Jan 11, 2021
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No. 21 does Milanese bourgeois decadence for pre-fall 2021

Jan 11, 2021

Think of the latest No. 21 collection as the return of Marilyn Monroe, with her next stop in Milan.

No. 21 - Pre-Fall 2021 - Photo: No. 21 - N.º 21

A collection all about designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua, taking a movie-star spin on what he does best - Milanese bourgeois decadence – in his pre-fall 2021 ideas for his brand No 21.

An edgy take on Norma Jean, whom we first spot with her blond tresses spilling over her shoulder, wearing a hotpants-and-soft-collar-shirt combo, showing endless legs combined with a mannish houndstooth-check blazer.

Then standing before a mirror in a yellow cashmere knit with a glistening red crystal lip motif, putting on lipstick in a bathroom. Monroe’s legendary full lips even appeared as a score of kisses on high-heels the model kicks nonchalantly off in her boudoir.

The No. 21 guy and gal wander around a series of bathrooms and suites, before Miss Monroe finally makes it outside – standing on a table of a terrace of the Hotel Excelsior Gallia, overlooking the entry point of so many young models into Milan, the Mussolini-era Stazione Centrale.

No. 21 - Pre-Fall 2021 - Photo: No. 21 - N.º 21

“I dedicated this collection to Marilyn Monroe because I recognize in her quite a modern attitude toward sensuality. Despite her reputation as a 'dumb blond' I think Marilyn embodied a wholesome and natural form of sensuality. She appealed to men and did not spark alarm in women, for — as Truman Capote called her — she was 'a beautiful child' in whose spontaneous manner and demeanor others found 'some sort of platinum sex-explosion',” explained Dell’Acqua.

“That’s why I used all the standard elements of female sensuality, from bras to low-cut necklines, from bodysuits to culottes, from ample coats worn with nothing underneath to tube skirts and metallic bustiers… all while capturing a simplified expression of femininity that belongs very much to today’s world: perfect naturalness,” added the Neapolitan-born, but Milan-based designer.

Despite the hint of an illicit assignation in a foreign hotel, the shoot and mood have a certain innocence and femininity, even as the femme fatale takes the elevator in a low-cut black lace cocktail en route to the lower basement laundry.

No. 21 - Pre-Fall 2021 - Photo: No. 21 - N.º 21

While her gender-bending guy appears in sliced-up clubber sweatshirts or palm-print mohair jerkins finished with ribbed knit collars; though Marilyn gets to wear the latter garment with a pink crystal bra, as she sprawls on the bed of her '50s retro hotel room.

For shoes, Dell’Acqua kits out Norma Jean Mortensen – to give her maiden name – in purple velvet spike-heeled sandals with chunky crystal buckles; red satin high-heels and hefty patent leather platforms. All shot in a cool glam light by photographerJacopo Benassi.

Bourgeois decadence blending smartly into Bert Stern’s iconic 1962 photo shoot of Marilyn, shot in Suite Number 261 and Bungalow 96 of the Bel-Air hotel in Los Angeles for Vogue magazine.

The images appearing in the magazine’s September issue, which went to press on August 6, one day after Monroe - the greatest movie star of them all - was found dead of a barbiturate overdose.

Goodbye Norma Jean. Though I never knew you at all. You had the grace to hold yourself. While those around you crawled.


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