Memes of ‘What if 2020 is just a trailer for 2021?’ have been popping up all over social media. Indeed, the year has seen productions and deliveries delayed and that urge to splurge has been gripped by a looming fear of a second COVID-19 wave or a bleak economy. The fashion industry is in a state of limbo and designers are grappling with having to rethink a different kind of proposition for their audience, who are now taking a pragmatic approach to fashion and the way they consume.
For spring/summer 2021, Natacha Ramsay-Levi took an unvarnished slant to the way she views today’s Chloé woman. Staged at Palais de Tokyo, models are captured in the opening narrative strolling casually along the bank of the Seine mask-free, while another model takes a casual selfie by a bridge. These deliberate acts of normality are broadcast on three large screens as a prelude to the show proper, when a line of models strolls down the courtyard of the art centre.
Ramsay-Levi’s love for the ’70s reigns supreme at Chloé, but the clear point of view here is her take on a breezier, less constructed silhouette (because a timeless piece of clothing that allows you to move at ease in a real-life scenario is key). Her current obsession is based on the simplicity of squares, worked into either a shape or a delicate lacework panel that runs down slip dresses, wrap skirts and boxy silk shirts, giving a refined elevation to an otherwise quick-to-decode line-up of well-executed separates. And because wearing your heart on your sleeve is totally the modus operandi of 2020, Ramsay-Levi and her collaboration with the late artist Corita Kent brought forth some of the most uplifting slogans of empowerment like Hope, She Shines, and I Can Handle It splashed across T-shirts and atop tiny badges.
But what stole the show for me, aside from the pillow duffle bags, was the diverse casting of the models. The variety of body shapes and facial complexions, each almost telling a different story, brought a genuine air of relatability to Ramsay-Levi’s post-lockdown vision—the vision of offering familiarity and comfort to a different kind of future.