Collina Strada FW 24…and other thoughts

Why are so many creative directors white men? That was the headline of an article in Vogue Business by Amy Francombe this past fall when the multi-national corporation Kering announced that a white man was replacing Sarah Burton, who was stepping down from McQueen (Seán McGirr). And why that’s kind of a big deal is because McGirr’s appointment means now all of Kering’s creative directors are white men. Beyond Kering, of the top 30 brands in the Vogue Business Index, eight of the 33 creative directors are women, even though most brands sell women’s fashion.

This kind of thing makes me want to scream #WTF!?!? Though, as someone who grew up in the dance world, this is depressingly familiar: ballet, an art form that relies on female bodies to fill the stage, still has primarily male choreographers and artistic directors. Seeing a man with half the talent of a woman being given an opportunity to be a creative is par for the course in the dance world.

Women Dressing Women

But back to fashion. As if to rectify this, the MET’s Costume Institute currently has “Women Dressing Women,” an exhibit of female designers from the past 100 years. Many are unknown, while their male contemporaries are known to all (Yves Saint Laurent, Dior etc.)

While I appreciated the fashion, the exhibit felt wildly insufficient and slightly patronizing. A piece from Vivienne Westwood here, Iris van Herpen there, and the unknown Maria Monaci Gallenga over there. There are easily two-three-four or more exhibitions within this one.  So, I don’t know if I should feel annoyed or grateful. I left feeling a bit of both.

Collina Strada

This all leads to Collina Strada – this article, at least! Hillary Taymour seemed particularly on point with her latest collection highlighting women’s strength.

“This collection is about being a strong woman or a strong feminine power navigating the chaos that is going on in this world,” Hillary Taymour told Vogue. “We’re not casting any cis men this season, which I’ve never done before, but it just felt right.”

I find that last part incredibly refreshing (and so does my former dancer self). But fashion is, of course, ultimately about the clothes. So, stepping beyond the politics of gender, I can say this is my favorite Collina Strada collection yet.

The collection was created from deadstock materials and had the vibrancy and energy for which Taymour is known. The opening look had pants with a double waistband –giving the impression of boxer shorts underneath–and ruffles on the sides. Worn with a black t-shirt with one shirred sleeve, this look underscored the theme and set the tone.

Swirling soft yet saturated floral printed skirts and pants were paired with corsets or shirred tops with shredded chiffon sleeves. The sleeves are intentionally padded; thus, the wearer takes up more physical –and perhaps psychic– space. Several models flexed actual muscles while others wore tops with trompe l’oeil abs. I appreciated the details and intentionality in the individual pieces in this collection as much as the presentation en toto. 

Circling back to the opening of this article, I can’t help wondering how many more potential Hillary Taymour’s are out there: creative women who care about collective future –upcycling and re-inventing how fashion can be– who get overlooked by the powers that be. Hell, if there was a shoulder to be tapped when Sarah Burton stepped down, why not somewhat with the vision of Taymour? As the Met show indicated, women have always been there, revolutionizing fashion and the vast majority of designers in the “sustainable” space* are indeed female. If the future is a place that we invent, let’s bring this collective vision and yes, the strength of women, to the forefront.

*I use “sustainable” when I mean approaching their business in a way that is respectful of people and the planet. I am open to new language.

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–Katya Moorman

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