Milan Fashion week has been rather predictable in recent seasons. Showrooms have been crowded with fashion journalists glancing and glazing over an abundance of forgettable fur coats and dresses. But one thing is clear from Milan’s most recent seven-day sartorial parade: the Italian capital has found its groove again.
Fashions Finest – What the world’s famous had to offer
Gucci was the week’s big opener. After being announced as the house’s new Creative Director in late January, Alessandro Michele exhibited his first S/S collection. And he did not disappoint. Playing on the theme of gender divide, Michele had both female and male models wearing his clothes. Strutting down the runway was a plethora of everything: from floral trouser suits to studded double G belts to ruffled prom dresses. Complementing this eclectic mix were antique-looking accessories – ‘fake vintage’ as Michele described them. Although his Gucci woman wore Deirdre Barlow glasses, she was still adventurous with print and colour. She was also an independent woman who favoured bold and playful separates over statement pieces. Put simply, the Gucci show was a multi-layered, rich exhibition. And the women dressed to please no one but themselves. Versace also emphasised an image of the independent woman. In this collection she pushed aside her signature nine-inch stilettos and black slash gowns and opted for downbeat garments. Even more surprisingly there was no gilded Palazzo venue and no gold logo. It is clear that the new S/S pieces are intended to act as the armour for a new type of Versace woman: the urban warrior. Boxy leathers, safari coats, rucksacks and leopard-print pyjama suits – almost all of which were in khaki and military greens – were showcased alongside tractor-sole sandals. Undoubtedly, Ms. Versace wanted to provide her consumers with the perfect set of tools to run the world. Her collection was a fusion of quintessential Versace glamour and contemporary power dressing. The 60-year-old Italian – herself wearing green printed trousers – said that International Women’s Day was an inspiration. Her heroine was ‘fierce, a fighter and a woman who struggled.’
L-R: Gucci, Oversized glasses and gold accents at Gucci, Versace
Tomas Maier similarly created a Bottega Veneta collection designed to arm his woman against the elements. He based his vision on bold themes related to hiking, big nature and the outdoors. The models strutted around in long, sweeping canvas gowns tied up in lanyards as well as masculine overcoats made from beaten-up leather. ‘The more I can get out of an urban environment, the better it gets,’ said the German designer. Another parallel to the Versace collection was also the fact that Maier aimed to reclaim the leopard print as a marker of luxury, with the pattern displayed on bombers and trench coats. Prada’s collection was a chaotic mash up of epochs. The clothes on display were clearly influenced from a thirty year period – from 50s elegance to 70s prints. There were 1960s–style boxy jackets and exaggerated shoulders in earth tones as well as silky dresses in stripy 70s wallpaper colours such as burnt orange. And all of these references were anchored by themes extracted from the Roaring 20s. A jazz soundtrack accompanied the models – who wore heavy, matte gold lipstick and slick backed hair with little fringes– whilst they glided down the runway. Prada’s previous collections have intended to provoke society’s conventional understandings of gender, and this show was no different as men’s pants were made visible under delicate skirts. Miuccia Prada’s vision was a marriage of era and sexuality. In the aftermath of the fur bag bug hysteria, Fendi decided to tidy its appearance up by playing down exaggerated splendour and instead favoured a more muted aesthetic which focused on subtlety. There were no kooky or detracting accessories in the collection. Instead, there were detachable leather bag straps, which will be sold separately to ‘mix and match’, and a bag that will be offered in intrecciato (a signature weave of the brand). Despite being more conservative Fendi clearly still has has the skill to produce an ‘it’ accessory. Tudor and medieval appeared to be the obvious inspirations in the clothing collection with corset tops worn over white blouson shirts and a red miniskirt made in a basket weave. Although the Kaiser, Karl Lagerfeld, loathes reference, Silvia Fendi was able to admit that the collection’s reference points were ‘Victorian, medieval and Tudor silhouettes’ as these were times when ‘women were strong and tough.’
L-R: Bottega Veneta, Prada, Fendi
Retrospect and nostalgia also seemed to be a strong theme in the Dolce and Gabbana collection. ‘How do people outside of Italy see Italy?’ asked Stefano Gabbana. Answering his own question, the 52-year-old Italian stated ‘they see beautiful things, they see food and they see fashion.’ And that’s exactly what he and Dolce gave the audience. The show was a holiday romance that paid homage to Italian tourism. The models were living Pinterest boards: pencil skirts were embroidered with beach parasols, shirt dresses showcased vintage postcards and handwritten love letters and one flared orange dress was sequined with Michelangelo’s ‘David’. Straw bucket bags and minimalistic poplin sun-dresses also stressed Italy’s rich history by nodding to the post-war period. There was, however, a modern twist to the show. Just like a group of well-dressed tourists, the D&G army arrived with their bags or sunglasses, posed for a shot, took selfies on the runway and went backstage to take more selfies alongside the designers with the photographs appearing on screens in the showroom. Not only was this Dolce and Gabbana’s fan letter to their homeland, but it was also their vision of Italian nostalgia meeting the 21st century. Over at Giorgio Armani there was a restraint from bold innovation. Instead the Italian extraordinaire stuck to what he does best – delivering timeless luxury. Soft silhouettes were a common theme whilst body parts were both disguised and exposed. The classic work shirt was reinvented as a long, relaxed shirtdress and there was an abundance of above-the-knee skirts. There was clothing for everyone in his collection, whether it was a tuxedo or a day jacket. The master of complimenting the female figure once again did not disappoint.
Let’s not forget:
It was all about the beach life for Dean and Dan Caten over at DSquared2. During the summer the twin designers began to learn how to surf, and it is unequivocal that their collection has been heavily influenced by it. The ‘Bondi bitches’ (as the two Catens called them) wore plenty of quirky scuba-tight clothing and sexy billowing skirts aimed for the modern-day buyer. Peter Dundas, the new Creative Director of Roberto Cavalli, chose evolution over revolution. He stuck with some of the house’s signatures: sex appeal via thigh high splits; short skirts; skin-tight silhouettes; and, of course, the animal print. But he also displayed some fresh ideas by using acid washed and tie-dyed denim on biker jackets and gilets. Given Cavalli’s loyal fan base there was no real need for Dundas to completely renovate the house’s image. And quite wisely he did not.
L-R: DSquared2, Roberto Cavalli, New creative director Peter Dundas’ first collection for Roberto Cavalli
Ones to know:
L-R: Marni, MSGM, Emilio Pucci, Etro
On to Paris…
All Images: http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/