For pre-fall, Area’s Piotrek Panszczyk was thinking about butterflies, even though he “kind of hates butterflies.” His antipathy for the little creatures was precisely why they were so appealing. “I love diving into things that I personally don’t relate to and making them my own,” he said over Zoom.
“Previously we did it in a kind of iconic ’90s-Mariah Carey-Salma Hayek way,” the designer added, referencing the bedazzled going-out tops worn by the stars that have since become Gen Z cultural touchpoints. “So I was thinking, how can we really flip the script a bit, you know, especially coming off from the last runway, which was a bit more moody.” While there was one bedazzled butterfly-shaped going-out top for the girlies, the majority of the collection saw Panszczyk and the Area team explore new ground. A black cropped tailored jacket with contrasting white oversized lapels that captured an abstracted butterfly silhouette, and another tailored button-front jacket with two appliqued white butterflies (that could also pass for bows) set the tone for the collection. It was playful, but serious. For a lady. Even if the jacket was worn with high-cut black bikini underwear.
Panszczyk has a knack for hitting all of the different commercial categories that Area is known for with a unique flavor that makes the clothes seem like fashion-forward offerings and not afterthoughts. For the sporty set, for example, a black t-shirt with a butterfly cutout in the middle, with a beige trim, worn with matching leggings, also with a butterfly cutout around the upper thigh. “We did a lot of fittings, to get the cutouts right,” the designer said, laughing, about the skin-revealing garments.
This season’s denim styles were among Area’s best. Separates made from raw Japanese denim featured cutouts and butterfly-appliqués made from the same fabric; a little denim jacket, bustier mini dress, and a mini skirt were pumped up to 11 in a groovy hand-drawn butterfly print in shades of purple, pink, white, and black, on a green background embellished with crystal butterflies. Lastly, a four-button, slightly longer, single breasted jacket, worn with a very narrow jean hemmed right below the ankle, was made from a powder blue washed-denim with crystal-embroidered “moth holes.” “We were thinking, ‘what if it’s a butterfly at night? What if it’s a moth?’” Panszczyk explained.
The vastness of the research was also evident in a series of colorblock ponte jersey separates, in particular a long gown with a cutout at the chest, plus playful circular cutouts on the shoulders and the knees. They began by “looking at the antlers butterflies have,” before becoming, “a ’70s geometric jewelry kind of thing,” then finally arriving at a “Stephen Burrows kind of psychedelic feel.” Even without all the 3D, architectural details that had become Area’s trademark, Panszczyk seems to be having just as much fun designing for the human body, exactly as it is.