“One of the problems of luxury in this digital moment is that it can become difficult to differentiate itself from mass market products because anyone with a budget can make a video where there is a nice product … and at this point there is a lot of cheating going on! Therefore, I thought it necessary to ensure that at least some people could do it tap clothes – although unfortunately not you. “So said Chris Van Assche during our review of Zoom, held (quite a long time) before today’s pandemic delayed live presentation (with real live audiences, who will be encouraged to touch the pieces) in Shanghai.
The projected image is one important factor in the clothing equation, while wear is another. Van Assche challenged himself and Berlutti’s Italian artisans to surpass themselves in work in this collection, working in partnership with Russian artist Lev Khesin, who said of his work: “Probably every viewer’s first question is,“ Can I touch a painting? ‘”
Khesin’s beautiful abstract pieces require to be felt with both the eye and the hand thanks to the painstaking process of applying the layers and then removing many layers of silicon and paint. Van Assche noticed a parallel with Berlutti’s famous application of many coats of varnish on shoes to create a patina, and worked to combine the two, challenging artisans to reproduce 10 Khesin works in the media, including a silk shirt, a fantastic mohair package and a hand-stitched embroidery on outerwear.
Another challenge posed by the designer was to transfer the Norweigan seam – through which the upper part of the Berluti was attached to the Berluti sole – to the confection, where he centered the piping in very cute quilted leather jackets and some casual but lavish checked track tops. As Van Assche remarked, “It’s important to maintain a craft, but it’s also important to stir things up a little from time to time, because sometimes a craft product doesn’t actually innovate itself.”
This, Van Assche added, was the first collection in his now three-year tour of Berluti in which this famous patina was successfully transferred from footwear to confection and an almost light finish on a polished leather jacket in a purple hue was proof of that. Broadly speaking, this Berluti collection felt the stroke of the wind in custom-made menswear. There was construction here, but in a “broken” suit clipped to allow movement and reflect denormalization, or as he remarked, “to get the beauty of dress, but not the rigidity that usually goes with it.” Double-faced cashmere half-suits that mix jackets and pants derived from workwear were another offer that was in keeping with the times.
As our Zoom drew to a close, Van Assche said he saw his role in Berluti as “giving the future to a historical craft” by acting as a catalyst through which that craft is provoked into new forms of expression. To my eye, this collection has finely demonstrated the power of these creative catalytic conversions between craft savoir-faire and cultural innovations initiated by designers. That audience in Shanghai will tell us if it’s equally dreamy to touch.