It would be no understatement to say that Valentino designer Pierpaolo Piccioli’s puffer-coat gowns for Moncler (designed in collaboration with Ethiopian label Lemlem) should be on display at The Met. The extravagant pieces cascaded from the shoulders down, a vision reminiscent of Valentino’s Spring 2019 floral dresses.
Bringing in the patterns Liya Kebede’s label Lemlem, artisan seamstresses from the model-designer native country helped create the pieces. In an interview with Vogue, Piccioli said, “I love the idea of celebrating craft and giving these women the opportunity to work. I wanted to recreate the Lemlem fabrics in nylon. I think that if you talk about something like this—a new perspective—it is very good.” But it was more than very good.
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“I was honored to be a part of this creative process, bringing together heritages that at first glimpse seemed so different but when unexpectedly combined, create something so rich and new, redefining beauty and reminding us that there are no borders in life,” Kebede said in a statement. And, as Moncler’s geniuses have shown us, a puffer coat has no bounds.
Moncler’s Genius project celebrated its third edition with a massive Fall 2019 presentation in Milan that featured 10 designers. While the multi-pronged show was an elaborate affair, the project’s purpose is simple: a group of hand-picked designers selected by Moncler CEO Remo Ruffini are given free rein to reinterpret and reimagine the basic puffer coat. This season, London designer Richard Quinn and 1017 Alyx 9SM’s Matthew Williams joined returning designers Piccioli, Simone Rocha, Palm Angels’ Francesco Ragazzi, Fragment’s Hiroshi Fujiwara, Moncler Grenoble’s Sandro Mandrino, and Moncler 1952’s Sergio Zambon.
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The Milan show was, in a word, epic. There were dogs in jackets—Dalmatians and dachshunds, to be exact—lots of smoke from a fog machine, and many, many bottles of prosecco. The curated rooms reflected the aesthetic of each designer, from Rocha’s birch-tree-and-wool-balaclava haunted forest to Williams’ tactical jungle gym. The collections were each their own sort of frenetic dream with signature touches from each designer, like Quinn’s penchant for wallpaper-esque floral patterns. But the standouts, in our opinion, were Piccioli’s resplendent gowns with Lemlem: The patterns recalled African textiles, and the colors were bold and vibrant, like a bright-orange and pink version that felt like a sherbet sunset.
For the Moncler Genius presentation as a whole, Paper posited the question, “Was Moncler Genius the Most Innovative Show of Milan Fashion Week?” and it’s not a stretch to say that it was. Who knew the utilitarian puffer coat could singlehandedly reinvent our idea of what fashion is?