Gabriele Colangelo may be Italian, but there is always something quintessentially Japanese about him. The cut and construction of some of his garments from the S/S 16 collection betrayed indeed a rigorously conceptual and architectural quality about them.
His strength, though, stands in his knowledge of luxurious fabrics: this season he actually took further his passion for experimenting with different weights and came up with new fabric interventions.
The designer took for example velvet and - in a process that called to mind Madame Gallenga's early experiments with this fabric - aged it using a laser cutting technique. Then he employed it to create geometric details or graphic inserts on dresses.
One of Colangelo's trademark is subverting roles and aims and using fabric as if it were fur and fur like fabric. In this case he employed a type of long-haired goat's fur - kidassia - in a creative way to decorate shirt-like jackets or to make bras half hidden under under long navy blue tunics. In other cases, he inserted the material into necklines and hems or applied it to day bags.
He also took silk threads and - inspired by the West African cloth called kente - he tried to come up with a new kind of textile that at times integrated gold shades and nuances and that gave his dresses and light coats a soft furry consistency.
Though at times broken by asymmetrical elements, the main silhouette for this collection was long and narrow, as proved also by the pleated silk tunics à la Mariano Fortuny or the velvet jumpsuits that elongated the body.
The collection palette revolved around a combination of lavender and pale lilac, copper, turquoise, mustard, white, black and khaki.
As a whole it was a very architectural collection with some arty inspirations - F.W.H. Arkhust's photographs and Scott Bergey's abstract paintings - characterised by clean lines and graphic slits.
Colangelo comes from a family of furriers, but he has also spent many years working behind the scenes for other brands and companies, he therefore has a vast knowledge of textiles, fabrics and furs.
Yet, not being covered in glitter and sparkling crystals, his fashion is difficult to understand and uninteresting for the Instagram-wired generation. In a fashion world focused on the spectacle and the visually striking Insta-shows it may be difficult to grasp the concept of lasting products and of a beauty that comes from a solid and long research.
Slightly older than many other hip and trendy modern designers adored by powerful fashion editors and cool high profile bloggers, Colangelo is therefore still finding it difficult to find his way on a wider fashion market.
Eventually history will prove him right, though: for the time being fashionistas may be going for the rather impractical yet trendy designs such as Gucci's fur slippers, but it's not trends that count and a solid knowledge in specific fields such as fabrics and textiles is what will take further those talented and knowledgeable designers who are largely ignored at the moment.
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