The word minimalism has suffered from a severe case of overexposure in fashion parlance, so much so that it has morphed into meaning something almost impersonal. Most of the time it doesn’t adequately express the complexity—in terms of both concept and execution—of the creative process that lies behind the clothes to which it refers. This applies to the work of Gabriele Colangelo, whose reserved, discreet manners conceal a refined sensibility and quiet determination. His clothing, consistent over the years, perfectly reflects his attitude: At first glance, you just see sharpness and clarity—clean lines, rigorous structure, a restrained palette—but a closer look reveals a compelling depth and intricacy. This was expressed in Colangelo’s Pre-Fall collection, built around elaborate research into innovative materials: overprinted and “scratched” velvet jacquards; masculine wools bonded in oxford cotton; thick satins washed and bonded; embossed chevrons; laser-cut velvets reapplied on techno cady; mohairs coated with transparent polyurethane…the list goes on.
Despite being so technically elaborate, the lineup seemed effortless and organic thanks to skillful control of silhouettes and volumes. The shapes revolved around the trapeze and the rectangle; a sportswear feel was achieved through a special stitching technique used for ergonomic high-performance garments. Asymmetry added a touch of lightness, as in a short dress in pinstriped wool with a structured, couture-like draping on just one side. A voluminous full skirt in Japanese silk, woven in a vintage obi-inspired abstract pattern, was also cut with an asymmetric hem—worn with a deceptively simple bicolored cashmere sweater (which was knitted with a spiral-like technique), it added a feminine feel to a thoroughly épuré look. And talking about deceptive, is not fur—Colangelo’s family business—the most sensual of materials? And how does it fit into such restrained vision? It was obviously treated with the same relentless, experimental yet sensitive engineering process: Mink, astrakhan, and pekan (a precious kind of sable) were bonded in leather to achieve a weightless, supple effect. Pearl mink, three-colored fox, and murmansky were vertically sliced and chromatically reassembled in intricate yet elegant patchworks. Rabbit and mink were frosted and painted in an elusive cerulean shade that, in its gentle severity, perfectly summed up the mood of the collection.