul’s co-ed AW21 collection for the Italian house collection was an ode to sci-fi, inspired by cinematic classics such as Gattaca, Until The End Of The World, and The Matrix. He riffed on four categories of 21st century uniforms —business, military, evening and sporting – and reimagined them as “fossilised remnants of a long-forgotten past”. But whereas most sartorial nods to that cinematic genre are steeped in nostalgia for ‘60s Space-Age shapes and gimmicky moon-landing garb, this was a more nuanced exploration. Not so much retro-futurism, but future-retroism.
What does that look like, according to Ferragamo? To start, it’s colourful — almost as colourful as those famous rainbow-striped platforms Salvatore made for Judy Garland in the ‘30s. Lime leather coats, zingy orange high-waisted trousers, parrot-green and lilac mohair knits and plenty of pink — millennial pink, perhaps, discovered years from now as a strange relic of the early 2010s. Supple nappa leather coats were also a key element, as well as wide-leg trousers, side-slit dresses and sleek, clean-lined silhouettes that don’t betray a point in time. Most of the pieces devoid of any superfluous embellishment, bar a handful of pieces with swirls of white fringing. To set the tone, Paul worked on a video presentation (last season, he collaborated with Luca Guadagnino on a Hitchcockian movie) which was shot as a CGI-aided virtual reality, replete with a futuristic cityscape, white-lit tunnels that models — some of whom were painted silver for the final metallic-leather and chainmail looks — emerged down before circling a revolving glass pyramid.
But perhaps the most futuristic element of the collection was the environmentally-conscious materials. Of course, Ferragamo is one of Italy’s most cherished heritage houses, starting life as a luxury footwear brand with leather craftsmanship at its heart. However, Paul was looking forward to a time when fashion will have adapted to methods of production that aren’t so harmful to the planet. There was a polyester dress made from recycled plastics, soles of shoes made responsibly-sourced wood, recycled rubber and plant-based tans on leather. Threads used for footwear were recycled, and wool and cashmere was upcycled from offcuts, avoiding virgin material production. A slew of Blade Runner-esque ponchos were made from transparent biodegradable PVC. Here was a prescient message about the future: if fashion doesn’t start rethinking its environmental impact, perhaps there won’t be one to look back from.