Lawrence Steele designed for Aspesi as a consultant for 13 years until 2017. Then he joined his partner, Francesco Risso, for three years in “a labor of love” while Risso did his undergrad as a director creative of Marni. Then at the end of last year, Steele returned to Aspesi, this time as Creative Director.
Steele first met Aspesi in the late 1980s, shortly after arriving in Milan from Chicago, after a traveling international childhood with his military family. When he met Alberto Aspesi, Steele was working in the studio of Franco Moschino, who contributed to the designs for the house. Later, Steele also worked for Prada before founding his own line, Lawrence Steele, which operated for a decade and was supported by Aspesi. All that preamble is to say that while this collection is Steele’s first as Aspesi’s creative director, it is also the contemporary culmination of a relationship that has grown and developed throughout most of his adult life.
Aspesi is relished by those who know it as a source of understatedly impeccable clothing whose minimalist looks belies a wealth of design considerations and manufacturing know-how: satisfying complexity in simplicity. About this collection, Steele said: “It was about choosing shapes and pieces that speak languages and that I could juxtapose against each other.
This apparent simplicity of Aspesi clothing, along with its durability and quality, means that once they are born and taken possession of, they can live a long life and even outlive their original owners. This was Steele’s thought in making mixed materials, which was fashioned from what looked like tweed but featured a counterintuitively soft hand to the touch. A fantastic slip dress, perhaps in the style of the 1930s, looked both vintage and attractive and contemporary. Carefully oversized trench coats, patchwork striped rugby tops, and vaguely shady corduroy jackets all evoke the Left Bank in its heyday in 1968.
The subtle juxtapositions in the clothes became more visibly alive when placed in this group of family and friends: you could perfectly see how the clothes could be worn, interpreted and shared not by one person but by one. tight-knit group of people (which is a much better policy to use less than track rental). I’m not going to try to delve too deeply into the complexity of these pieces and this collection. A start that Steele lived for many years in order to be philosophically equipped to do, it was charming: mature, intellectual, slow and deep.