Whatever the X-factor may be that enables a designer to electrify a heritage house with something that’s both true to their identity and crackling with zeitgeist-leading fashion energy, Nicolas Di Felice is channeling that rare super-power at Courrèges. Few designers today have the conciseness and clarity to work new silhouettes the way he does. Fewer still know how to purpose his level of Parisian sophistication to encompass a worldview that’s as young, sexy, and democratically-focused as his.
‘Simplicity’ has been a watchword at this round of shows. Di Felice’s black and white collection sort-of fell into that category only for the fact that he’d started by taking oversized school uniform generics—shirts, white tees, polo shirts, a Harrington jacket—and reconstructed and twisted them into leggy, asymmetrical shapes. “I’m always talking about being practical and technical when it comes to making clothes—that’s what I do every day,” he began by explanation. “But at the beginning of the season I start to set the universe, the story. This time it was like that feeling of the last day of school before you go off for summer. So at the beginning of the show, it’s the archetypes of varsity and college things because we’re still on campus.”
He claimed the construction of these short, casually torqued looks was “really easy to do.” Well, maybe if you’re that fluent as a designer, it might be. But Di Felice has been practicing, developing his ideas for Courrèges for three years now, vibing off the founder’s modernist space-age ’60s and ’70s archive and melding in his own rave-biker memories and sensibilities to huge success.
His sense of styling—how items break down and fit together—is a great part of that. Take his ‘elliptical’ skirts and diagonally-slashed biker flares, again a deceptively simple merge of Di Felice and and André Courrèges’s geometric design methods. “Everything comes from the shape of the circle, the ellipse, which is really cool, and quite André, I’d say,” Di Felice offered.
He cut a mean, long-stemmed fitted tailored coat with fluted sleeves and a buckled neckline: minimal French chic, epitomized. Later, the show tended towards a look of tunics over pants—part Courrèges, part ’90s, maybe, yet completely fresh and directional. Geographically, spiritually, Di Felice had a particular destination on his mind. His tribe of school-escapees were off to the desert, to join some sort of camp—maybe a cult of believers in astral travel, aliens or whatnot. A couple had 3D-printed bras; others artfully slashed, harnessed ‘naked’ dresses.
Then, funnily enough, the ground literally did move. As the models stalked the perimeter of a flat, sand-and-plaster quadrangle—Di Felice’s ‘desert’—the surface began to pop and crack before our eyes. A seismic fashion happening? If there’s a quake of significant talent on the way, Di Felice is clearly in its vanguard.