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At Moncler Genius, a Symposium of Cultures

By Bianca Husodo

 
Moncler 0 Richard Quinn Fall/Winter 2019

To British designer Richard Quinn, more is more. For his debut collection with Moncler, the maximalist meshed together an assorted clash of psychedelic prints with silhouettes of the ’50s and ’60s: rainbows spelling “Moncler” on puffer coats and puffer thigh-high boots; blown-up daisies vining up a leopard print bodysuit and helmet; cocooning coats tangled in the prints. These were presented in a dome with wall-to-ceiling floral and foliage motifs — a wickedly brilliant jungle for the madcaps.

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Moncler 1 Pierpaolo Piccioli Fall/Winter 2019

Trust Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli to birth a collaboration within a collaboration. Working together with a friend — model Liya Kebede, who is also the designer behind her sustainable and socially responsible label Lemlem, produced by artisan seamstresses in her native Ethiopia — Piccioli’s presentation was a melding of three identities: his own poignant couture showmanship, Moncler’s technicality and Kebede’s offsetting touch of human craft.

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Moncler 2 1952 Fall/Winter 2019 (Women)

Veronica Leoni, one of the Moncler Genius’ new names introduced this season, previously worked under Phobe Philo at Celine — a creative offspring of what’s now colloquially dubbed as Old Céline. At her new post as the womenswear creative helm of Moncler’s poptastic subline, 1952, Leoni steered away from the clean, modern tropes she was accustomed to for a conceptual, fast-spinning take on what Moncler should be. “Moncler Genius stands for an eclectic, transversal, fluid way of doing fashion; the ultimate goal is being unique while in full consonance with the multifaceted touch of its philosophy,” Leoni says.

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Moncler 2 1952 Fall/Winter 2019 (Men)

On the menswear end of Moncler 1952 is another relative unknown: Sergio Zambon. For his inaugural outing, the former head of menswear at MSGM and Acne Studios instilled it with what he dubs the modern unruffled spirit. “Since the first season, my approach has been to rework the heritage of Moncler related to youth culture and its realness. Realness of an icon translated and evolved through the support of youth mixed with my passion for contemporary art, music, travels. 2 Moncler 1952 this season has a very contemporary laidback vibe for people who enjoy nature close to big cities. Cool climbers of XXI century with a perceptive behaviour”, explains Zambon.

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Moncler 3 Grenoble Fall/Winter 2019

At the vault of Grenoble, Sandro Mandrino — described as “a functionalist with a twisted imagination” in Moncler’s statement — reframed the archetypal notion of high-performance skiwear with the late ’60s handcraft appeal. In its essence, mountain gear for the festival-goers. “The mountain is where Moncler Grenoble belongs, which means that performance is focal. I stuck to the brief in terms of fabrics and shapes, but went the opposite way in terms of treatments, opting for tie-dye, fringes and patchworks that have a crafty feel. Still, you can ski in these,” says Mandrino.

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Moncler 4 Simone Rocha Fall/Winter 2019

For her third collection with Moncler, Irish designer Simone Rocha was thinking about nature and the great outdoors. Inspired by the notion of protection, the models traversed through a haunted silver birch forest in voluminous silhouettes extracted from tenting and blankets, taking form as a cohort of broderie anglaise capes, which Rocha calls “a uniform for nature”.

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Moncler 5 Craig Green Fall/Winter 2019

Central to Craig Green’s third Genius proposal is travel and lightness. Devising gigantic garments made of a sum of light modules that can be folded, all of Green’s pieces can be transformed into compact, packable squares. At the Monler Genius House, the British designer’s installation was a reflection of the amorphous nature of his vision: nylon became coats, coats became boats, boats became planes.

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Moncler 6 1017 Alyx 9SM Fall/Winter 2019

Distancing from the streetwear tropes he’s become synonymous to at Alyx, Matthew Williams championed grit technicality, debuting complex knitwear and garment dying to Moncler’s down-filled outerwear. Alyx’s signature rollercoaster-belt fastening, too, made appearances as chain belts strapping puffers, fastened by a carabiner. “With my collection, I wanted to attempt to create products that Moncler has yet to make, as well as have a true marriage of the 1017 ALYX 9SM and Moncler aesthetics,” affirms Williams.

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Moncler 7 Fragment Hiroshi Fujiwara Fall/Winter 2019

Ever the cultural agitator, Hiroshi Fujiwara turned the ordinary into the cult for his Fall/Winter ’19 instalment for Moncler, where an amalgamation of vintage, military, urban and tech made for a curious jumble of functional staples. “Moncler Genius is the opportunity to mix different identities into a new one. It allowed me to test solutions and materials I have never used. The result is an unreleased Hiroshi, but it is also an unreleased Moncler”, says Fujiwara.

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Moncler 8 Palm Angels Fall/Winter 2019

“I started with the idea of a vandalized art gallery. The purity of the lines and form are abruptly challenged. For me Moncler is about the simplicity of a product that comes to life in many forms. I wanted to break that form,” says Palm Angels’ Francesco Ragazzi, who linked up with Austrian artist Willi Dorner on an interactive installation. Within his vault was a button where guests could press to spray paint unto a line of metallic puffer ensembles — a nod to Jeff Koons’ unmistakable sheen — riotously vandalising, Ragazzi hopes, in the same punk sensibility he tapped into for his collection.

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One year after its inception, the ambitious Moncler Genius extravaganza — a massive ongoing project involving a series of high-profile designer collaborations — returned bigger for its Fall/Winter ’19 edition. For one, the Genius family has expanded: British designer Richard Quinn and streetwear savant Matthew Williams of Alyx are fresh faces to the roster, which includes recurring collaborators Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli who roped in Ethiopian model and designer Liya Kebede to work together this year, Craig Green, Simone Rocha, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Francesco Ragazzi of Palm Angels among others.

According to Remo Ruffini, Moncler head honcho, the Genius is the Italian skiwear house’s thoughtful riposte to the speeding up of the digital era; it’s “a symposium of creative minds and an inspiring place,” says Ruffini in a statement. An increase in both variety and frequency, collections from the Genius hub are slated to drop every month, year-round, to satiate shoppers in search of newness at the speed of Instagram.

Staged last week in the winding tunnels under Milan’s central railway station, each of the nine creatives was provided with a vault and free rein to let erupt their reinterpretation of Moncler into grand scales. Above, a visual tour through the maelstrom of eclectic visions at Moncler Genius.