Alessandro Dell’Acqua has a translation problem with his trend-centered brand. We silly Americans keep asking for “Number 21,” and getting a negative reply or getting the wrong store. This is not the same as the Forever 21 store in the mall. You see, one has to ask for Numero Ventuno. Think Italian. Okay, I’m assured the stores in the Midwest do answer the phone, “Number 21” now after people continually thought they were getting the wrong number. Still, one can understand the PR problem the brand has had in the US.
Dell’Acqua can be rather fussy about a lot of things and over the years he’s developed a reputation as someone who will quit a label, including his own, if he doesn’t like the way things are going. Around here, we call that being a bit of a diva, but in Italy it’s a more common trait and the designer goes off and starts another label focusing on trends and a more wearable product, which is what Numero Ventuno is meant to do. Yes, it’s still a luxury brand, most of us still can’t afford to hang much of it in the closet, but the designer is focused on keeping his finger on the pulse of fashion and, quite honestly, that seems to be working.
Well, okay, he didn’t really have to bring back the bows. I don’t understand the fascination with bows this season, I really don’t. At least Dell’Acqua keeps them on the shoes this time, but even then they really don’t match the Safari theme that dominates the actual clothes. Why bows? I really am at a loss to explain the gap in continuity here.
What he does with the clothes, however, is pretty cool. Unlike other outdoor-themed collections we’ve seen this season, Alessandro doesn’t stay too terribly long with that olive drab, cargo pocketed look that permeates the stereotype. Sure, he includes them in the first handful of looks, but then he goes on to do some really cool things such as taking a flannel design and making it sheer. Think about that for a moment. Sheer flannel. Totally cool look. Then, he takes that sheer flannel and puts it over a blue/green lace! The effect is surprisingly wonderful, and really does a lot to freshen up a theme that, to be honest, is as old and stodgy as one of Teddy Roosevelt’s stogies.
So, okay, one isn’t really going to wear any of these clothes while out traipsing around in the woods. If one is inclined to do such things one is going to need to shop elsewhere. What Dell’Acqua gives us, though, is a very fun, vivacious, and refreshingly new look on a theme that really, really needed this kind of touch put to it. So the designer is a bit of a diva from time to time. I think we can tolerate the attitude issues as long as he is producing looks as strong as these.
Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier