In an elegant apartment-turned-gallery in the centre of Milan, the late Greek gallerist Alexander Iolas is celebrated in a dense, decorative exhibition curated by Francesco Vezzoli.
Paris, SS 2021
Illustrating The Runway
There was little about fashion week that was ‘normal’ this season, marked by the absurdity of holding fashion month in the midst of a pandemic, of pressure induced by the French government to go on as usual, mostly to support the hard-hit industry, and the behind the scenes extravaganza required to put together what we know and love to call, Paris Fashion Week. Despite social measures and restrictions put into place, some designers used out-door spaces and some didn’t show at all. Some even experimented in VR shows while various used digital runways, videos and if you were lucky, you got to sit on a ‘phygital’ front row.
The New York-based fashion illustrator Richard Haines sketched his favourite looks from the SS 2021 collections this season, once again commissioned by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM). Known for his vibrant fashion illustrations from the runway onto the street, Haines built up his reputation working in fashion as a designer before starting his own blog. Today his sketches travel around the world with him and he will often be seen front row at fashion week instantly sketching as the garments parade by.
This season some of the noteworthy looks included the new-gen approach with Wales Bonner kicking off the shows with her short film entitled, “Thinkin Home”, created by Jeano Edwards exploring the 1980s culture and dress between London and Jamaica. For this Haines produced two sketches that move as they appeared on the screen. On the one hand riding a red motorcycle in a yellow and black bomber jacket combined with a tailored waistcoat and Adidas trainers and, on the other, opening the scene leading a horse wearing purple and yellow sportswear.
Haines then went onto illustrate Daniel Roseberry’s collection for Schiaparelli featuring the legendary designer’s flair for surrealism, a signature that fits well with Roseberry’s aesthetic. This too was shown as a video and followed by a complete look book of photos with the most distinctive facial accessories to come out of this year’s fashion week, perhaps a sign of the times, eyeglasses with bright blue eyes in the centre, gilded masks covering nose and mouth, of course, fingertips and more. For this Haines perfectly captured the armour-like spectacles along with a Schiap’ take on a classic white shirt overflowing tailored trousers, a pair of surreal sandals and to finish, a Filofax leather clutch.
The Patou SS21 collection took place in a traditional Parisian-style Salon, this time with empty seats scattered around a wooden-floor studio as models twirled and walked around the room nonchalantly as if it were filmed backstage and the show was yet to commence. Chairs and the wooden floors are both present in Haines’s interpretation, the model wearing a satin and silk pink cinched dress with puffed sleeves and collar alla’ Française. This was topped with an embroidered structural bonnet and finished with black stockings and white imitation ballet pumps.
From Jonathan Anderson’s Loewe collection that explored fashion through art in a video produced by Loewe, the clothing was portrayed on mannequins as the camera travelled over each garment revealing details of embroidery, boning, of layers and masterful drapery — narrated by the designer himself. Haines captured the sheen off the fabric as it travelled across the torso and hung on a mannequin. With the moving image of the video, the clothes come to life echoed by Anderson’s Northern Irish accent. As a sketch, a much deeper and shadowed experience takes place and here, Haines experimented with light as it reflects on silk or satin.
Dries Van Noten is another designer to have showcased digitally, as garments swayed on the moving bodies of the models. While Chanel under Virginie Viard, brought back 1980s big-shouldered Chanel suit jackets with cinched waists, Haines portrayed a not-so-little black dress embroidered with blue petal-like patterns and velvet bows.
Giambattista Valli, Lutz Huelle and Marine Serre were also included in the sketches. In fact Haines chose to illustrate Serre’s dystopian movie in four parts in disturbing clinical interiors and a menacing narrative. Serre’s signature moon shaped face coverings were central and extended into permanent tattoos throughout the film and replicated in the drawings. A sign of the times no doubt, they ended in what looked like red inferno scenes in Haines’s fiery sketches.
Chloe by Natacha Ramsay-Levi, featured post-quarantine comfort dressing and a loosened silhouette whilst brining in reflective research involving the graphic silkscreen works of American artist Corita Kent as prints for some of the looks throughout the collection. Here, Haines illustrated the ‘Hope’ dress, worn by Phoebe Collings-James, originally created by the American artist and advocate for social justice, in 1965.
Miu Miu was live-streamed from Milan and imagined a cyber-sports arena covered in screens as the faces of their clientele and savvy poster girls watched the show. This collection celebrated being a teenager and at the forefront, depicted by Haines, was Lila Moss wearing a striped polo-neck and twee mini skirt, finished with Miu Miu trainer-like sling-backs. Last but by no means the least, Haines illustrated looks from Andreas Kronthaler for Vivienne Westwood, Hermès by Nadège Vanhée-Cybulski, Dice Kayek by Ece Ege, Balenciaga by Demna Gvasalia, Akris by Albert Kriemler, Cecilie Bahnsen and Anrealage by Kunihiko Morinaga.
Richard Haines’s illustrations give a fresh perspective on the fashion week collections that have like most professions in the fashion industry and around the world, been forced to change and adapt. Fashion imagery over the last hundred years has evolved and adapted too, and now with physical shows on hold or becoming digital, never before has there been more need for experimentation in the way fashion imagery is portrayed. Some of the sketches have been posted on the FHCM online platform during fashion week whilst others have been posted on their respective social media accounts. Some of Haines’s fashion illustrations can also be seen in A Magazine N°20, Curated By Pierpaolo Piccioli as part of a collaborative project with Valentino and photographer Nick Knight.
Words: Alexandra Castle
All drawings by Richard Haines for Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.
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