There’s nothing like a lockdown to get your creative juices flowing, is there? It’s a good thing, too. Because across the globe, brand directors and fashion designers have spent the last year facing an unprecedented challenge. How, in this strange new world, should they be adapting and altering their best-laid, best-made plans?
For some, it’s been easier than others. And Tod’s, the iconic Italian fashion house, has so much experience and wisdom under its beautifully burnished belt that creating a timely AW21 collection proved a cinch.
This week, we asked Tod’s Creative Director Walter Chiapponi to talk us through some of the key pieces, styles and looks from the brand’s newly released AW21 range — and asked him: What were the main challenges of designing a collection for this brave new world?
“Firstly, understanding my own passions and weaknesses,” says Chiapponi. “And trying to unify my different passions: of man and nature, of cinema and arts — and of a sense of lifestyle.”
Below, Chiapponi takes us back to the cutting table — and explains his process and reasoning behind the recurring themes and motifs of Tod’s AW21.
Longer coats have swept into Tod’s AW21 collection
We all like a long coat. There’s something theatrical and dramatic about the way they hang. For AW21, Chiapponi incorporated longer pieces of outerwear into the collection — alongside shorter jackets with four pockets, to resembled classically masculine suiting.
“The duffel coat,” explains Chiapponi, “is designed to fit very well — but is loose at the same time. The structure is very fluid, boxy-loose and relaxed. As for the trench, the idea was simply to create an elegant, stylish piece of outerwear.”
Bold, bright knitwear makes an appearance (and a statement)
We’ve seen a pivot towards homelier, comfier clothing since lockdown — and Tod’s AW21 collection will bring yet more sweaters and knitwear into the mix.
“The yellow college sweatshirt,” says the designer, “has the ‘T Timeless’ logo on it — which didn’t use to be obviously recognisable. But it’s a symbol, so it feels quite aristocratic. It was easy to use obsessively everywhere because it emphasises the chic approach of this collection.”
A rural, countryside aesthetic offers a new look for Tod’s
Wellington boots, flat caps and quilted jackets may not be quintessentially Italian — but Chiapponi cites countrywear as the epitome of relaxed elegance. As such, he decided to incorporate many rural styles into the new collection.
“We’re staying at home a lot,” he explains, “but my research is focused more on refinement and elegance than streetwear. We wanted a theme of man living in the natural world, with different patches on his jackets, different fabrics, camouflage, typical outerwear designs — but broken down to make these a structural part of the item.
“The rain boots,” he adds, “are another witty and ironic element of the look. They represent leisure time and the time spent outdoors — and are ideal for a walk in the countryside.”
Wider lapels, heels and flares speak to a 1970s influence
The new AW21 range from Tod’s feels like it contains many ‘sub-collections’. There’s the country capsule above, and the bold knitwear selection — but also a notable retro thread running through the pieces. Was it Chiapponi’s intention to channel the vintage style of the 70s?
“Definitely,” he says. “We have loose, flared jeans, denim-style shirts in ribbed velvet and a cowboy influence — all included in order to have this witty and ironic approach to life in the seventies. We also have the ‘T Timeless’ logo again, which was importantly made at the end of the 70s.”
The huge range of different fabrics and materials stands out
From corduroy to tweed — and almost everything in-between — Tod’s AW21 collection is a textured treat. But why did Chiapponi believe each of these disparate textiles warranted its own time in the spotlight?
“We started with a bourgeois, gentleman’s world — very Italian, very countryside. The first part is a mix of knitwear, all fabrics look like knitted fabrics, tweed. This is the only section of the collection where we have emphasised tailoring — albeit mixed with cardigans which are overlapping, to give a sort of grungy, more relaxed attitude.”
“In the first and last scene of the video above, the look is the same. But the jacket and the coat are worn showing the reverse side. So we have this sort of dandy, elegant world — but mixed in with the relaxed attitude of the 90s.”
Want more AW21 collections? Church’s latest range of footwear takes inspiration from the auction house…
Become a Gentleman’s Journal member. Find out more here.