Contemporary Gets Loud About ‘Quiet Luxury’

Following the quiet luxury trend, contemporary brands are focusing on craftsmanship, more curated collections and emphasizing quality.

It was most evident in the SMCP stable of brands, Sandro, Maje and Claudie Pierlot.

The trio all emphasized their French roots and vision, with the Pierlot brand hosting an interactive tour of its Paris design headquarters. Guests were free to mingle with pattern-makers, cutters and tailors, as well as take in mood boards and walk amongst bolts of fabric. The brand showed its usual array of elevated essentials, and it’s doubling down on savoir faire with the launch of The Exceptions line. The cocktail-focused attire will be handmade in the Paris atelier with an eye toward the red carpet in Cannes.

Inside the Sandro showroom at Paris Fashion Week presentation with sculpture from Olga Sabko

Inside the Sandro presentation with a sculpture by Olga Sabko.

Courtesy Sandro

Sibling brands Sandro and Maje homed in on tailoring this season. Emphasizing artisans, Maje launched its first handmade skirt: a white mini in structured satin with embroidered organza flowers. The premium piece will arrive in about half of the brand’s doors, including flagships and key retailers such as Bloomingdale’s.

Sandro lined the interior of its headquarters in cream wool felt and installed pieces especially created for the presentation from Ukrainian sculptor Olga Sabko. It was more art gallery than past seasons that were overwhelmed with options.

Single-breasted suits came in camel and coffee, and the brand is using more cashmere and raw Japanese denim as it seeks to elevate the brand experience under new chief marketing officer Augustin Letellier. Denim was darker and straighter, in 100 percent cotton for more shape, available as suits, too.

At Margaret Howell, rigid denim was dark, wide and relaxed, and that was evident at Maison Kitsune, too, with darker denim colorways with a faint autumn leaf print.

Kimono-inspired look from Aigle Experience by Études.

Kimono-inspired look from Aigle Experience by Études.

Courtesy Aigle

Both MF Brands Group-owned Aigle and The Kooples have also upped their design cred. Aigle brought in the creative trio behind Études Studio three years ago to revamp its collection. This season, Aurélien Arbet, Jérémie Egry and José Lamali have taken it in a new direction, and will now head a seasonal capsule called Aigle Experience, which will allow them to put more creative focus on 30 key pieces.

The first capsule takes cues from the sleek utilitarian city wear of Japan. A key look was a padded wrap cape that recalled kimono sleeves, and the focus on textile tech resulted in some cool zip-top waterproof rain boot-slash-shoe hybrids.

Cutting back on the volume of designs — as well as bypassing men’s week in January with the Études line — is part of their overall aim to upscale Aigle and concentrate on craft. By focusing on less product, the designers could go deeper into elevated pieces.

Better curating of the collection was key for The Kooples too, with Pierre Kaczmarek taking his first turn as creative director. He’s taking the brand back to its rock ‘n’ roll roots. It’s not quiet luxury per se, as some of the pieces are intentionally loud and fun, but Kaczmarek is reducing the number of skus and upping the quality of the materials. To wit, the brand collaborated with Harris Tweed for tartan pieces. Plaid suits, pleated skirts and checkered overcoats ticked the tailoring trend box without being too conservative or stiff, while Kaczmarek kept the signature studded leather jackets and added tracksuits and expansive faux furs for an indie sleaze-meets-mob wife vibe.

A look from The Kooples by Pierre Pierre Kaczmarek

A look from The Kooples by Pierre Pierre Kaczmarek.

Courtesy The Kooples

That TikTok micro-trend hasn’t yet hit its stride on the high street, though hints of Western, currently seen on the runway, were peeking through in Sandro’s steel-toed footwear.

Études launched its shoe collaboration with Veja during the week, which reinterpreted the brand’s famous V as an E in additional logo play.

Footwear was key at Maison Kitsune, too, with the brand launching its first solo collection. The brand’s fox logo morphed into a swoop for the shoe, while the canine logo came in new iterations on prints on button-down shirts and sweatshirts.

The brand looked to Japanese sportswear of the ’80s with a vaguely gym-class feel on nylon jackets, while Longchamp pulled in the country’s more traditional shapes and flipped it with a kimono-inspired wrap jacket cinched with a snappy belt. The leather goods and handbag house leaned into the concept of wellness instead of pure athleticism this season, yielding a relaxed shape that was still sporty.

Japanese fabrics carried through to Prune Goldschmidt’s collection in a coated short and pant that conveyed a leather look but felt light and athletic. The French designer played with bold colors and lots of stripes in chunky knits in wool and alpaca. Key pieces communicated upscale utility, including removable collars and removable sleeves to transform a coat into a vest.

Chunky knits carried through the Margaret Howell collection in swaddling, comforting scarves and knitted hoods for men and women. She also added yak wool, reflecting how brands are on the hunt for new, more natural fibers.

Called acorn, moss, mocha and carob at Howell, woodsy tones were present in many collections, as were rust at Aigle and sunset hues at Maison Kitsuné.

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