We all know that, when it comes to fashion weeks, it is mainly the most visually striking collections that end up being immediately posted on Instagram, while painfully hip and charismatic young designers (who often do not have any real skills in tailoring) are hailed as the next big thing.
Gabriele Colangelo's collections often move from osbcure art references that annoy (the very few) reviewers (left out there) or require a commentator to look closely at the garments to discover not just the main inspiration behind them, but the technique employed to make a particular piece. That's the main reason why, Colangelo doesn't seem to get the attention he may deserve.
For his S/S 18 collection, the designer left behind art inspirations to inject a healthy dose of art and craft in his fabrics, creating intriguing textural solutions.
Playing with masculinity and femininity, he combined sharply cut shirts and coats with soft fabrics that he pleated, gathered, dyed and embossed before using them for waving inserts on coats and dresses or to create simple dresses gathered at the waist by coloured belts.
Rather than arty his densely gathered pleats called to mind architectural pleated shell structures, complex design systems often applied in contemporary architectural projects by studios à la Zaha Hadid's.
One of the most interesting effects achieved was obtained pleating by hand a fabric and then dyeing it with the Japanese shibori technique.
The materials, creating fluid inserts and panels and asymmetrical effects, were then coated to achieve a leather-like finish, while maintaining a natural look.
In most cases you got the impression that some of the dresses were made using pleated paper rather than fabric. The arty touch came back combined with a sculptural and an architectural precision in the long silk and cotton waistcoats/sleeveless coats double-printed with blurred floral patterns.
The tie-dyed flower prints were particularly convincing, like the knitwear that included a light pleated dress and a top, while the half pantsuit/half pleated dress design perfectly embodied the masculine/feminine dichotomy, but reeked a bit too much of a Gaultier-meets-Margiela experiment. Most looks were accessorised by practical leather bags or by obi belts that incorporated a large flat pocket bag.
An olive trench coat broke the palette of navy, pale blue and soft lemon, even though navy and white with just a splash of red added, came back towards the very end of the show.
The catwalk closed with a final section that included a coat and a dress in which the fabrics had been reversed to show the back of a decorative pattern. This technique was reminiscent of Alexander McQueen's S/S 18 men's coats, even though Colangelo had already started experimenting with threads left undone in his A/W 2017 collection. Some details and elements, such as the impractically long dangling straps should have also been edited out of the collection.
Colangelo may not be listed among the trendy designers à la J.W.Anderson or Jacquemus, but, when he comes to shapes and silhouettes, he has a better grasp of what looks flattering on the body, apart from also having an enviable knowledge of fabrics and materials such as fur or leather that other hyped up designers simply do not have.
Yes, we do live in times for magpies and everything that sparkles and shines is considered the artwork of a genius; but maybe we should find ways to look at a collection from other points of view and discover the techniques and materials behind it rather than stopping at the surface, otherwise we will just end up being blinded by intricately embellished designs.