Spring 2021: What’s Modern Now?

Alaia Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

The Spring 2021 collections are now underway in Paris, the last leg of their four cities “tour.” Even with a vaccine in place by early 2021, we won’t be resuming our normal lives anytime soon. Fantasy is great, but we need clothes for this new reality.

Valentino Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

I am less interested in seeing evening wear dressed down than daywear dressed up. Let’s get real. Where are we going? The word “modern” is continually bantered around in fashion. The question is, “What is modern now”?

Monse Resort Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Between the Jewish Holidays, the death of RBG, the COVID pandemic, and presidential debates, I find it hard to focus on fashion. I can’t get excited about Jason Wu opening NYFW. His collection looks like what many of us are wearing lounging at home or out in the Hamptons. On the other hand, I appreciate the cool, athletic spirit and gutsy outerwear at Monse. It’s sporty yet still pulled together.

Stella Jean Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Color and pattern are all over the spring runways, but it has to be done well. Tom Ford’s collection focuses on garish color and clashing prints that do not look particularly luxurious or expensive. Hot pink satin pants with Tom Ford emblazoned on the waistband? I think not! On the other hand, the color and pattern mix at Stella Jean (who is half Italian, half Haitian) radiates a well-timed multi-cultural charm and exuberance.

Prada Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

I love the restrained use of color at Prada and the artistic minimalism that infuses the collection. The elegant pointy-toed shoes on a very low kitten heel, and the clutch coats, are very appealing. The models look comfortable, chic, and underdone.

Christopher Kane Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

It’s impossible to ignore the strong connection between fashion and modern art this season. Christopher Kane uses his lockdown art to create a small group of one of a kind pieces for spring. What makes it look modern is the usage of simplistic, easy, wardrobe basics.

Marni Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Marni’s Creative Director Francesco Risso took favorite pieces from the Marni archives, patched them together, and painted them with poetic words from personal correspondence over the past season. The coats were outstanding.

MM6 Maison Margiela Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

The subversion and hybridization of classic wardrobe basics at MM6 Maison Margiela looks especially relevant right now. So does the element of surprise, especially when it comes to accessories. Things are never as they seem in life and this collection.

Marine Serre’s spring 2021 collection, shown in a film on the second day of Paris Fashion Week, addresses our needs today and epitomizes modern. Serre created her collection during the lockdown. She named it “Amor Fati,” which means “the loving acceptance of your fate.” It’s the idea that you should love everything that happens and not wish for anything other than what is.

Marine Serre Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Unlike so many others this season, Serre’s clothes are not long, floaty, airy, and over-sized. They are neither retro nor sci-fi futuristic. There are no clashing colors, bright florals, ruffles, and unwieldy trains. Serre eschews fantasy and escapism and is not proposing special occasion wear.

Marine Serre Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Marine’s designs are for speed, protection, and efficiency. There are no unnecessary appendages. Serre’s collection is not destined for island vacations but rather intended for survival in the city. Marine lives and works in Paris, where she has observed a 30% surge in biking since the pandemic hit. Here in New York, bike riding rose by 67% in March. As the designer noted, “You don’t need a midi skirt if you can’t bike in it. You need to be able to function in the clothes; otherwise, you might as well wear a tee and jogging pants.” So, what does Serre propose, instead of a tee and jogging pants?

Marine won the 2017 LVMH Prize for her 2016 Radical Call for Love graduate collection. This season, Marine introduces a new signature Lozenge Moon Motif. Serre covers the body in a second skin stretch nylon bodysuit made of recycled, biodegradable nylon.

Marine Serre Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

The multi-pocketed Survival Jacket, Trenchcoat, and Overall use recycled black moire. A shiny black belted raincoat has a pronounced hood for added protection. The embossed allover black patent boxing boots are made for walking briskly or running.

Marine Serre Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

Everything in the collection has a purpose: the caps with attached scarves, the clear visors, the multi-pocketed bags, and the silver accessories. You never know when you will need a compass, a bottle opener, or a whistle! After all, this is 2020!

Christian Dior Spring 2021 Ready-to-Wear
Photo: vogue.com

The clothes’ relevant modernity in Marine Serre’s digital presentation was in stark contrast to the live Christian Dior show. Maria Grazia Chiuri’s murky colors, Mediterranean prints, and long sheer dresses are unapologetically ethnic and loungey. We’ve seen it all before. To me, it just looked droopy. Chiuri believes that clothes have to reflect our new lifestyle, which is all about staying at home intimacy.

Dior is not inexpensive. Are women going to plunk down all that money for clothes nobody sees? I’m not convinced.

Marilyn Kirschner
Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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