There was a glint of genius in Pablo Coppola’s context-setting question for this collection, which ran: “What will the bourgeois woman in 20 years’ time want to wear?” Why genius? Well, the bourgeois woman of today is wearing a ’90s-touched but ’70s-heavy constellation of signifiers upgraded by the appropriation of post-sportswear streetwear. So it follows that a woman 20 years on will wear something heavily touched by whatever hindsight dictates is now—right now—in 2015/16, shot through with a lot from the ’90s and made relevant by technology and trends that we can’t even begin to anticipate.
Were Coppola able to answer his question he would have discovered the Holy Grail—fashion’s Flux Capacitor—a way to short-circuit the self-referential cycle of retrospection and push on into Where We Really Are. The essence of Now. So, did he?
It would, of course, be impossible to be truly sure, but this didn’t look like a bad bet. A double-breasted shirtdress, full length in heavy silk crepe, bore the six-buttoned imprint of functions past—about as useful as an appendix yet reassuring somehow—in a fundamentally minimal garment. The cream suiting had a flecked rustication to its finish—Coppola said the intention had been to ape the raggedness of a toile but made ready-to-wear. Not in the lookbook but well worth a look were silk-mix bombers in olive and blush pink with cutely pop-openable backs to flash the spine, that ideally genderless, post fourth-wave feminism erogenous zone.
There were foulard prints and hand-finished fringing and suspiciously perfect “moth holes” that were all inserted to heighten the sense of a garment crafted by hand. Next to the main collection, workers from Bally’s recently acquired exotic leather atelier had been brought in to emphasize this still further. Inauthentically, however, their day-to-day tools had been confiscated for being too aesthetically unpleasing. One poor chap was heating his edging iron on a scented candle instead of a Bunsen burner.
The testing is now complete at Bally: It is time to go from beta to full-release. Coppola has found his stride, and the 164-year-old Swiss brand’s new David Chipperfield retail proposition has had a year to bed on Bond Street. It will be rolled out in 12 international locations over the next 12 months—first stop, Los Angeles. With collections such as these to fill them, Bally’s new stores will feel relevant in 2016. And perhaps in years hence, too.