It’s telling when Sarah Mower, Vogue contributing editor and grand dame of style.com, starts a review of a relatively minor show with a portrayal of an industry elite’s overbearing yearning for a new creative force in this most venerated city. Though houses like Alessandro Dell’Acqua and the aforementioned cult label 6267 have built up their own followings, it is unlikely that either of them will have the global impact of their contemporaries from other cities, such as New York’s Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez, or London’s Christopher Kane. The city, though synonymous with high style and megawatt glam, has been stifled of new talent for years.
And how. It showed in a mostly disappointing week of toned-down shows that lacked the sparkle of seasons past. But it wasn’t all bad news. A few persistent performers showed the innovation and flair that we have become accustomed to from Milan. With the city’s self-imposed high standards, who could expect anything less?
With Karlie Kloss’s death stare obscured by a pair of huge square sunglasses, the Marni show kicked off with a powder-pink knee length cardigan over a fuschia skirt and a lighter-than-air grey blouse, belted securely for a tight, cohesive look. Consuelo Castiglioni’s kooky darlings and glam geeks rocked a series of unusual and fascinating colour combinations balanced out with gorgeous silk print jackets and pleated and folded collars, topped off with a sprinkling of wacky oversized cropped pants and John Lennon sunglasses. The furs were also a highlight, dyed in effortlessly eye-catching shades in concordance with the cool matron meets Cibo Matto vibe. Like Anna Sui’s shows, Marni’s collections always manage to be standouts, mixing fun with chic. We’re already looking forward to next season.
Dolce & Gabbana
In these hard times of understatement and increasingly cerebral fashion, it’s reassuring to be able to rely on these two masters of maximalism to glam it up. Forget the ridiculous billboards, hypercamp perfume ads and trashy offshoots and diffusion lines. Though business sense can prevail over purity (those execrable pink Dior J’Adore tees, anyone?), a true designer will always return to the source and knock out eye-poppingly striking designs. Playing on the theme of country opulence, the collection focused on full lengths and sharp tailoring mixing earthy textures and materials with classic Italian proportions, livened up with flamboyant Latin touches – a gorgeously colourful print scarf tied around the neck perhaps, or fastened carelessly to a leather bag. Almost out-gentrifying Christopher Bailey himself, the show all but confirmed check and tartan as major trends for fall.
Ah, Christopher Bailey. The local lad done good, the purveyor of classic, clean lines and the owner of possibly the sharpest collection of tailored suits west of Grosvenor Square. Reviving Burberry will be one of his greatest legacies and, not only that, but with each collection, moving from strength to strength. This was one of his strongest and most assured yet. The look? Top heavy – yet floaty – proportion-centric luxe coats with fingerless gloves bunched up to the sleeves, hanging over a pair of matchstick black opaques clad in teetering leather platforms, or sleek silk trousers that furrowed towards the ankle before engulfing the wearer’s shoes.
As the show progressed, Bailey expanded into liberal use of tough, menswear fabrics on coats and as day segued into evening, svelte satin cocktail dresses contrasted with layered ranks of feathers. Other highlights included a stiff, bodice-like shirt flared abruptly at the waist and the ever-charming Irina Lazareanu in a mesmerisingly creased olive green dress gathered expressively in bundles and striking the hem at mid-thigh.
Such is the power of such directional and focused collections – such as Prada’s fall collection – that both Mower and Cathy Horyn have predicted an overhaul of the lace industry (more or less), similar to that of the effect Nicholas Ghesquiere’s spring collection for Balenciaga had on floral printers. Such statements do not go without reason. Designers such as the aforementioned Prada and Ghesquiere have now gathered such influence and an aura of predictive enigma that where they go, the rest of the industry follows.
The dominance of patterned lace was inescapable – it formed separates, full dresses extending to the clavicle and even came in a shade of sizzling tangerine. The sternness of the shapes and the innately sexual connotation of the material formed an uncomfortably tense dichotomy, and paired with sheer textures overlying prim layers underneath, formed a sort of meditation on underwear as outerwear. Of course, this isn’t unfamiliar – Marc Jacobs’s controversial collection last September reminded us of its potential, and Prada even seems to have picked up cues from Balenciaga in the form of towering gladiator sandals – but this is not a woman with anything to prove. Reinterpretation and shaping new ideas from existing ones is integral to the capricious and oft-convoluted world of fashion, and though the influences are evident, the grand dame’s vision is all her own.
Clean, feminine and sensuous. In a week traditionally associated with the notion of more is more, Alberta Ferretti has always been a welcome respite to the maelstrom around. Think of her show as a detox, a holistic cleanser of palate and retina. A glacier blue knee-length dress wrapped and tucked to perfection and a cascading black tiered pleated number with sequin shoulders stood out in an otherwise unembellished and pure collection relatively devoid of frills, pretension or whimsy.
The palette of deep, intriguingly opulent jewel tones and restrained purples and greens was ideal for the minimalist feel of the collection, though subtle dramas played out in dramatic use of volume and proportion, not to mention daring experiments like a remarkable hot pink egg-shaped satin coat with a twisted collar in which the wearer’s forearms and wrists plunge into wide pockets cut perpendicularly to its “sleeves”. But that would be missing the point of the collection entirely. With the sun soaring above on a freshly cool day outside and the shadows inclining benevolently in the background, it was a collection perfect for its time and place.
-David J. Paw