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Lawrence Steele arrived in Milan during the 1980s as a youngster—he remains gallingly fresh-faced today—and became Franco Moschino’s assistant after an accidental (and tetchy) encounter. Five years later he moved to Prada, before starting his own brand in 1995, and then acting as a consultant designer for Aspesi between 2004 and 2017. Then, after a loving cameo at Marni, he returned to Aspesi in 2020. This Linkedin-ish line of introduction serves to illustrate that Steele’s expertise runs deep.

The apparent simplicity of his Aspesi output belies the depth of philosophy behind it. These are contemporary clothes—paradigm pieces—built with great technical care and consideration for longevity and function. Since his recent anointment as Aspesi’s captain, Steele has created a kind of chain-letter structure for his lookbooks; the last one was shot by Vanina Sorrenti and featured Zora Sicher, who in turn shot this. Said Steele of the clothes Sicher’s cast of close contemporaries wore: “The idea was to just work our classics. To give a slightly punkier feel to them. I have this theme, which is ‘punk monks sit down and meditate.’ So working with conservative, reserved classics but playing with fabrics—metallics, rubbers, plastics, gloss—to push them.” Classic shapes undercut by apparently oppositional materials, then.

The lookbook was as succinct as the formula: an overshirt in nylon placed above a crisp poplin button-up encapsulated the subtle distinction of its result. A rubberized trench coat with matte industrial fittings was uncompromisingly nonpareil. A few traditionally gendered pieces such as a poppy print dress apart, the collection was freely every-wearable. Italian tweed in a blurry green overcheck, scratchy looking but caressingly soft, was shaped into a jacket and overshirt you could see being worn both a hundred years past and hence. A patch camo field jacket, long armed olive MA-1, and emergency orange down blouson were among the pieces that most appealed on a rail whose ratio of wantable to meh was far stronger than most.