Leandra and Harling Discuss Fashion’s Most Underrated Season

Leandra: HEY! Happy resort season. How have your market appointments been going? Have you seen anything you absolutely ~lurve~?

Harling: Resort season’s greetings to you as well! Right now I can’t stop thinking about Rosie Assoulin’s collection, which I saw yesterday afternoon at Raquel’s Dream House in Soho. Every season her clothes look utterly different and yet somehow comfortingly the same. They really hit the nail on Man Repeller’s proverbial “fashion can be seriously good and seriously fun” head. I’m especially excited that straw picnic baskets finally have an exciting replacement: SILICONE picnic baskets.

Leandra: Remember when Man Repeller’s tagline was “A humorous website for serious fashion”? Those were cool times. Did you have a nice time in Arles when you went for Gucci? It was a big travel season! Chanel and Dior in Paris, Louis Vuitton in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Gucci in Arles. And the shows/appointments/presentations here have been much busier than in past seasons — no question a function of the way the fashion calendar is changing. A lot of designers (Rosie included) are opting out of showing in September and instead presenting those collections (would-be Spring) between now and couture in July and then just shipping in two installments to satisfy the drops for both Spring and Resort.

Harling: Attending the Gucci show in Arles was totally surreal. It was my first time traveling somewhere far away for a show and thus a pretty significant learning experience about what that entails for a brand like Gucci. It was a huge production from top to bottom — everything from the guests’ experience to the location itself — (the runway was literally on fire!! There were ancient sarcophagi! Elton John played the piano!) was executed so thoughtfully. I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and work it took on behalf of their team. I didn’t realize Rosie’s Resort presentation was in LIEU of showing this September, though. That’s so interesting. Why do you think more designers are opting out of the traditional fashion calendar (and seemingly focusing more effort/marketing/money on Resort)?

Leandra: Well, Resort definitely remains on sales floors the longest without needing to be marked down (the collections deliver between November and December and don’t go on sale until the end of the season in like, May, whereas spring ships in February/March and then goes on sale two months later), but from a purely subjective perspective, too, there’s too much noise around the September (and February) shows — it’s expensive and kind of obnoxious and you don’t really get a chance to absorb the fashion because there is so much. Clothing has to be precious, right? Especially high-end clothing. In order to justify the price point, you need to feel like you’re part of the brand, an experience, like you are making a delicate decision that will somehow impact your relationship with self and the world around, but the fashion week cycle has sort of made every brand feel a little more like a throwaway obligation to keep up with if you’re either into fashion or work in it. That’s purely my opinion, though. Do you find yourself more compelled by Resort fashion than any other season, and if yes, why?

Gucci Resort ’19

Harling: Yeah, I’ve actually been thinking a lot about this (particularly in the context of Gucci, since that show, for obvious reasons, left the biggest impression on me). Resort definitely seems to be one of the more WEARABLE collections, which makes sense financially if it’s going to be on sales floors the longest. Brands want people to actually buy, not just ogle. For example, with Gucci, there were tailored blazers, puffer jackets, plaid suits, pastel mini dresses — stuff that has very practical appeal displayed in a very impractical (yet utterly delightful) setting. In that sense resort collections are kind of the inverse of Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter because they present wearable pieces in magical contexts whereas Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter present more avant-garde “show” pieces in a more standard runway context, so it’s no wonder they’re more exciting. It’s the ultimate combination of commercial and thrilling.

Rachel Comey Resort ’19

Leandra: That’s a really fair point! Do you prefer the presentation format to the show format? I went to see Victor Glemaud for example and found that being so close to the clothes made a difference. I still got to see how they move because the models wearing them were interacting, but relative to a show format like that of, say, Rachel Comey (which I did not attend; the show was in LA), that still delighted and surprised in that special Comey way…I don’t know, in pictures on Vogue Runway, it’s more fun to see editorial lookbook shots than it is a runway shot! Speaking of Victor Glemaud, I know you’re working on a story about jellies, and there were so many jellies in attendance at VG! Also, is it just me or is sailing THE NEW COOL THING (i.e. at Altuzarra)? Amelia is going to shit herself, I hope not in the office bc I sit so close to her.

Harling: I’m so torn by the presentation-versus-show question. I love the drama of shows and the intimacy of presentations. I guess I prefer to have a little of each because I’m a millennial and life is my salad bar. I’m so glad you brought up Rachel Comey though because that’s been one of my favorite collections. I really want to wear over-the-knee boots with hot pants and a sheer top and a huge coat. Who knew!

Leandra: Speaking of metaphoric salad bars, I have such a soft spot for outfits that make no sense but which you can’t unsee upon contact. Big ass jacket with tiny slip dress à la Louis Vuitton? I AM ALL IN. Life is your salad bar. What other trends are you finding? I think neon is really going to happen.

