Full of sublime contradictions, Michelle Duncan's latest collection is the post-quarantine power uniform

We all miss the 90s, maybe a little bit more now than ever, and Michelle Duncan makes it possible to relive our goth days—and not just on the weekend or nights out. DUNCAN’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection is just as well-suited for a typical Tuesday in the office as it is for a party under a silvery full moon.

As is characteristic of the New York based brand, DUNCAN’s latest collection offers simple and well-tailored silhouettes juxtaposed with unexpected moody details. Think a pair of smart black trousers finished with a double row of dancing silver eyelets. Metal hardware is essential to DUNCAN’s “goth girl gone corporate” look—fixed to the pleats of mid-length skirts and strewn across the shoulders of a sleek jacket.

This collection is also deeply personal to Duncan, who founded the luxury womenswear brand in 2019. Its theme is informed by Duncan’s own experience with the intense monotony of quarantine. Rather than succumbing to the drain of endless repetition, she found a spark of creative inspiration in the darkest of those days. That pivotal shift motivated Duncan to build her Spring/Summer 2021 collection, centered around the mantra “Rigid. Repetition. Release.”

Duncan possesses an uncanny talent for reimagining the minutiae of everyday wardrobe essentials. The result is a collection of sublime contradictions—refined watercooler frocks worn with opera-length mesh gloves and Dr. Martens, crisp pleated skirts that end with the perfect amount of spider-webby fray, and a two-piece tartan ensemble that features an ultra-flared kilt. A favorite is a pair of toeless sheer socks, worn with walkable block heels.

The components of the collection seem to come to life in motion, as seen in the film that marked its debut. Two models dance freely to the synthpop of the band Ladytron, interspersed with scenic shots of Duncan’s native New York City. The film seems to capture the spirit of the kind of woman Duncan makes clothes for. She lives in a perpetual state of purposeful motion—always entering and exiting the scene to her own beat. She’s the opposite of stagnant—she has places to be, thoughts to think, and the modality of Duncan’s collection allows her to thrive in that state of constant flux.

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