116: Red's redemption arc is a rainbow
Plus the SSENSE sale soups up discounts, Moda's very good Club Summer capsule, and Gucci Vault taps a new class of emerging designers.
As someone who speaks against rules in fashion as often as I feel I do, I’m suspiciously protective of the parameters I’ve set around myself for what I do and do not wear. Like red. It’s historically been “not for me” or “clashing with my coloring,” “too aggressive” or “too Christmas-y” (definitely sometimes true). The reality likely has more to do with turning the dial on visibility, grappling with attention, sense of self-worth, yadda blah. Sorry, not that those things aren’t real, it’s just this line of fashion psych 101 (or like, TikTok junk therapy) won’t be what’s on my mind when it comes time to actually put on clothes.
Lately, I’ve been finding a way into red through various color combinations that reframe it as something other than what I’ve cast out of my pool. Adventures in the SSENSE sale have left me fixated on the sublime styling of this Birrot set—an “air blue” column skirt against a merlot tank. Shooting with Nicole Steriovski last week, she suggested I throw a red Maryam Nassir Zadeh scrunchie on against a gray jacket (brilliant). Dione Davis and I, meanwhile, conceded to one another that a Comme Des Garçons dress dragged by the meme (?) account @messssense wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the unfortunate donut hemline, because red and pink are back baby! (The way this image had a hold of me in 2012…)
Full disclosure: I have not yet gone red. But I will! And I am shopping for my debut. These Commission pants, whose matching jacket I’ve posted about a few times, would be a firm entry, especially with a sleek black heel as shown here. Or maybe this Gimaguas lace skirt or its hooded top counterpart. This The Row sweater, based off (or at least definitely referential to) Margiela’s designs for Hermes might have been the red to start it all for me, with infinite styling possibilities, though this Lemaire knit might ultimately get more wear. This skirt for Plan C’s (from Carolina Castiglioni of the Marni family) new collection packs powerful color combos—and with sequins, too! But maybe the code for the safe is as 1234 as a cashmere tee from Auralee (or, alternatively, this Courréges baby tee).
I have a hunch this red thing isn’t just a me thing, though. I’m a sponge and a mirror, a metal pot scrubber, say, tumbleweeding in the breeze of social-visual change. It was red tights everywhere all winter, and now I look down at my toes and for the first time ever, they’re the oxblood of a Dynasty femme. Makes you think.
Send me your finest reds, please. I’ll be here plotting the summer of carmine, crimson, and cardinal.
For its High Summer release, Gucci Vault covers all of its bases, vibe-wise, with capsules ranging from Connor McKnight’s genderless knits that could uniform a sophisticate’s summer camp to Judith Leiber’s effervescent, glass-beaded clutches approaching “camp” at a very different angle. Agua Bendita’s contribution to the collection stands out in its uncompromising romance: flowers crinkle along the dramatic square necklines of hand-embroidered bikini tops, a botanical midi dress’ weightless puff sleeves connect at the sternum in a deep, bow-adorned V, and linen skirts drip with 3D flowers, each piece referencing specific plants native to the designers’ home country of Colombia.
In its latest swath of just-released pieces up for preorder at Moda Operandi, Bottega Veneta furthers the Intrecciato agenda with pieces that employ the technique in its classic leather, effectively setting the new standard of what Amy Winehouse would have deemed Fuck Me Pumps, but also by reinterpreting the brand-defining weave in different materials—a standout is this textured sweater knit in light-blue wool and crafted with the perfect proportions for a pull-over. Another reference to Bottega’s famed accessories finds its way into clothing via thick swoops of metal translated from the prolific Sardine bag’s handle into sculptural straps, supporting layers of suede draped into a dress with curves and folds that would make Bernini blush.
Moda Operandi introduced its seasonal “Club Summer” shop—a multi-brand experience that’s stuffed with urgently wantable pieces from lesser-known brands, many of which are exclusives (my tab situation right now is out of control): utterly diminutive shorts from High Sport (a first for them), a graphic-striped sun dress from Yaitte, a crocheted polo and handmade lace button-down from All That Remains. Plus new essentials from stalwart summer clothiers like this cleverly bow tied-together Rosie Assoulin midi apron dress, Agolde white denim shorts, and a droopy raffia hobo from Khaite. The girls that get it will find themselves extremely got here.
Between your Rohmer-summer fantasies and your Talented Mr. Ripley darker desires lies Toteme’s travel capsule, brimming with knowing, dynamic capsule pieces whose origins suggest vacation destinations themselves—a broderie Anglaise dress for coast and cocktails, polished cotton Bermuda shorts in energetic navy blue, a Breton-stripe tee, and an un-wrinklable Chinese silk slip skirt.
Camper’s winding rubber Kobarah heel was the price-accessible It thing since well before Telfar began throwing raves in White Castles. At $150 a pair, the snake-inspired design has slithered in and out of stock throughout the years, available only via scarce resellers during off-seasons. But, it’s back! And in two new colors: a slimy lime green and a baby blue that pits it up against the season’s other funky pastel footwear, Dries’ Virgo heel (which, at $645, simply can’t compete).
