Nancy Mitford—of the legendary Mitford sisters, la crème de la crème of British eccentric aristocracy—was in the air at Luisa Beccaria’s show today, which the designer titled The Pursuit of Love: a Tale of Contradictions for Modern Cinderellas in reference to Mitford’s most famous novel. Notions of contradiction don’t easily come to mind when thinking about Beccaria’s style, which seems to be designed for delusional heroines from a turn-of-the-century Russian novel in which tragic love ends in disaster, with decadent lives spent at grand society balls under frescoed ceilings and crystal chandeliers. But, as Beccaria pointed out backstage at the sumptuous palazzo where she showed her collection, surrounded by long-limbed models swathed in tulle and velvet, modern life keeps creeping in. Thus she wanted to work around the play of opposites that sits at the core of the often unmanageable dynamic of women’s everyday duties. Strength versus vulnerability, dreams versus reality, masculine versus feminine.

This is not to say that Beccaria tried to address any gender issue, or encouraged conceptual interpretations. She just introduced a more focused attention to the “practical” needs of her posh clientele, injecting a good dose of tailoring and adding more substantial and masculine fabrications like loden, gray flannel, vicuña wool, and tweed to her signature über-feminine look. Embroideries and prints were graphic and subtle, more abstract and less literal than usual; houndstooth culottes were paired with a lacy shirt—they were modern yet romantic. The silhouette was more streamlined and slightly reminiscent of the ’40s; it would have been perfect for a modern Nancy Mitford, witty and mischievous and very upper-class.​

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