Movies are always a great inspiration for Alessandro Dell’Acqua. For his No. 21 men’s collection, he looked back at one of his all-time favorites, the controversial Querelle, the last film directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder and released posthumously in 1982 after his tragic death. Adapted from Jean Gênet’s 1947 novel, its dark homoerotic subtext is still a touchstone of gay iconography.
“I wanted to express the idea of masculine fragility and the eroticism and ambiguities of male camaraderie,” said Dell’Acqua. It’s an interesting and rather complex topic, one well attuned to today’s conversations around gender stereotypes, identity, and sexism. The designer addressed it from his creative perspective, working on a collection “free of fashion classifications,” as he said. Here that meant free from too obvious sportswear references, as well as from a deliberate jump on the tailoring bandwagon.
Eroticism and ambiguity often go hand in hand when it comes to seduction; these elusive attitudes were translated by Dell’Acqua in a delicate, tasteful take on masculine tropes. Classic blazers in wool grisaille were worn over layered tank tops with plunging necklines, exposing metallic chokers on bare skin; boxy knitted cardigans were needle-punched with wispy chiffon; and high-waisted tapered trousers were cut in black cotton lacquered to a vinyl-glossy finish.
Sportswear accents were diluted into an elegant, streamlined outerwear proposal, where silhouettes were clean and almost minimal, the cuts unfussy and precise. The eccentric flamboyance of black lace and animalier prints was kept well in check, reduced to a few eccentric innuendos. Yet a shiny, padded black bomber jacket was provocatively worn off the shoulders over a pristine and very masculine white poplin shirt and a bourgeois black tie, revealing a zipper at the back that can leave the torso free once undone.