For autumn/winter 2021, Paul Andrew looked to the future in a big way with his most directional collection for Salvatore Ferragamo to date. Here, Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen breaks down five things to know about the multidimensional showcase.
The show was set in a sci-fi universe
“Bummed out” he couldn’t put on a physical show this season, Paul Andrew came up with a modest alternative. Why not, he thought, orchestrate a digital spectacular using elaborate stage effects and CGI to build an alternate sci-fi universe in the name of Salvatore Ferragamo? “I’ve never spoken about this before, but I have this passion for sci-fi movies,” he said quietly, on a video call from Milan. “I’m such a dork.” While created for a post-pandemic fashion climate, Andrew didn’t want his show to have the post-apocalyptic atmosphere often native to sci-fi. Rather, he said, “We’re showing the future in a joyful, euphoric way.”
It’s a new dimension for Salvatore Ferragamo
Inspired by Andrew’s favourite futurism, the show drew on elements from The Matrix, Gattaca, Star Wars and Blade Runner. “I’ve moved the brand forward quite a bit in terms of its youth appeal and its fashion positioning,” he said. And then some: the skin-tight, sculptural, streamlined, shiny clinical-ness of the sci-fi genre—exercised via Salvatore Ferragamo’s expert laboratories—came together in Andrew’s biggest fashion statement for the house to date. “For me this is a standpoint of the future that could be,” he said. “Ferragamo has never been this forward in a collection before.”
The AW21 bodysuit is here to stay
Honouring Salvatore Ferragamo’s heritage, the first six looks were crafted in leather but conveyed in sculptural cuts and rubber-like surface treatments that spoke to Andrew’s reference. Bodysuits—a proposal Prada has also been plugging this season—easily felt at home within his sci-fi universe, materialising in leather and fabric manifestations that Andrew said could be an idea of “a new suit”. Next to the spinning glass pyramid that served as centrepiece on his circular runway, draped Grecian dresses with sarouel side hems hinted at the conversation that’s always existed between sci-fi and the ancient world. On another timeless note, super luxe double-face cashmere coats with tonal fabric buttons were ever so universally covetable.
Paul Andrew predicts a world of new dress codes
In his research, Andrew put a wealth of everyday uniforms through his futurist machine, from the janitor to the boy scout and—weirdly appropriately for the spaceship milieu—the dentist. Inevitably, the results recalled traditional Kubrickian ideas of sci-fi as established in NASA spacesuits and Star Trek. (Is Andrew a Trekkie? “No, I’m not that bad!” No visits to conventions or penchants for Spock cosplay? “No! But each to his own!”) Through his study of uniforms, he sought to develop new, more casual dress codes. “After this crisis, I don’t see guys going back to three-piece tailored suits, at least from a fashion standpoint. So, this is more casual, more ease.”
Andrew called it a return to the house’s innovative roots
To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, the show felt like a giant leap for the house of Salvatore Ferragamo, which is really amping up its direction and ambition under Andrew. But, the designer said, “In truth, it’s a return to the mindset of Salvatore. Over the last many years, the brand had steered in a course that is quite disconnected from his original genius and invention. So, I tried rather humbly to move back to his way of thinking: pushing boundaries in terms of shape and material, in a totally modern way.”
This article was originally published on British Vogue