Beyond its attempt to harness the Wes Anderson-style video trend, resulting in a campaign mildly unnerving in its narrative aspirations, the Simon Miller x Mango collaboration is powerfully simple in its focus on gesture. From a fringy, drop-waist, columnar dress like an exclamation point to the off-kilter handle on a cobalt mesh purse, cartoonishly groovy striped platforms that curve with abandon, and a woven basket jangling with dozens of seashells, the collection buzzes with animating energy.
Following an abbreviated collection with Paris Georgia, SSENSE releases yet another “Work Capsule,” this time with By Far—the 15-piece drop contains croc-embossed leather totes, pointy slingback flats, and late-’90s grommet-heavy belts, all washed in yogurty pastels and chalky chocolates.
Wales Bonner has graced us with accessories in its summer lineup—the brand’s inaugural jewelry line, comprised of necklaces hand-beaded in Ghana, joins a handful of relaxed babouche slip-ons and sandals in solids and animal prints for a new entry point into the happy union of prep and loucheness that characterizes its clothing line.
New to the sartorial canon of thinkpiece-ily understated luxury tech is Extreme Cashmere’s 70% cotton, 30% cashmere blend, intended to be worn in warmer weather for the cashmere experience minus its usual insularity. Happily, the collection doesn’t just put all its eggs in the material basket, and pieces like a halter dress that ripples along the lower spine and a scoop neck mesh tank seem as if their gorgeous curves were calculated by some aesthetic geometer.
Wood Wood’s pre-fall ‘23 pieces include a striped alpaca sweater that could have been nicked from Marni but for its less-discouraging price point, a tank dress dyed to look like the surface of a pool on a sunny day and covered in obliquely scribbled messages you might have to buy it to read clearly, and a blood orange ribbed tee with proportions and drape special enough to justify its elevation to “top” status and interpolation into your matrix of “nice” clothes.
Sleeper hits pad the Holzweiler pre-fall collection, from a billowy, elasticized white dress with an interesting- enough construction to duck the Forever 21 vibes many such (reversible!) pieces emit to a black silk shirt with subtly petal-shaped cuffs., Bbut its most ingenious offering is a slouchy knit tank with a uniquely ovular collar and foggy blue slub knit, giving it a textured, weathered, dare we say pilly? character that will only look cooler with years of wear and washes.
The Loro Piana resort ‘23 collection is centered around a palette of warm, dusty oranges and olives straight out of Under the Tuscan Sun. As such, its silhouettes skew a little on the “Single Mom finds her joy again, dir. Nancy Meyers” side of resort wear, but in the case of pieces like this reversible, quilt-like, floral showstopper of a coat, that can be a good thing!
Zara’s Atelier 03 capsule goes buck-wild within the parameters of “skirt,” fashioning them out of patterned patchwork leather, ballooning taffeta, crystalline cascades of feathers, and jeweled scarves and pairing them with matching shoes.
There’s also: Sophie Lou Jacobsen introduces The Coral Collection, a charmingly lopsided glassware capsule designed in collaboration with Paris’ La Romaine Editions; the publication-cum-brand Hommegirls lines its menswear-inspired off-duty pieces up to J.Crew’s quintessential prep in a new collab; the bag twins behind Medea release a new VHS-like silhouette, the Toni; Miaou’s latest Le Mirage collection is for swashbucklers and sex perverts (complimentary); With Jéan’s “Louloúdi,” meanwhile, goes full baroque, down to the fully boned tapestry corset dresses; Liberty London lends its signature florals to Puma’s chunky sneakers and flared sweats; chunky sandals and neoprene-leather chimeras have Suicoke’s camping nerd charm and are decked with Toga’s literal, silver charms (and buckles); OperaSport’s Edition 13 has swimsuits with necklines askew, slip dresses that look like oil slicks—basically everything a character who followed Keanu from Point Break into The Matrix without a costume change could ask for; the only way to convey the vibe of Rox’s “Isolasian” collection is “imagine an anthropomorphic volcano who reads global accelerationist critical theory on their way to work at Cafe Forgot”; and House of Sunny’s swim capsule is fruity both in the kiwi-print sense of the word and in the female-gaze-y French cut bottoms and diamante details.
What’s on sale
The store née hospitality outfit Carmen Amsterdam puts to shame so many clothing boutiques that have just one job with its unmatched edit of Flore Flore basics (scored in exclusive shades), Moya jewelry, Saks Potts summer grails, and rare A.Roege Hove pieces. The entire site is quietly 20% off with FLASH20.
Mondays are actually a good thing during SSENSE sale season, because that’s when you can expect new additions to markdowns. I put on my little trench coat and cap and spent yesterday stalking deals from the shadows of the sale pages—real detective work—and found some things that might shock you: those Ancient Greek Sandals that look exactly like The Row Ginzas for $182, ballet flats from the actual The Row for $632, a Santangelo pearl-and-stone anklet for $167, an exclusive color of the MNZ Dance Pants for $173 (and those XXL shorts for $292), a hyper-lightweight Toteme polo for $217, a white denim maxi skirt from Dries for $328, and an ovation-worthy “paper” blazer by MM6 for $569.
