Review of fashion show no. 21 spring 2023
By Markus Wittmer
While sex may be a difficult subject to grasp in today’s fashion landscape, Nº21 Creative Director Alessandro Dell’Acqua is certainly not afraid to share his vision of it, and his Spring 2023 collection reflects his penchant for rich, sensual fabrics and revealing silhouettes to serve that vision.
Impressively balancing daring and sophisticated, the sparkle sparkled while opulently devoting itself to playful provocation.
The sense of sparkling ballroom elegance lent by crystal chandeliers to the house’s dedicated exhibit area in its headquarters was offset by an eclectic soundtrack that weaved together Florence + the Machine, Nat King Cole, Pat Benatar and Rage Against the Machine. It was a fitting juxtaposition for a collection that infused opulent evening wear or business-minded power dressing with an unmistakable sexiness.
Outer layers like sheer slip dresses or blazers could hardly contain the va va voom of bright red silk underwear peeking out underneath. As if their straps had just returned from a cocktail party wardrobe rendezvous, straps are falling off the shoulders and shirts buttoned all wrong. The latter’s allusion to pervertedly subverted office wear is definitely reminiscent of recent Miu Miu collections, but the motif is firmly executed in Dell’Acqua’s own handwriting.
Rather than resisting this sassy sexuality, the attention to intricate craftsmanship actually supports it, and the two work together to suggest a type of woman that is opulent and indulgent, yet powerful (in the sense of both wealth and physicality), sensitive, and intellectual. Delicate floral lacework overflows and blurs the lines of silhouettes; Sequins and embroidery enchant the eye; chunky crystal necklaces exaggerate the sense of glamor in almost every look.
In many ways, it still feels like fashion is attempting to relearn female sexuality: while most designers and labels have thankfully moved away from depicting women’s bodies as sex objects, many of them, when designing for a, have been unable to do a similar one Capturing Sparks Self-determined sexuality that’s more about how a woman feels than how she looks.
Not so with Alessandro Dell’Acqua: while these women certainly look good, their looks – while certainly not for the shy – are full of power and sophistication. In this context, the show also deserves praise for the age range of its cast, which challenges the notion that only pretty young things can be playfully provocative. Daring is all too often labeled as ‘trashy’, but even if that aspect of the daring is exaggerated here, so is sophistication and taste: a delicate balance that Nº21 has captured impressively.