PARIS, France — In today's uncertain economic and political climes, the realities of commerce and the bottom line are never, ever far behind the decision-making processes of fashion businesses. This has seen many brands change tack this season: a slew of men's collections have merged into the women's calendar, catwalk shows switch to static presentations, and a general air of tightened belts (read: budgets) has descended upon the industry.
That said, the search for the aspirational and experiential 'Instagram-able' moments shows no signs of slowing, and houses are relying more and more on the visual universe surrounding their garments rather than (necessarily) the flair of the pieces themselves.
This was partly the case at Berluti on Thursday evening, another label functioning sans creative director, at least for the moment. With departing designer Alessandro Sartori warming up for his Zegna debut, the design team eschewed their usual cocktail and runway show for a garden party extravaganza on Paris’ left bank, transforming the gardens of an 18th century school for the deaf into a bourgeois Spring fair.
Whilst models played petanque and swung hula hoops wearing naught but micro swimming trunks, the collection itself hung in discreet white vitrines — the pieces artfully arranged in a soft sunset palette from dusty desert reds through to a tonal range of poolside blues.
With Berluti’s origins in artisanal footwear and LVMH heir Antoine Arnault himself its current chief executive, their raison d’être will never edge close to fashion revolution, chiming instead on a discrete luxury wardrobe and an unfussy silhouette catering for the gentleman whose summer social calendar may gyrate between the golf course and a gala luncheon. And what better to conquer those in than the perfect sky blue suede blouson, or the house’s iconic patina-effect shoe transplanted on a rubber sole? Here that same weathered gradient came airbrushed across backpacks and smart trainers, which alongside the evening’s shenanigans signalled a more youthful approach to the brand’s otherwise sedate, sartorial image.