Nina Ricci, SS20.
You can see it in the Botter lookbooks, but it is especially evident in the photographs of Nina Ricci Spring 2020. There is a certain sense of proportion, fabrication and silhouette in the work of creative directors Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh that has echoes of 1950s couture.
It’s a wonder that haute couture silhouettes haven’t been appropriated for menswear and streetwear styles more often. Those 1950s couturiers knew a thing or two about how to cut volume into an oversized garment using the structure of the fabric and some well-placed horizontal seam lines.
In the images above, you can see examples from the 1950s from Cristóbal Balenciaga and Christian Dior which exemplify this classic silhouette. Swing jackets and cocoon coats that swoop in curves out from the shoulder line or hang like a trapeze shape or like a bell made of fabric. Notice also how Diana Vreeland seems to be demonstrating the curve of the Balenciaga check coat with her hands. As though she is gesticulating how the silhouette bulges out from the shoulders to create the airy space at the back before nipping under at the back of the thighs. The check on this coat is perfect for highlighting the silhouette as well. You can see how the width of the check narrows at the side to indicate how the pattern pieces must be tapered. The whole coat has such movement when viewed from the side, with the horizontal lines wrapping down and around at the back of the coat at an angle.
It makes sense that so many iconic images of the time were photographed from the side or at a 3/4 profile. This angle makes the most of the carefully created silhouettes that would have been lost if only viewed from the front.
It was these photographs that sprung to mind when looking at the Spring-Summer 2020 Botter menswear collection, and it is interesting to see how these shapes have been translated into contemporary garments. In this case, there is presumably less internal structure to rely on than there would have been for the couture versions. So the volume is coming from the stiffness of the fabric itself, and on the shape of the patterns. In a menswear context, choosing textiles with a glossy sheen also feels like a nod to evening wear styles from haute couture collections.
One aspect of the pattern making that is important in this case is in the shaping of the fabric over the shoulder. In this case, a dropped shoulder or a raglan sleeve allows the material to flow over the shoulder without a set-in sleeve construction with a shoulder pad.
Botter, Menswear, SS20.
In both the Botter menswear collection, and the Nina Ricci collection, there are playful tailoring details on display that will be interesting to pay attention to in future collections. Playing with proportion through cropping or layering parts of the jacket, or adding slit details, for example.
In the Nina Ricci collection images below, you can see how the fabric again flares away from the shoulders to create a trapeze silhouette. However, in these garments, the pattern making decision has been to use a set-in sleeve rather than a dropped shoulder or raglan sleeve. The volume of the front and back pieces of the swing jacket looks as though it is partly shaped using the pleats that run up and over the shoulder, with further control through tucks at the front of the jacket (seen on the front of the black and white version). Also, note the gentle shaping on the sleeve when viewed from the side, which we will assume is created using a two-piece sleeve.
Other interesting tailoring details below include the clean lines of the lapelless jacket, and the use of two different fabrics in the tailored vest design (in the image which appears to have a touch of the Ray Petri Buffalo vibe).
Another potential nod to Cristóbal Balenciaga is in the use of the horizontal seam line at the back of the check coat. Again this coat seems to have that sweeping front-to-back tilt that Vreeland was indicating earlier, though in this case the back pieces are given extra curve and movement by being cut on the bias grain. For those of you not familiar with grain lines, this piece appears to be cut so that the woven yarns of the fabric run across the back panel at a diagonal which allows greater malleability in the fabric. Using the cloth on the diagonal, or so that the grain runs diagonally across the pattern piece is useful when designers want to create more curves out of the fabric.
Nina Ricci, Spring 2020.