Unsatisfaction and inadequacy, existential unease and habitual nonchalance: attitude counts more than clothes. Idem for that body language which all on its own can at once talk about and strike down clichés. Turning the norm into an opportunity for change, shaking up what’s routine; and taking references, too, back to an unsettling collocation, in no way didactic, to put certitudes in crisis. The N21 Fall/Winter 2023-24 collection challenges the whole notion of the clothes and milieus, the cultural customs that mark the life and the women’s fashion of our times.
Alessandro Dell’Acqua, creative director of N21. «I began working on this collection with in mind two female figures from 1960s Michelangelo Antonioni movies who seem to me quite emblematic of modern day: Monica Vitti and Jeanne Moreau in the La notte (The Night), or even just Vitti in Deserto rosso (Red Desert). Those were the years of the questioning and dissatisfaction people experienced as a result of major socioeconomic gains.
Yet they were also the years of the discovery of sensuality, eroticism even, along with the use – daring for the period – of cunning and treachery. They were the years when provincial and middle-class Italian clichés fell apart in face of a changing world. Today what sparks my interest is the same inclination for seeking the new without hiding in any comfort zone of certitudes. And that’s why I put together a lot of clichés of the feminine wardrobe, so as to better identify them, shake them up and strike them (or simply play) them down. I chose to work not through shapes and volumes, but by giving the clothes the chance to be put at the service of a body language that’s so very free it also automatically becomes quite sophisticated.»
Analyzing and reinterpreting shapes, proportions, effects. The suit, in a minimal cut, is made from a mannish fabric; similarly, the faux fur cardigan is paired with a striped mannish shirt and a lacquered satin skirt. Back fastening cardigans sport brooches pinned along the hemline. Chiffon dresses have invisible tulle slip-dresses underneath, while standalone slip-dresses are fully embroidered. Coats come in stretch twill melton or in camel wool, yet always have a back zip for purposes of widening the front buttoning and forming a neckline. Shearlings feature animal spot patterns. Gold fabric skirts go with coarse textured doubleface sweaters. Faux fur borders trim sweaters as well as skinny coat-dress type coats. Lastly, there are lots of trompe-l’oeil effects, as in: the dress created from two slip-dresses, one over the over; the skirt seemingly made from an upside-down slipdress; and the nude look twin set fashioned from totally sheer nylon.
Shoes and bags, super simple to describe the cliché, make fine use of color and play richly with materials. Shoes have invisible heels and come variously in leather, in patent leather, in mockcroc leather, in animal print fur and in satin. All in black or in pink or green hues. Just like the bags, which in addition to the latest takes on N21 classics, include the new “Edith”: bag complete with wide flap accented by a gold metal rod.