The fashion month that is slowly yet relentlessly coming to an end this week in Paris, proved that politics, resistance and human rights have been on many designers' minds. Art has also been (as usual) an important inspiration, while architecture seems to have been left behind for the next season. Yet, there were maybe glimpses of something architectural behind Marco De Vincenzo's maximalist A/W 17 collection.
Arthur Arbesser's runway took place in an industrial environment, but Marco De Vincenzo featured in his collection - showcased at Milano Congressi fairgrounds during the local fashion week - some elements that called to mind solid futuristic and industrial spaces.
His show opened indeed with an ink blue faux fur coat that included an intarsia motif of what may have been a factory with smoke coming out of a chimney. In a way it was a sort of futuristic industrial landscape verging towards the dystopia.
The same motif was replicated on his signature Lurex tops and the show continued in this mood and featured also checked skirts and designs decorated with Autumnal leaves.
If you looked a bit better and if you knew your architecture, you realised that some of the structures and motifs included in the designs echoed the ideas behind the drawings of Antonio Sant'Elia, a visionary Italian architect and a key member of the Futurist movement in architecture.
Born in 1888, Sant'Elia managed to anticipate in his drawings and sketches the characteristics and the configurations of the great metropolises of the modern age. His drawings included cityscapes with towering skyscrapers, power plants and futurist stations for trains and airplanes.
Sant'Elia's vision revolved around a highly industrialized and mechanized city of the future, conceived not as a mass of individual buildings but as a vast, multi-level, interconnected and integrated urban conurbation that at times seemed to have a ziggurat-like formation.
The architect's ziggurats were monumentally monolithic skyscraper buildings with terraces, bridges and aerial walkways that anticipated the settings of early sci-fi films such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis. Sant'Elia's drawings and buildings were therefore characterised by a great energy and sense of movement.
The same energy could be spotted in De Vincenzo's collection, that the designer conceived as a fantasy wardrobe for the future. There were actually no direct references to Space Age fashion or to Sant'Elia buildings (even though the latter may have been on De Vincenzo's mind since there was an exhibition last year at Milan's La Triennale museum marking the 100th anniversary of Sant'Elia's death), but future was a mood conveyed by colours and juxtapositions of textiles and fabrics.
His plaid apron dresses and pleated tartan skirts featured for example a graphic ziggurat motif created with decorative strips of fabrics in contrasting colours and patterns arranged at the level of the hips. These configurations of textiles called to mind the shape of Sant'Elia towering structures.
Further elaborations included coats with PVC fringes that looked like Christmas tinsel decorations, designs characterised by vivid contrasts of colours such as blue and green or pink and white donned with tights covered in a dense floral print, embroidered leopard jackets and coloured furs (for men's as well).
Marco De Vincenzo defended his maximalist vision of clashing textures in the show notes claiming he was "creating a conjunction between seemingly incompatible elements". It would be interesting to see what he may come up with if he combined his quirkiness with a rigorous architectural twist. In a way, there was already a hint to what the outcomes may be in this collection.