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The return to the nature of fashion brands in the SS22 season

After the soft aesthetics of resorts, brands return to dream of wild and pristine beaches

The return to the nature of fashion brands in the SS22 season After the soft aesthetics of resorts, brands return to dream of wild and pristine beaches

After Prada, which set its most recent show on the beaches of Sardinia, 1017 Alyx 9SM and Matthew Williams, in the final act of Paris Fashion Week, also shifted their gaze to the Mediterranean. The 41 looks of the SS22 collection of the brand born in New York and then moved between Italy and France, together with its founder, were shown to the spectators against the background of the beach of Stromboli, Sicily. The location is quite unusual for the brand, which had accustomed us until now to decidedly industrial locations filled with cement and steel, but the change is more welcome given the season and, above all, the way in which the black volcanic beaches of the Aeolian Islands frame a collection composed of monochromatic designs, which further refine Williams' design language that is minimal, aggressive and Helmut Lang-esque at the same time. However, the way in which the Mediterranean is painted remains noteworthy: no longer as a nostalgic resort destination or symbol of a simple and opulent life, but as a mirror of an uncontaminated and "brutalist" nature in which to immerse yourself and to get back in touch.

Brutalist seas

After years of painted carts, town squares with old men playing cards, geraniums and procacious women in lace or polka dresses, Williams' Sicily is almost refreshing and shows that the Mediterranean aesthetic still remains attractive for fashion even if its main spokesperson, Jacquemus, chose to set his show in the mountains this summer. Among the recent collections that had the Mediterranean as a backdrop, there was, in addition to Prada, also the last show of Rick Owens' "Venetian chapter", held on the beach of the Lido; the capsule co-signed by Lacoste and Julien Boudet and also  part of the lookbook of Loewe's SS22 collection. If anything can be seen, compared to the "Mediterranean" collections of last year it is perhaps an evolution of the visual language of this aesthetic: if a brand like Jacquemus in recent years had embroidered on a fresh take of the classic maritime-summer iconography, the designers of this season turned for their shows on the one hand to an almost brutalistic reading of the uncontaminated nature of seaside resorts.

Williams spoke to the press about a «telluric force» and «elements» of the island, its fauna and flora that, in some cases, almost resemble the Iceland chosen by Saint Laurent for its women's collection a few months ago. The video of Williams' collection seems shot with a 16mm film from an old family film, has a surreal, hypersaturated, vaguely sci-fi quality, even among the figs of India, and actually wants to tell an impervious, but also monumental, almost titanic nature. It is a new "rawness" of the softer Mediterranean aesthetic explored last year by Chanel and Jacquemus, but also in the years since the campaigns of The Attico, Bottega and Jil Sander. We are no longer seeking mediation with nature: we want to dive into it all whole, without the filter of commodities or civilizations, with all possible realism. If the first wave of Mediterranean aesthetics bet on the size of the experience and pointed to the new luxury goods in the elementary but infinite concepts of space and time – the appearance of this aesthetic in 2021 went even deeper, discovering the sea as a dive into a craggy nature stripped of the signifiers of luxury but also irresistibly down-to-earth and realistic.