- Text Alex James Taylor
- 8th April 2021
During the current global pandemic, not only have our lifestyles been twisted, but our visual cues and language have also been altered. Kris Van Assche wanted to play on this with his FW21 collection video, which saw models walk across a floor marked with the sort of social distancing graphic signage that has suddenly become such a familiar part of everyday life. Representing “an illustration of the limitations of our moment in time” (as quoted in the press release), the choreography showed us that there’s freedom to be found within constraints – of the mind if not the physical.
This mindset was translated via a collaboration with Berlin-based Russian contemporary painter Lev Khesin, whose work combines multiple layers of painted silicone to create tactile colour blends: Rothko-esque, these artistic expressions appears to show hues leaking into one another like the deepest of sunsets. Like Berluti’s own artisanal house codes – including its signature patina tanning technique – this method of working is unpredictable and impossible to fully control, instead there’s a freedom given to the materials that realises unique patterns and tones.
Viewed through a Berluti lens, the artisanal craft of Khesin’s practice mirrors Berluti’s own, and a dialogue is clear between the artist’s unique colouring technique and Berluti’s signature burnished patina tanning method, which has become a calling card for Van Assche’s vision since joining the house.
These codes of fluidity and adaptability surged through the collection, subverting traditional formal codes to convey a modernist touch. Silhouettes were loose and imbued with workwear and sportswear nuances that spoke of human interaction and the intimacy of touch. Tailoring was lined with hand-stitched point norvégien – a white stitch embroidery traditionally applied in shoe-making – while pieces either reinterpreted Khesin’s visual language via geometric patterns or printed exact artworks across suits; beautifully aligned between jacket, trouser and footwear to create full-body degradé interpretations whose tones shimmered beautifully in tune with the movement of the body.