Communism to cashmere: The best looks at Milan Fashion Week
After a whirlwind of shows in the Italian capital of fashion, Lisa Armstrong picks her highlights from a week of stunning spectacles.
From Missoni's faded stripes to Prada's military cool, here are the looks that are going to be influencing your autumn wardrobe later this year
FERRAGAMO THE TUNIC TROUSER SUIT
Ferragamo not only filled its show with, multi-coloured stripes; it decorated the floor with them. But while all those skirts and coats with their colourful bands and chevrons made for a striking picture, it was the subtler details that'll prove more seductive. The teeny buttons that ran down the capes (a big trend for winter), the perfectly calibrated width of the kick flares on the trousers, the mustard trim on a wide black belt that matched one panel of a mustard, sky blue, black and white striped top and sheath top… these were good ideas for luxury, grown-up dressing. The stretchy two-piece calf-length skirt and top is another: more versatile than a dress, while the longer semi-fitted, sleeveless tunic and trousers is a modern reworking which may work better than a traditional jacket and trousers.
MISSONI THE STATEMENT SCARF
Sometimes all it takes to update a classic look is one well-chosen accessory. Case in point: Missoni's floorsweeping, ebulliently patterned, wide scarves. Capacious enough to wear as blanket coats, these will be copied by the high street. There was much more to the show (designed by second generation Angela Missoni). Ultra-wide trousers, drapey cardigan-jackets and some eye-popping coats which, on the right woman, fall into the lifelong investment category. They're loud, but Missoni's trademark ziggurat prints are best when they're bold and bright. Paler iterations can border on the drab. Missoni, now a grandmother, dresses real women like herself: busy, not skinny, with comfort as well as style on their minds. Favoured footwear next season is the lace-up plimsol. If that sounds easy, you should try their socks.
PRADA THE MILITARY JACKET
Prada has always combined luxury with an avant-garde skew. In Italy, where communists wear satin and cashmere, this is not nearly the problematic partnership it sometimes proves to be in more Calvinistic countries.
Next winter, the Prada woman is more complex than ever. She's a (rich, obviously) artistic type in vintage 30s-looking embroidered velvet dresses, with a taste for tightly belted checked army jackets, which may or may not belong to her dead First World War fiancé but which certainly show off her waist to advantage.
Underlining it all is the melancholic glamour that has made Prada a talismanic label for so many years. It was beautiful in many parts. The crowd loved it. Melancholy glamour seems to suit the times.
PORTS 1961 THE WHITE TROUSER SUIT
We've been watching this label for a couple of seasons with deepening excitement. It was born in Canada in 1961, its creative team is now based in London and led by Slovenian Natasa Cagalj, who trained at Central St Martins.
This was the label's first catwalk show, and impeccable tailoring combined with a cool, urban sensibility result in clothes we want to wear. Loose jumpsuits, luxurious organza shirts, and some of the best trousers and jackets around. Only occasionally did it become tricksy. Cagalj likes function as much as she values elegance. Coat sleeves unzip and flip over shoulders to create capes, while an asymmetric, scoop-backed sequinned tunic makes for an intriguing layering piece.
DOLCE & GABBANA THE GLITZ HIT DRESS
How do you sell a lot of expensive, classic lace pencil skirts and floral dresses? By wrapping them in a fantasy. This season the inspiration was fairy tales.
Embroidered castles, silk mice, at least seven dwarves and the White Rabbit's pocket watch were embroidered, tapestried and appliquéd across irresistible classic Dolce & Gabbana silhouettes - lovely 50s-style fitted dresses and 60s A-lines. Star pieces include houndstooth swing coats (very Cate Blanchett in Carol), jewelled, Cinderella crystal shoes (or rather clear plastic, because even a Dolce client would probably draw the line at glass), embroidered midi skirts and frilled jumpers, plus the beguiling finale of 95 feather-light, tullebacked sequin dresses.
There is an unselfconscious, playful charm against which resistance is futile.
TOD'S THE COLOUR PURPLE
Alessandra Facchinetti has hit her stride at this predominantly accessories-focussed house and developed her own codes there. She loves a biker or a rock-chick reference, so there were bomber jackets and leather trousers with blades of colour, chunky
Dr Martens-style boots with red laces, and leather kilts with plaited ribbon embellishment.
The funkadelic soundtrack added another layer: the 70s, with window-pane checks and some eye-popping retro colour combinations including, crimson, taupe and purple, which will be everywhere in a few months.
If that alarms you, look to Facchinetti, who kept things luxuriously glossy (including a lot of patent) and somehow made it look chic. Cable-knit jumpers and cropped trousers were particularly appealing.
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