My coverage of New York fashion week was a bit, shall we say, self-referential. Was it New York’s doing? Did the American fashion week bring out the American in me? The “It’s all about Me” in me? Looking through the Milan shows had a very different effect…
It’s not that New York doesn’t have a stake in the fashion world. It is NEW YORK, after all. But the European fashion shows just seem to have a longer lineage. New York is like the youngest sister in the fashion family with London, Milan and Paris as older siblings with the bigger collections in the closet.
The Milan houses are Names, by god, with histories, traditions, ideologies: Pucci, Missoni, Ferragamo. Houses that when we say “vintage” we don’t just mean the early 90s. And how do the big Names deal with a recession? They have a big, flashy party! Milan Fashion Week seemed to be characterized by evening-wear, club-wear and an Eighties fixation (I’m looking at you Gucci, Versace) with few pieces of day-wear in sight. Not being a big Eighties fan myself, I present for your consideration, my favorite picks from Milan Fashion Week: the moments that depart from a night at the club and instead promote the image of the Strong Woman, powerful but pretty.
Miuccia Prada was the stand-out favorite of the week for the editorial set with her blend of the city and the country and her interplay of contrasting textures drawn together by belts. Rather than dipping into the Eighties well as so many other designers did for the Milan shows, Prada seemed more austere, more utilitarian with its boiled wool forties-style coats and suits. I particularly love this evening look (the bag: so fun, the shoes: so wearable, the leather detail: so boldly aggressive but flapper-esque) but why did she have to choose Day of the Dead figurines as her models.
Dolce & Gabbana/D&G
For their Dolce & Gabbana collection, Stefano and Dominco drew from the Surrealist movement and their obvious love of Elsa Schiaparelli to give us a different take on suits, coats and evening wear. Taking their cues from Schiaparelli with the ballooning shoulder as the silhouette detail and Schiaparelli “Shocking Pink as the accent color and adding surrealist touches like leather gloves masquerading as scarves and hats, Dolce and Gabbana made it clear that they are not about to scrimp on materials or details.
A Night at the Opera was the theme for D&G. And in some instances, they meant this quite literally, creating evening wear that sometimes looked like it was fashioned out of left-over curtains from forgotten opera halls. While most of the pieces were just a bit over-the-top for me, as if D&G were shouting from their box seats, “the Show must go on!” I did find the emblazoning of Maria Callas on tees paired with slim black trousers to be irresistible. Strangely though, I found the similar use of Marilyn Monroe images in their Dolce & Gabbana collection to be a little cheap. Why do I choose Callas over Monroe? Is that the Monroe images just seem a bit overdone? Like Elvis on sequined purses in the tourist trap stores leading up to Graceland…
For the first part of the show, Raf Simons played it safe, reminding his audience of the simple beauty of classic Sander: tony cashmere, spare porportions, perfect tailoring and the flat shoe. But things really got interesting for me in part two when the pieces referenced mid-century French ceramicist Pol Chambost. These looks were sinuous sculptures of simplicity but nevertheless in keeping with Sander heritage.
Marni & Missoni: layered knitwear as suitwear
Overall, I found Consuelo Castiglioni’s collection for Marni to be a fantastic master class on the art of layering. When taken elementally, the pieces didn’t seem like they could work together but the result of this barrage of prints, plaids, baubles and brocades was a strong, controlled point of view.
My first introduction to Missoni was seeing a vintage 60s suit set with the classic Missoni zig-zag stripes: a sheath dress covered with a long cardigan then belted as worn by Rocky, immitable Asheville style-queen and bluegrass fiddler. I have always loved Missoni but this new collection from Angela Missoni truly peaks my interest. Is there nothing in this look that I don’t want… And in that beautiful nude palette punched up with cerulean blue?!?
Want to see the Eighties stuff? Check out Style.com or WWD.com