#SuzyPitti: Sterling Ruby’s Fashion Moment In A Former Florence Hay Barn
Sterling Ruby brings joy to Florence
It is so rare these days for designers new to fashion to appear from nowhere and make an impact. At 47, Californian artist Sterling Ruby is not exactly fresh to fame, as a mightily successful modern artist with multiple different creations, not to mention his collaborations with Raf Simons during the designer’s time at Calvin Klein.
Yet the roar of joy from an audience penned in a broiling hot former Florence hay barn was one of those fashion ‘moments’, a tribal approval of a collection that expressed a current yearning for craft, for originality and also for wearable but artistic clothes.
“I balance things – I am a manic personality,” said the designer, referring to his other artistic ‘day jobs’ – from painting to sculpture, and including the photography of his wife, Melanie Schiff, who collaborated to produce original patterns, such as her photographic images of candles her husband had built as fine art.
With so many creative ideas, why would this multi-tasker use paint blobs, painterly colours and knitted effects to create clothing that was colourful, checkered or decorated with sparkling strands?
“In a weird way I find it may be more liberating,” Sterling Ruby explained, adding: “Not that I mind that somebody has an object or painting and hangs it on the wall. But it is kind of fun to think that something is being worn out in the world – and having movement that other people can see.”
Joyous is the best word to describe this exceptional work, splattered artistically but with touches of darkness in bags with angry messages and axes held in the hand as accessories. The collection will be sold under the complex title S.R. Studio. LA. CA., and even the sales will be done in an original way.
“When we get back to LA and start to break down our studio and start to rebuild it again, we will see which lineage we take next,” the designer said. “How will I sell it? I don’t know yet, we will find out. We are trying to do our own e-commerce store and we are also going to put it out serially and over a period of time with people that we like. But ‘seasonal’- I’m not that interested.”
Givenchy looks East in a royal setting
The setting was a dream – the grandly historic house of Villa Palmieri where Queen Victoria enjoyed summer days with her family in the late 19th century. From the hilltop above Florence, she must have watched the golden sun setting over the River Arno over 100 years ago.
The setting is, of course, still there in all its eternal beauty. But how was it relevant to the first Givenchy menswear show from designer Clare Waight Keller – unless, perhaps, she was underscoring the royal connection she has made for the Parisian fashion house as chief fashion supplier, including the wedding dress, to Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex?
But could there have been a bigger jolt between history and modernity than the Givenchy collection, inspired, according to the designer, by young men from South Korea? The cut was slim, even skinny, the fabrics light, colour saturated – the entire effect about as different as could be imagined from the closet of a young European royal (Prince Harry comes to mind).
The strategy of the designer and the Givenchy company is hard to fathom. The original Hubert de Givenchy was a graceful classicist. And although any luxury company today has to think globally, surely there should be some connection with the French founder – and indeed the elegant, couture-style women’s clothes that Megan favours.
Since this was the first stand-alone Givenchy men’s show, I understand the designer’s desire to make a statement, And maybe South Korea is the company’s biggest market. But as an image statement for the house, it was a puzzle.
LuisaViaRoma and Carine Roitfeld: High fashion at 90
Even without Gigi Hadid sashaying in shiny leggings in front of 4,000 people in a vast fashion arena on the top of Florence’s Piazzale Michelangelo, this event was high fashion drama.
Florence’s famous multi-brand store LuisaViaRoma was celebrating 90 years – and to show its depth and its reach, fashion luminary Carine Roitfeld put on a dramatic show.
Between the high opera that opened the event and Lenny Kravitz giving it a rocking closure, Roitfeld, working with her son on their CR project, sent out a mighty mix of brands shown on models – both current and legendary -including Karolína Kurková and Alek Wek.
Although the fashion display was mainly from the speciality store’s current collection, it seemed like every brand – from Armani to Zegna – that has illuminated fashion over the last 30 years was on the runway.
But the biggest cheers were for the memories – especially of KL, where Carine is helping to keep the brand alive, and for Christian Lacroix dresses that turned pouff into gowns of rare beauty.