Amiri AW21 is a love letter to Downtown LA
The Angeleno label took to the skyscrapers of the Californian metropolis to present a low-key luxe ode to the city’s underground nightlife.
Images courtesy of Amiri
Downtown districts hold a special place in the hearts of most city dwellers. They may not be where most of us live, but they are where -- before the panoramic, anyway, -- a fair few of us spend a good portion of our time; working by day, and playing by night. For LA native fashion designer Mike Amiri, it’s amid the city central cluster of skyscrapers and warehouse buildings, rather than on its blond, palm-lined beaches and mansion-studded hills, that you’ll get a real feel for what Los Angeles is all about. “There's this image of Los Angeles that the world has, and I alluded to bits of that in the last collection,” he says, referring to his ritzy SS21 film set at the Goldstein residence, one of the city’s most emblematic private homes, “but there's also another side to LA which is equally -- sometimes more -- important: the city’s Downtown scene.”
For AW21, Amiri has penned a love letter to DTLA -- the spiritual home of the city’s musicians and artists, and the white-hot nightlife scenes that naturally follow in their wake. What made this more than a generic tribute, though, is Mike’s personal connection to the area -- the Arts District was the home of his first studio in 2009, and Amiri’s current headquarters are close by. Though the neighbourhood has since blossomed into one of the city’s most stylish since then, at the time, “there wasn't much there except for creatives,” Mike says. “There was a certain dark romance to it,” one that he pays due homage to in a breathtakingly slick short film, directed by Cara Stricker and soundtracked by hip-hop collective The Roots.
Against the firefly light show of the DTLA skyline by dusk, models mill about on the 4th Street Bridge. Their silhouettes while certainly in keeping with the Amiri codes of louche Californian luxury, feel a little more poised than we’ve seen in recent seasons from the brand, with understated, easy-wearing pieces that give off an air of eyewatering chic punctuated by zings of low-key camp. Belted, shearling-collared coats and amply cut suits in buttery tan leather are complemented by hulking faux furs; and the calm sobriety of slashed argyle knits and generous tailoring in bouclé, checked and pinstripe wools places the razzle-dazzle of leopard accents and trousers in shimmering lurex and braided wide-gauge monochrome yarn in relief.
This is a dressy collection, one that will serve us all well for when the time comes to hit the club again. But it also speaks to the urges felt by so many of us to dress up to the nines for any occasion, even if it is just seeing an old friend, or nipping to the shops for a pint of milk. It’s a sentiment that Mike can level with: “You really just want to show your best self,” he says. “I find myself taking more thought in how I'm dressing when I leave the house -- it feels like a real opportunity, something to be appreciated.”
Despite the sense of occasion that the garments convey, there’s nonetheless a real sense of tangibility to Amiri’s AW21 proposal, born of Mike’s own memories of DTLA nights and the characters that define them. “I always think of my heroes, and for me, they're the musicians, the artists the writers: those that partake in the dark underground scene Downtown,” he says. “I started, little by little, drawing out these characters, thinking 'What does that hustler playing pool in a downtown bar look like? What does the musician wear on his way to a rehearsal room down here?’” The answers to those questions, of course, manifest in what we see here: clothes for when the hearts of our cities pulse with life again.