Fash­ion takes a ski trip.

Clara Young on how aprèsski style has snow­balled to in­clude denim and streetwear touches.

ELLE (Canada) - - Insider -

in all but the most charmed lives, things go down­hill some­times. Fash­ion’s down­hill tra­jec­tory is not so tragic—if only be­cause we are talk­ing about “down­hill” of the ski­ing and snow­board­ing va­ri­ety. It con­jures up lovely, cheer­ful things like cham­pagne pow­der and bunny slopes. “We love to snow­board mostly; it’s fun­ni­est, and you get so much adrenalin!” write style schussers Dean and Dan Caten of DSquared2. The Twins of the Great White North have, at long last, pro­duced their in­au­gu­ral ski­wear col­lec­tion. And be­cause the Catens are Cana­dian, DSquared2 ski­wear is, of course, the de­fin­i­tive word on all things snowy and stylish.

Ski clothes didn’t start out fash­ion­able. When pop­u­la­tions be­yond the Nordics caught on to the sport in the ’20s, it was woolly and long-skirted. And very brown. There were ex­cep­tions: De­sign­ers Lu­cien Le­long and Madeleine Vion­net took on ski­wear in the ’30s, as did Her­mès and Jean Pa­tou.

Syn­thet­ics cheered things up on the slopes with colour and curves. Ger­man man­u­fac­turer Klaus Ober­meyer made quilted parkas with bright, snappy-hued ny­lon outer shells. A few years later, so did the French brand Mon­cler. At around the same time, Willy and Maria Bogner, in Mu­nich, in­vented ski­wear’s iconic tight, stretchy stir­rup pants.

The clas­sic ski­wear ver­nac­u­lar was born, but it took Emilio Pucci to freestyle it. Pucci was an aris­to­crat, de­scended from one of the old­est fam­i­lies in Italy. He was also a dev­il­ishly good skier and a member of the Ital­ian Olympic ski team. Bored with the Old World, Pucci showed up one day on the slopes of Mount Hood in Ore­gon in 1937. He en­rolled at Reed Col­lege and be­came the school’s ski in­struc­tor. He fash­ioned the team’s par­al­lel turns to per­fec­tion and, in­evitably, their uni­forms too. Though a fash­ion

au­to­di­dact (he did his mas­ter’s de­gree in so­cial sci­ence at Reed and also stud­ied agri­cul­ture in Athens), he was a dab hand at de­sign­ing ski out­fits. An Ital­ian fash­ion photographer saw one of Pucci’s suits at Zer­matt in 1948, and the rest is his­tory. The sight­ing snow­balled into Pucci’s first col­lec­tion—with the bless­ing of Harper’s Bazaar editor Diana Vree­land. She dug the slalom­ing swirls and pop­ping colours, which later be­came the hallmark of Pucci’s silk-jersey dresses.

In def­er­ence to the mas­ter, Pucci’s new­est cre­ative di­rec­tor, Mas­simo Gior­getti, has taken the la­bel to the back­coun­try. Turtle­neck sweaters and puffy coats sport images of soar­ing snow­capped peaks. It is the stuff of heli-skiers’ dreams, the pris­tine slopes as splen­did and awe­some as the ones in bergfilmes— the Ger­man moun­tain films so im­mensely pop­u­lar in the 1920s. In the mys­tic, fog-bound glory of these films, di­rec­tors like Leni Riefen­stahl and Arnold Fanck showed men con­quer­ing moun­tains. But the moun­tains con­quered the climbers too, hon­ing and test­ing their char­ac­ter with ice, snow, rocks and treach­er­ous head­walls. The sil­ver-foil jack­ets, ski-boot clasps and col­lid­ing shards of alpine graph­ics at Pucci ex­press this moun­tain­ous will to power. So do the flaglike colour block­ing and Olympic-speed-skat­ing suit.

Ski­ing and moun­taineer­ing are also the themes of Lon­don de­signer Sadie Wil­liams’ Off Piste col­lec­tion, but the tone is nos­tal­gic rather than heroic. Shown against a painted moun­tain back­drop amid slalom gates were Wil­liams’ sil­vered leathers, old-time hik­ing boots, vin­tage Olympic graph­ics, Lurex stripes and quilt­ed­ny­lon dirndl skirts. Her patch­work kilts have alpine-cabin ap­peal. “I came across these great old pho­tos of my par­ents on a ski­ing hol­i­day when they were a young cou­ple,” says Wil­liams. “I loved that they seemed so happy and care­free and were mix­ing sporty quilted ski­wear with their own clothes and scarves in checks and tar­tans.” The wardrobe she de­signed suits cozy Cortina, not glitzy Gs­taad.

Gs­taad, St. Moritz and Breuil-Cervinia are DSquared2 ter­ri­tory and, in­ci­den­tally, where the Catens go snow­board­ing. While Wil­liams and, to a lesser ex­tent, Gior­getti have used ski memes in ev­ery­day clothes, the Catens have done the re­verse. They built their first ski­wear line around a no-no on the slopes: denim. There’s noth­ing more gauche than schralp­ing the gnar in a pair of soggy Jor­daches, one would think. Yet Dean and Dan beg to dif­fer. They would have us at Courchevel 1850 in mac jack­ets (fur-trimmed) and ripped jeans (stretchy, with wa­ter­proof lin­ing). “Denim is ver­sa­tile, sporty and glam­orous, and at the same time it is part of our DNA,” they say. “We are de­sign­ers, and we love snow­board­ing, even ski­ing. Who bet­ter than us to cre­ate a ski col­lec­tion?”

The Catens are bring­ing Cana­dian smarts to ski­wear be­cause fash­ion wants in on the eter­nal duel be­tween man and moun­tain. The trend isn’t après-ski­wear with a mug of Ir­ish cof­fee in your hand but clothes that look like you can send it straight to Gucci plateau—or know what that means. The look calls for Jean-Claude Killy ski sweaters, like the ones at La­coste, J.W. An­der­son and Off-White, or a vel­vety La­coste track out­fit with zigzaggy skiers on it. Fash­ion’s go­ing down­hill, but, for once, that’s good news. n

De­signer Gi­ambat­tista Valli brought the slopes to the run­way at the Mon­cler Gamme Rouge fall/win­ter 2016 show.

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