The house of Gianfranco Ferre has been suffering something of an identity crisis since the death of its founder and namesake in 2007. Maybe that's because his successors Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi are trying to do something Ferre hadn't really concerned himself with for about twenty years: namely making the house relevant and desirable for a new market.
Did they succeed with their S/S 2011 collection? To a degree. Aquilano and Rimondi referenced jazz in their programme notes, hence the short, flirty dance dresses hugging the body, embellished heavily at tight waist and kicking out into sunray pleats below the hip. They looked refreshingly young and clean cut, reminiscent of the full-skirted figure-gripping frocks of many an early nineties Azzedine Alaïa catwalk. In fact, reminiscent of many Alaïa dresses on racks today, ditto the intricate macramè-work in white-on-white adorning thick waist-cinching belts and narrow coats. In trapunto stitched leather, those belts had a neat link with Ferre's history, as did the plisse layers whorling across dress bodices and skirts, reminiscent of Gianfranco's much beloved highly-dramatic and highly-worked white shirts.
The only problem with the above was that there was far too little of it. In fact, that was a consistent issue with this collection - and one of its few consistencies at that. Aquilano and Rimondi seemed to tug their designs in several different directions at once without ever really getting anywhere. How to ally those Alaïa-alike skater-skirts with heavy coats in fluoro fuchsia duchess, likewise Studio 54 showgirl gowns with bondage leather backs, slightly sixties shifts and heavily beaded separates clashing cerise, pea-green and satsuma orange? It's fine to bubble over with different ideas - better to have too many than not enough - but by ramming them all into a finite number of outfits all at once, this show felt unedited, uneven and ultimately unsatisfying.