Inside Moncler Genius’s fantastical celebration of outerwear and community spirit, with JW Anderson, Richard Quinn, Simone Rocha, Craig Green, 1017 ALYX 9SM, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Moncler 1952, and Moncler Grenoble.
Moncler Genius is a choose-your-own-adventure playground for post-outerwear fashion. Not like the adventure parks in Florida where you can go around the world by getting recreational alcohol poisoning, but a fully immersive art-meets-fashion experience—where sustainable transport is provided by collapsable mountain bikes, drunk aristocrats wear frilly padded bonnets to a Fellini-inspired séance, astronauts defy gravity in graphic couture puffer gowns, and dogs walk around in après-ski fits worthy of a Sundance afterparty. This is just a sampling of sights from Moncler Genius Building on Wednesday during Milan Fashion Week. The third iteration of Moncler’s groundbreaking collaboration project saw 12(!) design partners across fashion and lifestyle products—including JW Anderson, Richard Quinn, Simone Rocha, Craig Green, 1017 ALYX 9SM, Hiroshi Fujiwara of fragment design, Sergio Zambon and Veronica Leoni for Moncler 1952, Sandro Mandrino for Moncler Grenoble, RIMOWA, Poldo Dog Couture, and MATE.BIKE—use Moncler’s iconic puffer coat as a portal into their wonderfully disparate worlds. (Rick Owens, whose Moncler collaboration isn’t capital-G Genius, also used it to upholster a brutalist tour bus.)
Those aristocrats-gone-goth were the protagonists of Irish designer Simone Rocha’s latest Genius collection. In a surrealist dance performance choreographed by Clod Ensemble, they moved about a movie set in sculptural gowns covered in translucent tulle, embellished coat-and-skirt sets resembling ballet costumes, and, of course, frilly bonnets—Fellini’s 8½, but make it Fall/Winter 2020. Richard Quinn’s space-age set was also inspired by the ‘60s. Like Rocha, the buzzy London designer has become a linchpin of the Genius universe, despite still being labeled ‘emerging’ in the real world. This time Quinn created a zero-gravity chamber with tiled walls in clinical white, in which Swinging Sixties flower children moved about in hedonistic couture gowns, printed with graphic daisies and dandelions (your grandma’s vinyl tablecloths could never). The return of Hiroshi Fujiwara, designer of fragment and godfather of Japanese streetwear, featured what’s likely to be the most-hyped computer case in recent history—alongside cashmere grail sweaters and sneakers courtesy of Converse. Collab incepton! Craig Green also doubled down on his performance-wear-meets-outerwear aesthetic. The designer revealed a roving art installation of inflatable coats doubling as liferafts, all of them swaying to a soundtrack by Frederic Sanchez. Matthew Williams of 1017 ALYX 9SM opted for the sound of whirring inkjet printers, churning out pages from his new lookbook. The recycled nylon fishing line we saw in his last Genius collection still appeared futuristic by contrast.
One of the most exciting additions to the Moncler Genius family is JW Anderson. Despite the post-apocalyptic vibe of his smoke-filled set, Anderson’s gender-defying collection, aptly titled Non-Binary Elegance, felt refreshing in its optimism. One stand-out iteration of the puffer coat was a relatively minimalist parka, in a corporate shade of brown offset by neon yellow. Another was squishy nylon for jackets and twin-sets in brutalist grey and pastel pink. A little bit Pixar, a little bit punk. Most of Anderson’s Genius pieces were inflated versions of past hits he pulled from his own archive. For new accessories, Moncler brought on board RIMOWA and MATE.BIKE, creating personalized LED luggage and sustainable mountain bikes from the future.
Moncler Genius isn’t just about showcasing the season’s most hyped outerwear—though it is absolutely about doing that. As consumers succumb to collaboration fatigue and “sustainable” is sprinkled into show notes with alarming liberality, Moncler Genius is as much about inspiring wild ideas as it is about stimulating the retail sector. “One House, Different Voices”—all ideas are welcome, the only rule is don’t drown others out.