There’s an old adage about a picture being worth a thousand words; the saying, seemingly, meant to convey the notion that a single image has the power to tell a much greater story than the confines of the medium might suggest. But in looking at the work of undersung Italian photographer Luigi Ghirri, who died suddenly in 1992 at age 49, the opposite might be true; his images could be the visual equivalent of a haiku: their beauty and their power lies in their considered sparseness. While many of his masterful color landscapes were taken at well-trodden places in Italy, like the famed beaches of the Adriatic coast, human presence is often only hinted at or secondary: in a 1972 image of Ravenna an empty beach swingset is back-dropped by the fuzzy horizon line and the viewer can just barely make out the figure of a child in the distance. Visually, they are the diametric opposite of the Italy imagined by, say, Slim Aarons, which was all saturated colors and holiday destinations captured at their most bustling and glamorous. Instead, Ghirri’s style was, as he dubbed it, a “sentimental geography;” his poetic landscapes, often reproduced, fittingly, in a postcard-size bore a sense of openness, of melancholy, of longing. His gift: seeing and presenting the ordinary as something extraordinary. Ghirri himself once said: “The most important lesson I received from Conceptual art consisted in the recording of simple and obvious things, and viewing them under a whole new light.”
It’s a way of seeing that mirrors Anaak’s approach: reimagining simple, quotidian silhouettes in a singular way. This season those silhouettes were conjured with the Ionian Sea and Puglia’s rugged Salento Peninsula in mind. The crumbling Baroque palazzi with limestone facades whose color shifts with the sun; the rolling groves where verdant olive trees are arranged in meandering rows; the oddball cylindrical stone dwellings known as trulli that dot the countryside; the villages seemingly untouched by the passage of time packed with white-washed buildings that recall the architecture of ancient Greece; and, of course, the sea, a shimmering, translucent spectrum of turquoise and viridian and emerald hues, all framed by a coastline punctuated by caves and craggy rock formations.
Italy’s slender heel serves as the ideal protagonist for a collection whose palette borrows heavily from the sunfaded colors of nature and centuries-old architecture—from faded sky to bisque, saffron sunset to white limestone—and whose styles are rooted in an easy sensuality. There are dip-dyed beach shorts and cover-ups, buttondown shirtdresses (both mini and maxi), and generous caftans in a near-sheer cotton crepe with a slubby texture; unfussy cotton double cloth pants and boxy tees, silky pleated separates, and and paperbag-waisted shorts in perfectly rumpled linen; and billowing maxi dresses designed for catching the breeze in washed silk habutai and charmeuse. All of it a poetic take on la dolce vita.