Sunnei Fall 2019 Menswear

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Sunnei’s Lors Messina and Simone Rizzo called their Fall effort their most personal yet. “This is the most intimate collection for us,” said Rizzo. “We started by looking at drawings we did when we were young.” “As teenagers, more or less,” added Messina.

Having launched womenswear last season, Sunnei is in full-steam-ahead mode—the brand operates one stand-alone store, in Milan, but has said it would like to have more, including in New York City. Small steps, though—today’s runway was evidence enough of Messina and Rizzo’s commitment to their vision. It was highly varied—at points too varied, but these were forgivable—and very much in line with the pair’s established aesthetic of relaxed unostentatiousness. Plus, it was their largest collection to date (it included the introduction of their own in-house sneaker), conveying that, as the company grows, Messina and Rizzo aren’t looking to make compromises. Think: no collaborations, and no interest in seasonal trends or hype.

What that means this season: an air of complex nostalgia, based off of an early-aughts rearview glance at the prior decade. An example of those abovementioned sketches, shown through a phone screen to this reviewer, depicted naif bumster pants and flared trousers; these were reinterpreted in denim and gabardine for both men and women. A jumper portrayed a pixelated meadow-and-cloud-scape; a dress had a print of tulips. Both seemed faintly recognizable—they were, in fact, the default backgrounds that came with the operating system Windows 98. Coats walked aplenty, in chenille or plasticized synthetics or slightly shaggy yarn. Bags were strong and chic, as usual. Messina and Rizzo also ramped up knitwear; the highlight here was a crewneck sweater in windowpane maroon and white. There was a lot to take in.

While scale and ambition are important for an ascendant label to demonstrate, so too is putting forth a cohesive story. Parts of Sunnei’s Fall narrative felt forced—see, for example, an iridescent burgundy-hue collared shirt or a paillette-covered silver skirt. Yes, Messina and Rizzo were dealing with the somewhat intangible reference of long-ago memories, but all the same, a tighter eye would’ve helped. But that being said, this anecdote was mostly illustrative of a brand that’s ready to play the long game.

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