Looking backwards to look forwards on Milan's catwalks
Milan was celebrating itself and its 1970s heritage on the catwalks this year, writes Constance Harris
Milan fashion week commenced before London Fashion week was complete, an action that seemed not very gentlemanly. It reminded me of what I had perceived as aggression on the part of New York when they moved their fashion week from its usual place, to being the first in the schedule. But it seems that was due to Milan and the dates it outlined. It's like a family squabble with one member fighting for dominance and causing chaos.
You see buyers, be they for department stores or boutiques, have a budget. The fear everyone has is that buyers will have spent their budget by the time the third or fourth fashion weeks come round. Get in there quick, is the modus operandi.
Capitals playing games as to dates isn't going to change the perception of that country's fashion. Milan's fashion presentations for next spring weren't earth shattering with news.
But they were very lovely and the quality was beautiful.
Milan is a fashion centre for grown-up women. Here you see beautiful, wearable clothes with a strong dash of sensuality thrown in. Whereas in Paris they do avant garde or bold moves of change which seem incomprehensible to the outsider at first, then three years later we are all wearing that look.
Headline collections at Milan were undoubtedly Prada, Moschino and Bottega Veneta.
Prada was absolutely exquisite. In an evocative landscape of dark sand surface, models walked amidst purple sand dunes, dressed in beautifully composed pieces of tailoring in precious- looking, slightly fraying, fabrics that seemed patch-worked together.
Moschino delivered a playground of a show. Creative director, Jeremy Scott, well known for his love of commercial culture, used Barbie as his muse.
The Moschino fashion show was a Barbie world, including lots of big blonde hair, candy coloured ensembles and it even had models roller-skating down the catwalk. It was very fun. How wearable is another question. But it will go a long way towards the brand's (and every fashion house's) desire to woo a younger consumer in their doors.
Bottega Veneta, designed by Tomas Maier, is generally a softer, slightly eclectic, grown-up, collection. I always appreciate its softer femininity that comes with an edge. For next spring, there were lots of different things going on but principally, it was away from the body and layered.
Etro has recently become a favourite Italian label of mine because it does interesting, but never at the cost of a woman's body. They were into the tribal/nomad theme as well with sun-blasted looking prints in blue and stone, fringing and wrap effect.
Missoni is my other favorite; they were big into the maxi and passionate colour blocks.
I always love Salvatore Ferragamo and its designer, Massimiliano Giornetti, did not disappoint with his stunning collection that, though formal in shape, featured a strong tribal influence in detail and texture.
Dolce and Gabbana did its usual variation on their theme of glamorous, young Italian widows. It's always beautiful if not surprising. For next spring, flamenco featured strongly. Think ruffles and polka dots. Former super-model, Linda Evangelista, was at the show. She was named as the face of their new cosmetics line a few weeks ago.
Milan is traditionally a lover of the 1970s. Roberto Cavalli never deviates from his exploration of it and it always looks sexy and stunning. Pucci, too, did it loud and proud. The dip-dyed trend, seen in London the week before, carried on strongly here, too. The feeling the label evoked of confident female power and sexuality was very appealing.
Gucci, another label rooted in that era, was gorgeous. Though one of our pictures from the collection is more boyish and in denim blue, Frida Giannini at Gucci, like Prada, delivered a collection full of eclectic, evocative, femininity. It was a little bit Boho, but only a bit. Sumptuous fabrics and colour abounded. Shaggy fur was fixed to shoulders, or waists.
Last April, Rodolfo Paglialunga, replaced Jil Sander as Creative Director of her name label. Paglialunga had worked at Prada for ten years and also worked at Vionnet. This was his first show for the label. He was true to the modern, intellectual, asexual, aesthetic of the brand. The collection experimented with wrap shapes (although they did flash some flesh) in a monochromatic palette of white with black, navy or ox blood in wrap skirts, or long shorts, further enhancing the feeling that knickerbockers and plus fours can't be far off.
In summation, things were short in Milan, but in softer shapes and fabrics that looked less exposing than those in London.
Texture was a big feature with feathers on blouses, pony skin in hand bags and python leather on dresses and jackets
The Flatform was still a key footwear shape. Denim blue, tribal and patchwork were new directions. Maxi dresses, skirts with vents and wrap details abounded.
Vogue Italia, one of the most beautiful and influential fashion magazines in the world, celebrated its fiftieth birthday. Everyone was there and not a squabble. Amazing.