Alessandro Dell’Acqua, the renowned designer behind N°21, found himself at the forefront of the fashion world’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As Milan and Paris prepared for the women’s ready-to-wear seasons, Dell’Acqua staged shows in both cities, just as the world began to grasp the gravity of the pandemic.
In Milan on February 19, he celebrated the 10th anniversary of N°21. Days later, amidst reports of COVID-19 deaths in Lombardy, Giorgio Armani opted for a closed-door show. By February 26, Dell’Acqua presented his collection for Rochas in Paris, while the virus continued to claim lives.
With the benefit of hindsight, Armani’s decision to prioritize safety seems prescient. Dell’Acqua, reflecting on those events, acknowledges that perhaps more immediate and responsible action was required.
Many predict that the pandemic will leave an indelible mark on the fashion industry. Dell’Acqua believes the focus will shift towards fewer, higher-quality collections, nurturing local talent and production, thereby fostering a sense of responsibility and ethics within the industry.
Since returning to Italy, Alessandro Dell’Acqua has been in lockdown with his partner in Milan. His team at N°21 communicates via video conferencing, though Dell’Acqua longs for the daily interaction with his creative team.
Alessandro Dell’Acqua, often described as a fashion survivor, started his career in Milan in 1982. He founded N°21 in 1996, facing highs and lows, including a period when he lost control of his own name. However, partnering with Paolo Gerani of Iceberg rejuvenated N°21, making it one of Italy’s hottest brands. Their style blends sensuality with a touch of the torrid, known for its provocative yet elegant designs.
The lockdown has impacted Dell’Acqua’s creative process, and the postponement of major menswear events necessitates a revamp of his company’s schedule.
This period of cocooning has allowed him to focus on talent scouting, something he rarely had time for before. He is also revisiting his personal archives and old fashion magazines for inspiration.
On Instagram, Alessandro shares sketches, work-in-progress ideas, and archive photos. He engages with his fashion community and draws inspiration from both renowned and emerging designers. Reflecting on the pandemic’s enormity, he discusses the evolving role of influencers.
In the post-pandemic era, he envisions a digital world that is more distant yet profoundly connected. Passion and love for fashion will persist, but excess and non-essential elements will be discarded.
In conclusion, Alessandro Dell’Acqua anticipates a transformed fashion industry with greater responsibility, authenticity, and essentiality, marking a significant shift from the pre-pandemic world.