Lately designers have been looking to museums and galleries for inspiration explaining why their latest designs are full of historical references. Recently everything from jeans, skirts, jackets and shoes have been covered in embroidery – winter has never looked so stylish!
Jimmy Choo’s creative director Sandra Choi is influenced by what she calls the “hard lushness” of antique military regalia, from embroidered insignia to fur plumes and multibuckled, over-the-knee boots. “Watching War and Peace, I was drawn to the balance between the beautiful toughness of the military uniforms and the feminine draping of the women’s costumes. I love that tension and contrast. I call it sensual friction – velvet is sensual but also has military echoes.”
Christian Louboutin visits museums as part of his “creative mood gathering. I don’t immediately translate what I see but keep it with me so it can appear down the line in a different way.”
Gucci’s Alessandro Michele matches his eclectic, pearl-strewn Renaissance-meets-1980s dresses with art deco-influenced, suede and roccia snakeskin, an aesthetic he evolved last season and which, like most of his ideas, is proving influential. Nicholas Kirkwood has long used pearls hollowed into a high heel as a signature and this season makes them a bold statement, running a graduated row of aniseed ball‑sized ones around the heel of his loafers, the perfect balance of glamour and toughness. His inspiration is presumably early 20th century, rather than 16th, as the range is named Casati, after the pearl-wearing Marchesa.
“I have never felt so inspired as in St Petersburg,” says Edgardo Osorio, co-founder of Aquazzura, whose supremely rich and ornate autumn collection is titled From Russia With Love. “I wanted to convey the atmosphere of romance and grandeur without being too literal. Shoes have to be for life today so I picked wonderful details from the Hermitage – fabrics on furniture and clerical robes, Imperial jewelleryand military insignia, the colours of stones and subtle furs, marbles and mosaics.”
From Valentino’s couture celebration of Shakespeare’s anniversary, complete with ruffs, doublets and high-waisted gowns, to grandly braid-embroidered tailored military jackets at Roberto Cavalli and Andrew Gn , a strong vein of historic costume runs through this winter’s style. Yet the season’s ornamented shoes and boots are easier to meld into contemporary wardrobes; they signal fashion savoir-faire but will remain trophy items when the current yen for historicism fades.