AW21 highlights: Gucci x Balenciaga, Celine’s youthful parade, Michael Kors’ 40th anniversary collection, and Burberry’s ode to femininity


By Joan Kong

AW21 highlights: Gucci x Balenciaga, Celine’s youthful parade, Michael Kors’ 40th anniversary collection, and Burberry’s ode to femininity

With more and more brands announcing their decision to show off-schedule over the past year, it’s safe to say that Covid-19 has disrupted the fashion week calendar forever. Designers have spoken out about their thoughts on creating a more sensible circuit (the seven collections per year are not only wasteful, it’s also bad for business and disorganised).

This Autumn/Winter 2021, Celine, Gucci, Michael Kors, and Burberry are some of the fashion houses that have ditched the regular schedule (Gucci, for one, has committed to only showing two seasonless shows a year), and they’ve all presented their collections the past two weeks.

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This AW21, the work of three poets served as the main inspiration behind the collection. “Her gaze is like the gaze of statues” by Paul Verlaine; “my youth has been nothing but a tenebrous storm, pierced now and then by rays of brilliant sunshine” by Charles Baudelaire; and “I alone have the key to this savage parade” by Arthur Rimbaud. With these words in mind, creative director Hedi Slimane continues his exploration of youth culture and presented a “utopian parade and melancholic daydream of youth interrupted”.

A continuation of the brand’s SS21 show in Monaco, the collection featured looks that are laidback yet confident. Straight-cut jeans, bomber jackets, and casual knits built the foundation of the ensembles, contrasted with high-shine sequinned separates, tweed jackets, and bell skirts. Finishing off the get-ups, were a slew of cowboy boots that’s been given a Gen-Z take.


Dubbed the Aria collection, Gucci latest show marked the brand’s 100th year anniversary, and to celebrate, the designer had his sights set on the past and future.

The past: Michele paid homage to the House’s legacy by incorporating references from the previous designers. There were Tom Ford’s sex appeal aesthetic (cue the whips, the lingerie as outerwear, and the piercings); the Gucci Flora prints from Frida Giannini’s era; and the “Savoy Club” words that are an ode to the founder Guccio Gucci’s stint as a bellboy at The Savoy Hotel back in the 1900s. The looks were all pulled together by the brand’s equestrian heritage, with trademark references including horse bit harnesses, and riding hats and boots present throughout.

The future? Gucci’s team-up with—or in Alessandro Michele’s words, hacking of—Balenciaga. The exaggerated, almost avant garde-like silhouettes proved to be a nod to creative director Demna Gsvalia’s style, whereas elsewhere, a slew of looks—from short pantsuits to both Houses’ signature bags—were emblazoned with a mashup of logos. The ending featured models walking into the ethereal Gucci Eden, providing us with the escapism that’s always appreciated in this current climate.

Michael Kors

Michael Kors celebrated its 40th anniversary with an AW21 show that’s a love letter to New York City—particularly, Broadway. At the Big Apple’s Theatre District, fashion big guns including Shalom Harlow, Carolyn Murphy, Helena Christensen, and Naomi Campbell strutted down the street as singer-songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright performed a medley of classics, from City Lights to New York State of Mind.

Collection-wise, The looks were the epitome of opulent simplicity. Clean, sleek tailoring kicked off the collection on a chic note, accented thigh-high slits and strategic cut-outs that turn up the heat. While the colour palette was mostly made up of neutrals, the burst of red and the slew of animal prints add that extra jolt of energy into the line-up. The finale looks featured sequinned maxi numbers that seal the show on an ultra-glamorous note. We may not be able to travel to New York right now, but count on Michael Kors to bring us on a fantasy night out.


Titled ‘Femininity’, Burberry’s AW21 collection is “a love letter to women and a celebration of their incomparable strength”. Inspired by his very own mother who raised him and his eight sisters on her own, Riccardo Tisci mentioned that the women around him have given him the confidence to express his own femininity. His first step? To shed archetypes and readdress preconceptions.

Like the Men’s show, the presentation was held at Burberry’s very own Regent Street flagship. Models strutted down the runway in an array of looks that doesn’t stray too far from the house codes. Trompe l’oeil prints and faux furs pieces were a subtle nod to the animal kingdom; its signature tailoring was given a power-women update with modern armour-like silhouettes; and there were a few gold lamé looks that aim to evoke the colour and patina of the sun—“the strength of feminine energy”, as stated by the brand.

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