Milan designers hit 'empowering women' theme in fall fashion
MILAN -- Milan Fashion Week took a formal turn on the fourth day of previews for next fall and winter.
Mindful of the price point, designers were not churning out looks that could be tossed into a suitcase for a fanciful journey, but rather pieces that could hang in the closet for years to come, even left alone for a period only to re-emerge as relevant as the day they were purchased.
The debate continued about whether to get items to the store quickly to satisfy the consumer accustomed to instant gratification. But while some designers were quick to get out capsule collections, from Moschino to Ermanno Scervino, the overriding Milan mindset retained its commitment to luxury craftsmanship and materials, which cannot be rushed.
Some highlights from Saturday's shows, including Bottega Veneta, Missoni, Scervino and Jil Sander.
Angela Missoni made the pinkish Monte Rosa visible from her office and home in northern Italy the backdrop of her fall-winter collection in Milan.
"For me, it represents the force of this group of all the women of the world who are strong as a rock," the creative director of the family fashion label said backstage Saturday.
The collection played with vibrant colors and clashing patterns, as well as layers and volumes. Missoni's strength is multi-faceted: Fine knits sheath dresses belied a delicate femininity while suits preserved individuality with bright checkered patterns broken up by knit tops peeking from below the jacket hem.
Translucent knitting gave a twist to the company's familiar zig-zag on long skirts.
Missoni also included big fur vests and a plethora of scarves of every weight and description, from soft fur resembling a lemur's tail to shaggy neck cozies and twisting knits with metallic thread contrasts. Buckle kitten-heels with ankle socks in matching colors completed the looks.
The final looks had a homemade feel, resonating with the spontaneous nationwide knitting bee that saw thousands of U.S. women make pink pussy hats for women's demonstrations across the United States. The roughness of the knits seemed to be an assertion of women's creative powers.
MISSONI'S PUSSY HATS
The fashion world is awash in pink pussy hats, complements of Missoni.
The luxury knitwear company Missoni knitted hundreds of pink pussy hats in a statement of solidarity with the recent women's marches across the United States, and left them on the seats at their runway show. All of the models donned them for the finale.
At the end of the show, creative director Angela Missoni asked the crowd to don the caps and join her on the runway in solidarity.
"I feel the need to recognize that in a time of uncertainty that there is a bond between us that can keep us safe," Missoni said to shouts of agreement. "The bond that unites those that respect all human rights. Please join me and my family on this catwalk, and let's show the world that the fashion community is united and fearless."
If there is a theme permeating the Milan runway, it's about female empowerment. Even Ermanno Scervino has militarized his trademark lace.
The Florentine designer transposed military markings onto his feminine forms. Lacy tops were worn with olive green trousers tied with a military stripe belt. A military-style overcoat with yellow-and-red fur cuffs topped a sexy, red lace slip dress.
Scervino's mastery of materials came through in a pale dress covered with tulle florets that from a distance appeared to be tufts of fur. And although military accents were on his mind, he also kept colors soft, combining a baby blue duffel coat with brass buttons or a white lace suit with a military stripe belt and a matching overcoat with a fur collar.
Knee-high jackboots with rivets finished most of the looks.
HOLLYWOOD'S GOLDEN ERA AT BOTTEGA VENETA
Bottega Veneta's looks for next season exuded a 1940s Hollywood glamour, with a strictly formal collection for men and women.
The female silhouette befitted any Hollywood diva: broad shoulders, rounded hips and tailored at the waist with long continuous lines. Creative director Tomas Maier said the shape conveys "the pencil mark on a sketch."
Sweeping metallic-thread evening dresses created a liquid effect and had distinctive detailing, with one tying demurely on the derriere. Riding trousers were the staple for daywear, worn with tucked-sweaters and knee-high boots. Contemporary touches included multi-directional pleats on the daytime dresses and a disciplined deployment of sequins and elegant studs. The big furry coats were from goats, a purposefully sustainable choice.
Glamorous accessories finished the looks: sheer black hose with polka dots, suede and nappa wedge footwear and crystal combs sweeping the hair into place. Colors included bright ochre and tangerine for the day and ice blue and desert rose for the evening.
Bottega Veneta's menswear also started with formal wear, with smoking jackets that nipped in the waist and bombers paired with bow ties. Maier said the two clothing lines were conceived together, sharing materials and ideas.
DESIGNING FOR A WORLD OF WOMEN
Despite the Bottega Veneta collection's strong point of view on Saturday, creative director, Tomas Maier, said he had no specific muse in mind.
"I never think about one single woman. I grew up in a home with a lot of women, a lot of sisters, my mother and aunts. Everyone very different, everyone with their own personality and their own problems," Maier said backstage. "That really took me off the road of having a dream woman."
Instead, he deliberately seeks to create looks that work for women of different shapes, skin tones and hair colors.
"It is on our minds at all times," he said.
JIL SANDERS MINIMALISM REDEFINED
Creative director Rodolfo Paglialunga redefined Jil Sander's minimalism with softer fabrics, brighter colors and a rare print at Saturday's fall-winter preview in Milan.
"Everything is very voluminous, fluid, relaxed, feminine," the designer said backstage.
The redefined shoulders gave new volumes to dresses and coats, while quilted skirts had a sportier vibe. New materials included chenille and metallic lurex that permitted draping for a softer version of the brand's trademark minimalism. He also defined the looks with season-crossing colors: light blue, powder pink, lime yellow and pink contrasting with black.
"I felt I needed to use color to make this femininity more contemporary," Paglialunga said.
BIRD OF PARADISE FOR VIONNET
The French brand Vionnet made its Milan runway debut Friday evening in the 15th-century Casa degli Atellani palace, recreating a salon atmosphere amid carved wooden panels and centuries-old frescoes.
"We are Made-in-Italy, and this is why we are here in Milan today," said creative director Goga Ashkenazi, who took over the historic brand in 2012. "We feel very at home here."
The collection was inspired by the exotic bird-of-paradise, which Ashkenazi compared to "women of modernity" like Yoko Ono and Imam.
"They belong to the world and they are amazingly self-confident, each one a character," she said.
Avian references appeared in encyclopedic prints on silken fabrics, while the bird-of-paradise's colorful plumage also inspired flashes of colors, including turquoise, green and pinks, which contrasted with taupe and black.
Ashkenazi captured the fluidity of the brand founded in 1912 with light chiffon and crepe de chine silks that conveyed classical Greco-Roman styles. But she kept it modern with contrasting bias-cut denim, including flowing bell bottoms, and twists on dresses that had an industrial touch. Even the shearlings hung on the body in a fluid manner.
"That was the intention, the break in styles," she said. "We are respecting our beautiful history of course, but we are giving it a twist."
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