2018 has brought a wave of obsession with futurologies: the cosmic, the never-before-seen, and the impossible. Between Gucci’s baby dragons and Dolce’s drones, designers are desperate to establish the next frontier. However, Italian designer Vivetta Ponti’s approach to contemporaneity is one explicitly situated in the past, which made her AW18 collection feel all the more refreshing.
As more and more luxury brands move toward unisex design, Vivetta’s approach toward reversing centuries of gendered signification is feels unique. While many designer’s non-binary utopia is one in which the distinction between mens- and womenswear is eradicated, Vivetta’s is the opposite. Her hyperbolic approach to feminine silhouettes – and femininity more generally – is an undoing rooted in overdoing.
Vivetta’s heavy-handed designs may initially seem exhausting. In this season alone, the collection featured just about every traditionally “girly” colour, texture, fabric and graphic imaginable, paired with ’80s stiletto mules, cat eye sunglasses and new romantic style gloves. But there’s power in the overemphasis; the hyperperformance of gender, much like in drag, draws attention to how arbitrary the binary truly is. Her maximalist approach to femininity creates an almost carnivalesque atmosphere. The lips, hearts, bubbles, bibs, aprons, lace, bows, polka dots, florals and embroidery are tongue in cheek, mixing irony with romanticism.
This season’s inspiration came from what Vivetta’s self-appointed golden era: Rome in the ’80s. For Vivetta, the decade’s overblown sartorial style was typified by the style of Italian writer and TV personality Marina Ripa di Meana, whom she grew up watching. Despite being situated in an idealised time and place, the collection is by no means nostalgic. Vivetta’s contemporaneity isn’t up for debate; her innovative and playful approaches to silhouettes are avant-garde. This was evidenced by her fearless reinterpretation of the ’80s polka dot, crushed velvet, and the extravagant rouching. As Milan Fashion Week came to a close, Vivetta’s show reminded us yet again that unapologetically feminine style can still make a statement.
Vivetta’s past collections have frequently drawn on the idea of childhood innocence through pretty and playful designs; this season, Vivetta looked forward. While other designers approached the idea of the future from a more acute angle, Vivetta did it in a way that was relevant to the brand’s identity, using “bambolina” tropes to reconfigure what it means to femme in 2018. In short: Vivetta AW 18 reminded us that potent feminism can still be pretty in pink.