Smart Move[s]

Mon­cler breaks away from the sea­sonal run­way model to launch its Ge­nius pro­ject. By Noreen Flana­gan

Fashion (Canada) - - The Market | Moments -

It’s a good thing I’m not claus­tro­pho­bic. Yet. But as the crowd closes in around me, squeez­ing me against the sil­ver tented wall out­side Craig Green’s col­lec­tion for Mon­cler’s Ge­nius pro­ject, it crosses my mind that I could be tram­pled. I’d be­come a fash­ion vic­tim. Lit­er­ally. My eyes lock with those of the se­ri­ously in­tense se­cu­rity guard, who is at­tempt­ing to usher some of the horde into the tented space be­hind him. He must sense I’m a) get­ting a lit­tle anx­ious or b) about to be crushed, be­cause he sud­denly reaches through the throng, grabs my hand and pulls me in. “Mille gra­zie,” I say. I think to my­self, “This is more than a fash­ion mo­ment; it’s a full-on fash­ion scene—an ex­pe­ri­ence.” And that’s the point.

Ear­lier that week, Remo Ruffini, Mon­cler’s chair­man and CEO, de­clared that the fash­ion show was dead. In­stead, the lux­ury brand opened Mi­lan Fash­ion Week with the launch of Mon­cler Ge­nius—a cap­sule-style ap­proach in which col­lec­tions will be dropped monthly from June un­til De­cem­ber. In ad­di­tion to its in-house team work­ing on Mon­cler 2 1952 (its main line) and Mon­cler 3 Greno­ble (its tech­ni­cal ski gear), the brand hired Valentino’s Pier­paolo Pic­ci­oli, Si­mone Rocha, Craig Green, Noir’s Kei Ni­nomiya, Frag­ment’s Hiroshi Fu­ji­wara and Palm An­gel’s Francesco Ragazzi to cre­ate their own takes on the com­pany’s iconic puf­fer jacket.

“I have con­ceived the Mon­cler Ge­nius pro­ject as a creative hub able to rein­ter­pret the spirit of Mon­cler go­ing be­yond the con­cept of the sea­son,” Ruffini said later via email, adding that the launch party at Mi­lan’s newly ren­o­vated Palazzo delle Scin­tille was meant to be an emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence.

It’s def­i­nitely emo­tional. In­stead of a run­way show— where you take your ap­pointed seat and watch pas­sively as the mod­els walk by—guests can ran­domly wan­der from tent to tent to view the dif­fer­ent col­lec­tions. Like in an amuse­ment park, ev­ery­one—in­clud­ing me—is drawn to the one with the long­est lineup. In this case, it’s Green’s sci-fi Miche­lin Man uni­verse, where the mod­els are wear­ing looks that re­sem­ble hu­man life rafts. In the cen­tre of the room, there’s an art in­stal­la­tion with two ver­ti­cal col­umns of in­flat­able tubes that are pump­ing up and down and emit­ting a sound that re­sem­bles an as­tro­naut’s heavy breath­ing.

“Ideas of pro­tec­tion and func­tion­al­ity are at the heart of what Mon­cler is and some­thing I have al­ways ex­plored in my own work,” the Bri­tish avant-garde de­signer ex­plained. “Pro­tec­tive forms, life aids and hu­man life rafts are all ideas I ex­plored in this col­lec­tion, along with the bal­ance be­tween solid forms and an idea of light­ness.” (If you’re not plan­ning a lu­nar es­cape, the pieces he cre­ated for mar­ket are more street than ab­stract.)

While Green looked to the fu­ture, Pic­ci­oli was in­spired by the Ital­ian Re­nais­sance, in par­tic­u­lar the pu­rity and shapes of the madon­nas at that time. “For me, pu­rity means some­thing that is close to the essence of things,” he ex­plained. “When you solve the com­plex­ity of things, you ar­rive at the sim­plic­ity. When you take every­thing out, what you get is more. Pu­rity is when shape re­spects the essence.”

Af­ter the crush at Green’s tent, I even­tu­ally make my way to Pic­ci­oli’s tran­quil space. The crowds have moved on to Si­mone Rocha’s tent, and I some­what mirac­u­lously have a few mo­ments to my­self. The room is filled with Pic­ci­oli’s evoca­tive “puf­fer nun” man­nequins. (It’s the cape that our cover model, Maartje Verhoef, is wear­ing.) The room is softly lit, and the walls are adorned with works by monk-turned-artist Sidi­val Fila. It’s a serene and in­ge­nious end­ing to my jour­ney into Mon­cler’s Ge­nius new world.

Mon­cler 5 Craig Green and Mon­cler 3 Greno­ble

Mon­cler 2 1952 and Mon­cler 6 Noir Kei Ni­nomiya

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