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The renaissance of Mediterranean aesthetics

The quiet escapism of the summer holidays

The renaissance of Mediterranean aesthetics  The quiet escapism of the summer holidays

The smell of the bougainvillea in bloom, the sound of the waves of the sea in the distance, the taste of a ripe tomato, the coolness of the wind at sunset when the sun sinks into the horizon. These are just some of the elements of the Mediterranean aesthetic that are the protagonist of Chanel's video "Balade en Méditerranée" by Massimiliano Bomba at the digital presentation of the brand's Cruise 2021 collection. The video shot in Capri - where the physical presentation of the collection was supposed to take place, cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic - is a celebration of the Mediterranean summer: a palette of sensations that easily connect to the blue of the sea, the green of the pines, the white dirty with salt of the plaster of the sea houses, the condensation on the glass of white wine during a summer dinner. It is a familiar and delicate aesthetic, a particular type of escapism aimed at pure pleasures and sensations, almost childish, started as a visual trend on Instagram and that today many fashion brands are discovering aligning even on an aesthetic level to the change of the very meaning of luxury. 

Before Chanel, the brand that has made Mediterranean aesthetics its creed is Jacquemus. From the SS19 show set on the beach in Marseille to the iconic show-anniversary Le Coup de Soleil for the SS20 collection in the middle of a lavender field in Valensole, Provence, Simon Porte Jacquemus has shaped his brand around this set of summer sensations that find body in the garments that echo its muted colors, relaxed fit and innocent sensuality of the skin discovered. Most of the brand's signature campaigns also take over the Mediterranean Sea in the locations and moods, but of course many other brands have used this aesthetic in a different way. From The historic first Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue commercial starring David Gandy, to The Attico's SS19 campaign, through Jil Sander's SS20 shot on the island of Milos and Sicily. Bottega Veneta in the countryside of Tyrone Lebon also offers a more luxurious interpretation of the seafaring aesthetic, removing the patina of genuinity in favor of luxury yachts that evoke Hollywood hedonism in the photos of the paparazzi of the early millennium. 

The difference between Jacquemus and all the other brands mentioned above lies in the importance that the French brand places on its Instagram profile, which is together a moodboard of the brand, promotional platform and personal instagram and whose same aesthetic is communicated in a more direct version and suitable for social. In fact, like every visual trend of recent years, the Mediterranean aesthetic was born and developed mainly thanks to an ecosystem of Instagram pages that synthesize this mood in photos of beaches and marine scenarios, architecture of simple houses or luxurious resorts and dishes of spaghetti sea view. The most famous - recently emerged thanks to Chiara Ferragni - is @italysegreta, a collection of photos of hidden corners in Italy, among aperitifs on the terraces of Panarea up to the natural baths of Saturnia. A mood that lingers on the naivetè of Italy of the 50s and 70s, a place already frequented by the international jet-set but still intact in its identity, not devalued by the massification of tourism nor committed to chasing the myth of modernity. It was Jacqueline Kennedy's Capri, Brigitte Bardot and Gigi Rizzi's Saint Tropez, the French Riviera and the Aegean populated by the yachts of the Onassis, the Agnelli and the Al-Fayed from whose trampoline overlooked melancholy Lady D.

The other Instagram strand linked to Mediterranean aesthetics instead uses architecture or food as a means of synthesis. @elegantheather and @dream_casa post photos of summer houses: white, vast spaces and muted colors dominate in spacious terraces that house flush pools, often overlooked by flowery canopies and flower pots. It is a precise architectural aesthetic that respects tradition in materials (living rock for example) but manages to integrate it with more modern lines in favor of simplicity. The @_____CV______ account instead posts photos of enchanted picnics in the middle of fields, rustic aperitifs at sunset, fresh fruit breakfasts aesthetically arranged on an immaculate tray. In both cases the escapist element consists of a "return to nature": what the spacious seaside villas, the sunny Mediterranean landscapes and frugal foods symbolize is a more genuine and, in some ways, more carnal life, made of simple and immediate pleasures and characterized by freshness - freshness of water, colors, food.

Returning to Chanel's "Ballade en Méditerranée", it's no coincidence that this aesthetic has made the leap from brands such as Jacquemus, Jil Sander and Bottega Veneta, towards the luxury commercial mainstream. The motivations are varied, certainly the current historical moment pushes all the creative industries to produce content that makes dream of a reassuring world, made of simple and nostalgic sensations of childhood and sea life – a world curiously opposed to that of the big city, industrialism and small holidays. It is a change in the line with the transition from Old to New Luxury: the promise that Chanel makes to its consumers does not focus on the opulent product, on the apparition and belonging to the social class normally associated with luxury, but instead on a type of simplicity that until a few years ago was popular and that instead has now become luxury , where the most precious goods become the elementary but infinite concepts of space and time.