From left to right: Eliza Doolittle, Gucci Resort ’19, Christian Dior Resort ’19

Harling: Neon is going to usurp pastel, which I’m ready for. I actually had a trend revelation when I was looking at Gucci and Dior. Both collections included what I’ve privately started calling the “Eliza Doolittle effect” i.e. midi-length dresses complemented by fitted blazers and short brim hats.

Brock Collection Resort ’19

Leandra: Can I interrupt for one second to bring to your attention the physical manifestation of Amelia? I don’t know why I keep bringing her up, but feel like she’s going to go bankrupt when so many Resort collections start to deliver. This from Brock is her! Actually I’m not interrupting because it’s also very Eliza Doolittle! Ugh though, fitted blazers. I don’t know if I can get behind this quiet trend coming in like a lamb but sure to leave like a lion. I’m very much about a non-skirt skirt and alt. jean jacket though.

Harling: You’re right that Brock look has Amelia Christina Diamond written all over it in permanent marker, and yes it also reeks of Eliza Doolittle essence. I can’t wait for us all to look like we stepped out of an Edwardian period drama this November.

Leandra: Did you see the Edwardian vibe anywhere else?

Harling: Not off the top of my head (keeping eyes peeled, however), but I did see a ton of this very specific shade of blue. I’m not sure what to call it. “Instagram-filtered sky”?? And on the other side of the Edwardian spectrum, lots of mini skirts and dresses paired with oversized jackets with cocoon-y sleeves.

Leandra: IT’S CERULEAN BLUE. Speaking of cocoon sleeves, here’s one of my favorite outfits from the season. It’s also an example of good model casting as far as pairing a face with a look. She makes a very put-together outfit feel slightly more approachable? Cool?

Tibi Resort ’19

Harling: A testament to how much the nature of your hair part (messy? straight? to the side? down the middle?) can impact a look. Back to your point about sailors though, I definitely agree. I loved the first look at Chanel, especially the boatneck sweatshirt. Are those becoming a thing?? You have a light blue one that I love from Creatures of Comfort!

Leandra: Oh yes, middle-part hair is very fashion. Boatnecks might become a thing! They’re more satisfying to wear with chokers, and we’re an office full of fashion stranglers if you know what I’m saying. What’d you think of Sonia Rykiel? Know you are a fan!

Harling: My main takeaway from Sonia is that I will absolutely be stringing a cardholder on some bungee cord and wearing it around my neck. Should we talk about how many bucket hats were sitting on top of people’s heads this season? Is that trend about to die or just getting started?

Leandra: Yeah! I am all about the bucket hat. As evidenced by Man Repeller’s commitment to it. I think that trend is pretty much Copenhagen’s fault.

Sonia Rykiel Resort ’19

Harling: Or the fault of menocore and this scene in Something’s Gotta Give. Two questions for you before we wrap up:

1. Given that the actual product offered in Resort collections has diverged from the original narrative it was intended for (Resort is no longer strictly summer/vacation clothing), do you think the fashion industry should drop the outdated term “Resort” and replace it with something that makes more sense?

2. With the fashion calendar all up in the air these days and brands like Supreme finding so much success releasing product throughout the whole year instead of on a strict calendar basis (thus procuring constant cash flow and uninterrupted excitement!!), do you think more brands should ditch the status quo and start releasing product in “drops,” hypebeast-style?

Gabriela Hearst Resort ’19

Leandra: My answer to question #1 IS question #2! I don’t know WHY it’s taking so long, but calling collections “drops,” or giving them esoteric titles tied closer to the theme of the collection (if there is one, e.g. “Deranged Gardener, Chapter 1” for a collection full of ripped rubber smocks), seems like a much better bet to troubleshoot against a Spring collection maintaining only winter clothes (because the collection comes out during the winter anyway) or having a dated season, e.g. Resort, that doesn’t actually exist anymore lose its purpose entirely. What do you think?

Harling: I think we’re inside a really interesting period wherein the human hunger for newness (spurred by our tireless news cycle and the ubiquity of social media) is outpacing the human ability to keep supplying that “spark,” which is what’s causing so much burnout of late, especially in the fashion industry. So I don’t think designers need to scramble to answer to that hunger by creating more collections necessarily, but maybe more brands should start thinking smaller in terms of quantity (a collection can be fewer than 20 looks and still be deeply satisfying) and bigger in terms of how the clothes are presented to consumers (a surprise album-style drop, different packaging, a social campaign, a new collaboration, etc.). Those are just some thoughts I’ve been marinating on, though. Maybe the real solution to all of this is more silicone picnic baskets.

Photos via Vogue Runway and Getty Images. Feature image from Louis Vuitton Resort ’19 via Peter White/Getty Images.

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