All of Fashion Month is a kind of sartorial fantasy, but in 2021 few garments hit the escapist nerve quite like eveningwear. After a year deprived of frothy social events, women are lusting over inappropriately extravagant party dresses—and few brands do them better than 16Arlington.
For fall winter 2021, designers Federica Cavenati and Marco Capaldo offered fantastical fashion in droves—sheer column dresses embroidered with giant orange feathers, delicately sequinned minidresses worn with exaggerated fishnet tights, and dramatically square-toed mules…Elsewhere, the collection had surprisingly ‘everyday’ touches: brown faux snakeskin sets, flared trousers, and leather suiting.
Cavenati and Capaldo—themselves a couple enduring London’s seemingly never-ending lockdown—were drawn to the concept of “confinement” while designing FW21. Their references included the contemporary French artist Hubert Durprat, whose pieces often feature insects frozen and cocooned in extravagant materials like gold, opals, and diamonds. The clothes themselves became an extension of this concept—precious layers for those trapped in stasis.
Following their launch in 2017, 16Arlington quickly found a cult following (think: Solange, Adwoa Aboah, Lena Dunham, Lady Gaga) who embraced their ethos of ‘design for a good time’. Cavenati and Capaldo, who met while studying at the London arm of the celebrated Italian fashion school Istituto Marangoni, expertly strike the balance between Italian maximalism and a touch of Scandi restraint—best exemplified by their pairing of razor-sharp statement collars with glitter, sequins, and maribou-trim.
But that visual frothiness shouldn’t be mistaken for frivolity. The couple’s good-time aesthetic is married with a serious commitment to ethical design. For spring-summer ’21 the duo created a tight 14-piece collection, including reissues of fan favourites from their archive. It’s all part of a greater plan to encourage sustainable consumption. “Now more than ever it’s important to pick your pieces wisely and intuitively,” they said in an interview at the time. “The idea of thoughtless excess is dated.”
The FW ’21 collection will drop around September, by which time we will, God willing, have returned to something resembling ‘real life’. The promise of a perfectly-crafted dress by 16Arlington—one you’ll wear again and again—seems as good a reason to look hopefully toward the future as any.