In June, Paul Andrew staged his first standalone men’s show at Salvatore Ferragamo. The Florentine house had, conveniently, just funded the restoration of the Fontana del Nettuno on Piazza della Signoria where the show took place, casually backdropped by the Palazzo Vecchio. In sartorial Florence, more so than in trendy Milan, Andrew was able to clarify his intentions for Ferragamo. He did so with a collection that illustrated his preference for the classic, the mature and the bourgeois, and left a big void of the streetwear codes similar luxury houses are adopting. “I’m so appalled with the state of menswear today,” he said back then. “If you look around in luxury designer stores, all you find is hoodies, jeans and T-shirts with logos emblazoned on them. That’s definitely not my approach to bringing Ferragamo forward in its menswear. For me it’s about a newly relaxed ease in tailoring. I think the secret is not looking at what every other brand is doing in the market right now.”
The womenswear collection he presented three months on, in Milan, was rooted in those same principles, but this time Andrew couldn’t resist referencing the utility codes native to a lot of those logo-emblazing streetwear designers he otherwise wishes to contrast. “I’ve taken those workwear classics – a dungaree, workwear shirts, workwear shorts – and elevated them in leather or luxury cotton-twill fabrications. People do want to look casual. That’s why this sportswear thing is so big. But at Ferragamo it needs to be done in a luxurious way.” Classics with a twist, as retro fashion literature would have it, has been an unstoppable force since Phoebe Philo was at Céline. Now, her former right-hand man Daniel Lee is carrying on the baton at Bottega Veneta subverting those twists to new heights, and with its similar noble Italian leather-based heritage, Ferragamo could be a contender to that same throne.
Unlike Lee’s visual field, however, Andrew is careful not to cross the border into avant-garde land where twisted classics become confrontational or provocative. As exemplified in today’s collection – through sculpturally knitted or cut backless knits and coats, tucked-up skirt hems, and a baby blue boxy trouser with a magnified gathered waist – his take on similar uniform codes is expressed in twists that disrupt the normal but rarely venture outside the realm of practical and traditional. It results in a direction entirely different to Lee’s but one that might appeal to a more conventional consumer segment. As far as sales go, Andrew was happy. “Absolutely. Numbers are really good right now. We’re in a unique situation in terms of other fashion brands,” he said.
From British Vogue