Gucci Gucci, Fendi Fendi, Prada: Milan Fashion Week Dispatch #1
Posing not only a contrast to the over the top, boisterous fun that was London Fashion week but also to the brand’s most recent collections, Gucci was wildly tame. Gleaning inspiration from the brands ‘60s collections, full on glamour was replaced with clean silhouettes and smart, simple tailoring. The fits were kept shrunken, with body hugging blazers and above the knee mini dresses and the colors kept to a pastel palette of dusty rose, baby blue and mustard yellow. Highlights from the collection? Sumptuous leather tops, chunky python boots and drop crotch denim — yes, Gucci did denim. Though the looks appeared simpler than what we’ve come to expect from the brand, crystal embellished necklines and panels of pleated skirt reminded us that Gucci was still in fact Gucci, bling and all.
While androgyny was a trend embraced by many designers this season, Alessandro Dell’Acqua illustrated how striking the juxtaposition of feminine and masculine dressing can be. In layering a heavy gray menswear inspired jacket over a sequin and feather dress he showed exactly what Pat Benatar meant when she sang, “Love is a Battlefield” during the closing song of the show. Many of the looks suggested a morning after ensemble, last night’s party dress topped with a flannel coat or camel cardigan stolen from a paramour’s closet. A No.21 girl is simultaneously a tomboy and a socialite who tosses a floral holographic sequin coat over a pair of gray flannel trousers. (Pictured at top.)
Karl Lagerfeld’s Fendi was a variety show that shifted between four distinct themes but still managed to feel united. There were ladylike hourglass silhouettes and coats pinned with orchid. There were sporty urban looks with mesh inserts and fur-cum-Mohawk details. There were military inspired bomber jackets and furs patched together to resemble camo. And lastly there were strong Nordic connotations with an emphasis on luxurious layers and furs draped around shoulders belted together with leather straps. Despite a deluge of must have pieces and accessories, a certain Karl Lagerfeld Bag Boy three-fur-purse overshadowed them all (sure to become a cult favorite especially after Cara Delavigne danced it around Lagerfeld during his closing bow.)
Roberto Cavallli kept it close to home for Just Cavalli this season despite a tendency to pull his inspiration from more foreign affairs. This season he celebrated his hometown of Florence with an earnest tribute to Medici statuary and the arches of Santa Maria Novella, which were printed on dresses and trousers alike. Abstracting the prints with neon colors and overlaying brushstrokes kept the prints inline with the rock and roll vibe synonymous with the label. It is impossible to talk about the show without commenting on the copious amounts of fringe, which migrated from bags and heels to the cuffs of coats and the legs of jeans. Floral brocade jackets and motto inspired details help to ground the more outrageous pieces, such as one space cowboy gold leather jacket that felt more fit for a rave than a Renaissance.
It is with little hesitation and even less surprise that I call Prada the best show so far. Funneled in through a black felted tunnel, the stage or sound-proof “recording studio” equipped with sunken orchestra pits, housed the musical soundings of Kurt Weill sung live by Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “Lola” a la Barbara Sukowa. The show began with minimal sleek menswear tailoring then quickly escalated into a brightly colored phantasmagoria of sheer shift dresses, highly saturated shearlings and bold art-deco prints. Looks began with silk scarves tied around the neck and ended with wedged heels and boots. The vibe was sensual without ever faltering toward sexual; Miuccia Prada exercising her uncanny ability to make even the dowdiest shapes feel feminine and seductive. The best example of this an oversized sporty V-neck thrown over a modest high-neck silk dress. The outerwear was some of the best we’ve seen this season with dark overcoats that boasted contrasting piping in metallic leather and shearling: practical, wearable yet still dramatic. Likewise can be said for the entire collection, great potential for commercial successful with out losing anything in the way of artfulness and drama.