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For too long, fashion has been a singular effort. One creative genius was backed by their atelier, and as the face of the brand, they could be as powerful as the brand’s history itself. While we’re still continuing along the path of individualist ideology, the walls are crumbling down. For the better. This goes beyond the one-off collaborations between high fashion designers and lower-priced retailers of the 2010s, and is about powerhouses (plural) joining forces. It’s most strikingly apparent with Italian brands, given Fendace, Gucci hacking Balenciaga, and Raf Simons joining Miucci Prada for her namesake label. Moncler, however, has been pushing the collective narrative for years. There is strength in numbers.
The Moncler Genius Project acts as a think tank for designers like JW Anderson, Matthew Williams, and Veronica Leoni, who are tasked with reinterpreting the Moncler DNA. This spring-summer 222 season, the collective sought to make a global impression with MONDOGENIUS, an immersive digital experience that spanned continents. Across five cities, Moncler Genius designers presented their collections virtually. Think of it as an international Zoom call of joint runways. “I truly believe in the power of connecting communities around experiences and creative visions,” said Moncler’s chairman and CEO Remo Ruffini in the brand’s press release. “This is the principle that guided the creation of Moncler Genius for 2021.”
For Leoni, the creative force behind 2 Moncler 1952, she aimed to reach her audience on an emotional level. Her spring-summer collection, streamed live from New York, tapped Solange Knowles starring in “Rest Your,” a short film directed by Khalik Allah. Her spiritual performance softly complemented Leoni’s feminine designs worn by the artist, her bandmates, and dancers. Tops and trousers alike gushed with feather trim while one trumpeter wore flared, puffer leg warmers. The quiet impact of a digital presentation in lieu of a runway is powerful, which is exactly what Leoni aimed for.
Ahead, ELLE spoke to Leoni about designing for a post-pandemic client, her creative process with Solange and the future of collective design.
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This was the first full fashion season back in real life. How did it feel to return?
Exciting! Liberating! I was claustrophobic in my own body!
What was your jumping-off point in terms of inspiration?
I wanted to challenge the idea of a very classical 50s silhouette translated with Moncler’s most authentic techniques. I loved the idea of bringing into a sporty universe such a staple of elegance and femininity.
What was your favorite part of the MONDOGENIUS experience? There were so many musicians and artists!
Freedom from any boundaries and creativity with endless possibilities is the most desirable condition a creative director can wish for itself. I was clear in mind in what I wanted to do for the event and I enjoyed every step in the way. Solange has been so inspiring!
What was it like conceptualizing the 2 Moncler 1952 performance with Solange?
After thinking quite a lot about the best way to virtually show this collection, I decided to opt-out of the classical show formula. I wanted to touch emotional cords and get connected with my audience in a different way, adding to the collection a sort of more ritual and spiritual experience which can stick onto their memories in a very iconic and emotional way.
I questioned myself, ‘What was I missing the most during these peculiar months?’ And the answer was easy: concerts! The possibility to be lost in a crowd and feel the flow of energies between the artist performing and their people. That ultimate moment of electricity and a sense of wholeness. The ecstatic experience of something like this is the most creative exchange I could offer.
What were the goals that you wanted to achieve together?
Solange Knowles was perfectly embodying what I was looking for. With her iconic performances, she would have been able to transport us into another dimension. Make us feel energetically connected through her voice, her movements, and music. And I was mesmerized when I receive the first draft of the video! Her performance empowered my collection and added to it her mystical soul, integrating the majestic architecture and the space around it. Intimate but bold, indulging in the ideas of transition, growth, exodus, and new beginnings. The minimal silhouettes underscored exaggerated puffer details and broad feathers as an unspoken ode to the beauty and power in the truth within and around us. Solange as a forever muse of mine put the perfect womanhood in action!
What was your favorite or most memorable input from her?
We exchanged mood boards according to what was my first input and I loved to see her being immediately so visionary not just on the music but on everything: architectural space, overall impression on the costumes, composition, etc. The energy was perfectly focused already on the right direction and we didn’t need to talk too much! It was all there!
Designing for women today is a little different than it was pre-pandemic. How did you approach this collection differently?
I’ve always been extremely pragmatic in my approach to design. Possibly, I’m purifying the process even more trying to stick to the most essential and balanced result. On the other end, I feel a certain instinct towards an inner extravaganza which I’m trying to translate in my own words.
Over recent years, Moncler has proven itself to be a fashion hub for many designers. Mondogenuis is a continuation of that. With all the new buzz-worthy partnerships like Fendace or Gucci “hacking” Balenciaga, what are your thoughts about creative directors and designers becoming more collaborative?
I like that. I think everybody has their own Genius nowadays. But as a creative director, I do believe in uniqueness. Founding Quira, my new brand, was definitely a way to affirm myself in the system. It was very much about making space, blowing a bubble where myself and my team could act and practice fashion with our own rules, our instinctual method, and reach out to like-minded peers. [Individual] design is central and it is the ultimate tool to define what it means to be authentic and recognizable in a crowded industry.
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