When it comes to fashion shakeups, when it rains, it pours. The last time we saw major companies playing fashion’s musical chairs, Alexander Wang ended up at Balenciaga and Hedi Slimane was appointed to Yves Saint Laurent (where he immediately dropped the Yves, causing tons of backlash from basically everybody). Now there are several news bits hitting the press involving names we’ve come to know—all of which are unexpected and raise questions about the future of several fashion houses. A common theme, though, is the newfound appreciation of the avant-garde by big fashion corporations. Fashion’s return to wild fashion a la Anna Dello Russo has impacted where investors place their chips.
Once word got out that LVMH, the huge Paris-based fashion conglomerate, was giving relative newcomer J.W. Anderson creative control at Loewe, things got interesting. Now, the pairing honestly couldn’t be further from obvious. Here we are, a centuries-old fashion house with ties to the royal family of Spain, giving this 29-year-old Irish guy the reins. The icing on the cake is J.W. Anderson’s design aesthetic. He’s sent men down in the runways in strapless dresses and flounced skirts, and continues to blur the lines of gender with each collection at London Fashion Week. He designed a capsule collection for Versace’s line Versus; the collaboration was wonderful and made sense as Donatella and Anderson’s design sensibilities are both young, edgy, and at times just for fun.
And J.W. Anderson’s less-than-conservative approach to fashion isn’t the only surprise coming from LVMH. They have also taken stake in British footwear label Nicholas Kirkwood. His shoes range from super-sleek and muted to over-the-top, from a black flat to a spiraled pink pump and red patent leather creepers. Kirkwood has even collaborated with Peter Pilotto a brand as known for their quality as they are for their love for funky, colorful prints. From a company who has focused on the likes of Celine and Christian Dior, the move to start investing the big bucks in smaller companies with a big creative splash is bold, but may end up being more profitable than expected. Call it what you want, LVMH is trying to get a slice of this new-age avant-garde money that young designers all over the world are raking in with their outlandish designs.
On the other foot, we have a more fitting appointment—Marco Zanini moving over to become creative director at the long-under-the-radar house of Schiaparelli. Elsa Schiaparelli’s namesake line has been essentially only alive via licensees, the house was closed in the mid-fifties. Rochas’ collections under Zanini, very streamlined and sensual, always came with a quirky edge, and this meshes perfectly with Schiaparelli’s long-standing tradition of “I do what I want” sass. Elsa even collaborated with Surrealist artist Jean Cocteau—Vogue referred to her studio as a “madhouse”, while Cocteau said it was “the Devil’s laboratory”. Hopefully under Zanini, that’s the kind of devil-may-care fun that we can come to expect from the house coming shortly!
In this post-Gaga (if such a term is appropriate) world, fashion’s definitely embracing the funky avant-garde aesthetic again (you know what they say, what goes around comes around). Bring on the wacky and wonderful Schiaparelli.