Tory Burch’s underdog resurgence is just as evident in its seasonal sale as in its new collections. Discounted pieces range from straightforward winners, like a cherry red “cat eye” purse that makes it clear the brand’s target demo is now just as Rizzo as it is Sandy-coded (on the standard Grease axis), to genuinely random, you-have-to-see-it designs that somehow make sense in their gestalt, like a wool blazer with a detachable, cobalt blue, nylon hoodie, to pieces that already court canonization—maybe it’s a good thing Vivienne Westwood didn’t have to see her chokehold on the designer earring industry loosened by $99 glass orbs from a brand that used to uniform mainly sorority sisters majoring in poli sci.
The Brown’s Private Sale always feels like a best-kept secret, especially when held up against the light of the SSENSE sale that usually coincides. Discounts reach up to 60% right off the bat (and will continue to rise), and some of the best deals include Lemaire curved pants for $280, a Thom Browne wool blazer for $1,287, a Siedres mesh cardigan for $68, and Elder Statesman knit for $282, and a Reformation two-piece set for $113.
Unfortunate for the brand to be diminished to just this, but Dear Frances’ The Row mesh slipper dupes possess far more integrity than any old knockoff, all handmade in Italy of Italian mesh and softened leather. Available in black or white, they retail for $380 but are down to $304 in the brand’s sitewide sale with SPRING20.
LA’s Shop Nonna counts an at-this-point obligatory foundation of MNZ, Baserange, Paloma Wool, and Lauren Manoogian that’s come to be expected of boutiques of a certain sensibility (those that appeal to the Rachel Comey-outward radius), but can also be found scoring exclusives from smaller, highly hunted operations like 100% Silk Shop, Jamie Haller, E.M. Kelly, and Tigra Tigra. The whole site’s 20% off (automatically taken in cart), including sale.
Mara Hoffman’s sale section is an additional 25% off with MAY25, bringing so many stretchy, shrunken bodycon sets and dresses, unapologetically loud swimwear, and wedding-season fodder down to as low as the below-$100 range.
Our well-documented love of Simonett’s impeccably curated stock extends, of course, to its seasonal sale, a virtual reality in which a Simon Miller going-out top shaped like an X costs $90, ditto a Coperni Swipe ring, a Shushu/Tong dress that comes with a bustle is over half off and—sans detachable bib—is an incredible candidate for a sub-$1,000 wedding dress, and more such click-fodder abounds.
The Altuzarra private sale feels as if sprung straight from a collective childhood fantasy about how we’d dress when we became cool adults—off-the-shoulder cashmere sweaters, pleated silver gowns, purses with cheekily gratuitous buckles, and more pieces that feel “mature” as envisioned by someone who hasn’t yet been crushed by existential ennui.
Take an extra 20% off the Collina Strada sale section, where, as in a garden, there are butterflies (as built-in whale tails on bikinis), puddles (at the hems of low-cut flares), and ivy (-like, squiggly straps on asymmetrical gowns of silken “eco acetate”) with ILYSM20.
CUUP’s seasonal sale, on now, folds in swimwear, bras, underwear, and outliers, in more cuts and colors than you can keep track of—the natty wine orange undies and satin sets are among the best of the bunch.
The Maison Rogue spring sale reads like the wishlist of your most adorably dressed friend: a sheer, off-the-shoulder Christopher Esber top that makes the wearer look like a (hot) piece of chocolate baklava? Check. MM6 Mary Janes hewn in whisper-thin leather? Check. A satin Sandy Liang purse blooming with a sweet-but-subtle cartoon flower? Check, and almost $100 off.
The Mytheresa Sale takes up to 50% off an excellent selection in all categories, but its shoes read like a veritable political-alignment axis. Without assigning them any allegiances, it’s still easy to imagine a graph with endpoints at star-heeled, crystal-coated Mach & Mach heels, Chloé horse girl boots, chunky flip-flops from The Row, and shearling sandals courtesy of Marni.
If there were ever a failsafe guide to masc-leaning fits, it would look a lot like the Mr Porter sale taking up to 60% off a slew of pieces that could instantly catapult even the most college improv team sweatshirt-pilled dude to the zenith of r/menswear, with well-fitting Acne tees, Wales Bonner vests, and moldy-looking Margiela sweaters with built-in capes. Maybe that last one should be left to the professionals.
There’s also: The Nili Lotan sale is a trove of could-be-The-Row pants and jeans for prices that are akin to rounding errors on their more expensive counterparts; Madewell is 30% off across the board with WARMUP in case you need to stock up on tanks and, as I’ve discovered, pretty good pinky rings; Hydromocs and hiking shoes are 40% off at Merrell’s May sale; Shaina Mote’s “Rare Sale” takes 20% off everything in stock at the minimalist mecca; you can hear these wave-printed jeans in the Eytys summer sale; all of the swim gear at Solid & Striped is 25% off with MDW25; and everything in the Outdoor Voices summer sale is 30% off, including a ton of exercise dresses and skorts.
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With contributions from Em Seely-Katz
Social image from The Row