Masters Of… Modern Heritage
As the designer Yves Saint Laurent famously said: “Fashions fade, style is eternal.” Whilst trends may come and go, it’s the classic foundations of our wardrobe that we keep returning to time and time again. Moreover, as we look to shop more consciously, we’re favouring timeless investment pieces; those heritage classics and the houses who are delivering them.
With this in mind, we’re spotlighting the superbrands who have reinvented themselves across the decades, whilst also identifying the emerging powerhouses who are earning their status as heritage names of the future.
Established Heritage Icons
When we think of heritage, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta and Versace instantly spring to mind. Season after season, these labels reinvent the traditional codes of their rich legacies to bring them fashionably into the present day, ensuring they’re always one step ahead of the game.
The aforementioned sartorial visionary started his label in 1961, introducing luxury ready-to-wear via the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche collection which revolutionised the fashion industry. Five years later the seminal ‘Le Smoking’ suit was born, delivering an empowering narrative for women everywhere. The rest, as they say, is sartorial history…
Cut to 2016 and Belgian-born designer Anthony Vaccarello takes the helm, pushing the French powerhouse firmly into the future with clarity, determination and sex appeal. Delivering the epitome of Parisian sleek every season, each of Anthony’s collections are a sophisticated tribute to the city and the Saint Laurent atelier, reimagined through a modern lens. Coupled with the house’s inventory of timeless investment-worthy mainstays (including the coveted Saint Laurent Loulou Bags) Vaccarello’s vision ensures that one of fashion’s brightest stars will never dim.
Bottega Veneta has been epitomising Italian craftsmanship since its inception in 1966. After taking the reins as Creative Director in June 2018, Daniel Lee’s name has been on everyone’s lips, championed as the boy wonder of fashion who has preserved the refined DNA of the heritage house whilst adding his own irresistible allure. An alumnus of Phoebe Philo’s Céline, Lee took over Bottega and answered the prayers of Philophiles everywhere with his impeccable nouse for modern, minimal and sophisticated pieces.
By reinterpreting classic looks, Daniel always keeps it fresh. Case in point: the brand’s signature Intrecciato weave which has been enlarged and made oversized for a more fashion-forward aesthetic. Now every contemporary sartorialist has Lee's sandals and bags in their Wishlist. When all-round style icon Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is your die-hard fan, you know you’re doing something very right.
Unsurprisingly, Bottega’s SS21 collection was heralded as one of the standouts of the season, which saw Daniel return to the importance of human touch whilst the fashion industry went digital. To top it off, despite being one of the most Instagrammed names in fashion, the house went against the grain and deleted its entire social media. In the age of Instagram, if that doesn’t reaffirm the unstoppable power of Bottega, we don’t know what will.
“I am not interested in the past, except as the road to the future,” Gianni Versace once stated. This progressive approach to his craft paved the way for the enduring legacy his brand has today. After debuting a couture line in 1989, Versace’s fame grew far beyond the fashion world and into popular culture, becoming synonymous with powerful women, epitomised by his cast of runway supers.
Upon his death in 1997, Donatella was left to continue her brother’s legacy. As his muse, she was a true style icon in her own right; his biggest fan and his most valued critic. 20 years after his passing, she continues to honour her brother’s vision through unapologetic collections of avant-garde designs.
From the controversial dominatrix look, which Donatella herself debuted in the early 1990s, to the iconic Medusa which adorns distinctive accessories, jewellery, homeware and shoes; the house’s daring, sexy and glamorous codes stand the test of time.
We’re forecasting a very fashionable future for newer names Jacquemus and Khaite. Whilst young in industry terms, these forward-thinkers have already reached cult status worthy of becoming the heritage houses of tomorrow.
Does anyone remember life before Jacquemus? Because we don’t. At just 19 years old, self-taught designer Simon Porte Jacquemus launched his eponymous label as an ode to his late mother.
Taking the world by storm, Jacquemus quickly rose to fame, becoming a social media phenomenon due to Simon’s playful, boundary-pushing approach to French fashion, the brand’s sublimely curated Instagram feed, and unforgettable, ultra-grammable shows (we’re still dreaming of frolicking in fields of lavender and wheat). Not forgetting an ever-increasing celebrity following which includes the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Kylie and Kendall Jenner, no less.
Each deconstructed, surrealist and romantic collection reflects an honest and personal narrative that’s close to Simon’s heart. Sartorialists are drawn to the child-like free spirit and infectious sunny disposition embodied by the brand, as well as its modernist approach to womenswear which favours body inclusivity. Toteable icons such as the beloved Jacquemus Le Chiquito mini bags and Le Ceinture belt bags have cemented its founder as the leading designer in covetable accessories.
The LVMH Finalist of 2014, Special Jury winner in 2015, and recipient of the 2017 Fashion Director's Choice Award at the Elle Style Awards, Simon is undeniably holding the fashion elite’s attention. This tastemaker will go down in history as having changed the landscape of French fashion forever, both now and in the years to come.
Whether it’s their effortlessly sleek wardrobe fillers which embody a signature sensuality, their beautifully crafted accessories, or that Katie Holmes ‘bradigan’ moment; there are almost too many reasons to love New York-based Khaite.
Since 2016, the label has been reimagining archetypal American style through the lens of the 21st century woman, focusing on the juxtapositions between structure and fluidity; classic and modern; masculine and feminine. The result? A rotation of enduring wardrobe foundations. “At the heart of Khaite is the concept of building a truly transitional wardrobe with robust yet polished pieces that can go with you, through your day, your trip, your life,” founder and Creative Director, Catherine Holstein explains.
Therefore, when it comes to Khaite, timeless style really is as easy as one, two, three… One: add a Khaite top. Two: slip into a pair of Khaite jeans. And three: don the look all season long and way beyond.
Words by Sophy Davis Russell
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