Review of Sunnei Spring 2023 Fashion Show
By Mark Wittmer
For Spring 2023, the founding creative director duo of Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo behind the cultishly cool yet delightfully unserious Sunnei invited the fashion world reorient and open its mind to a little more whimsicality and wonder.
Though difficult to pigeonhole aesthetically – the designers eschew themes and easily definable categories in favor of a subtly surreal reconsideration of the everyday – there is a distinct wink to Sunnei, a je ne sais quoi, a know-it-when-you-see-it.
Embarking on a playful celebration of self, the show made use of smart set design to especially push this bright transformation of the everyday.
The show began as what seemed to be a member of the crowd wearing an unassuming, street-style outfit – not unstylish or uncool, but certainly not Sunnei – stood up, walked down to the runway, and disappeared through the revolving door at the back. She then (or, in reality, her identical twin – a brilliantly fun casting conceit) then reemerged in an outfit that was distinctly Sunnei: a tank top and apron skirt with cloudy, voluminous hems of pants with an oversized fanny pack, all in a clash of bright orange and soft red.
The pattern repeated itself as more unassuming audience members stepped down from the risers and onto the runway to reemerge moments later in quirky, eccentrically chic new looks: blazers with invisible buttons and no lapels, a dress composed of a single coiling soft tube, boiler suits with epically ballooning legs.
Messina and Rizzo continued to develop their expertise for delectable, unexpected textures. Many of the materials here feel dreamy or almost child-like, like something we know we shouldn’t chew on but are finding it hard to resist. In this way, the designers feel allied with the spirit of deconstructionism that characterizes much of contemporary fashion. Though there isn’t any deconstruction here – nothing is destroyed, everything is itself rather than a hybrid, we don’t get a window into how the item was crafted over time – they make us question the traditional codes of dressing and of creating clothes, and provoke a shift in how we understand ourselves in relation to material objects and the way objects make up our world.
But maybe more than anyone else, Sunnei undertakes this experimentalism with an unfettered sense of fun.
This runway show was a clear invitation to reconsider dressing in our daily lives, to recognize that fashion can unlock so much more than we usually give it the chance to.