Escapism fights conservatism in Milan
There was a whole move of escapism among certain designers in Milan this season, contrasted with an obsession with respecting certain house’s DNA. As if designers want to forget the whole wave of jingoism sweeping the country, and the brutal new anti-immigration policy of the new government.
Global nomads, gypsies, inveterate travellers and party animals have packed out the catwalks in these spring/summer 2019 collections. Few models on any catwalk looked like they were going anywhere near work. At the very most, a half day in a WeWork, but dressed to exit quickly for the nearest terrace of beach.
However, in a small minority of classic houses, conservatism still ruled.
If you want fully fledged escapism go to MSGM. Its show was entitled 'Dream'. Its invitation was a fake box of pills. Its magic potion is a mix of Melatonia, Triptofano and Vitamin B6. Inside the box was even one wee blue and white pill.
“Melatonin improves oneiric activity,” read the program note for the up-tempo, party gal, don’t stop dancing until you drop collection from MSGM Friday morning.
The house’s founder and designer Massimo Giorgetti hails from Italy’s clubbing capitals on the Adriatic Coast, and it would be hard to imagine a more club-orientated collection.
After-midnight psychedelic, flower power prairie dresses; densely packed Alpine floral print coats with matching leggings; or taught draped chiffon dresses cut half way up the thigh. All anchored by mini-cowboy boots, either in see-through plastic or a print that read 'Dream'. Fantasy fashion for after-hours clubs.
Though there are few more haute-bourgeoisie cities on the planet than Milan -- the financial and fashion capital of Italy; the one Italian town where everything works -- this metropolis has always had a weakness for a groovy, posh hippie.
That was very much the case at Etro this season with a collection named 'Pacific Zen', which managed to fuse California surf culture with Hawaiian hues. It was an ideal way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this great house, which also staged a brilliant retrospective called 'Paisley Generation' inside Mudec, Milan’s happening new fashion museum.
Designer Veronica Etro even managed to drop in a little Japanese history – that country’s couture quality denim and sophisticated graphics. All pulled together, it made for a great show, erratic perhaps but containing some really stunning images.
Tasha Tilburg, the veteran model in a brilliant comeback season, starred in a Hibiscus flower silk suit with drawstring pants and contrast herringbone lapels. Often pants and light cotton suits were paired with marvellous quilted kimonos. Other gals came in swirling, oversized patchwork dressing gown incorporating golden jacquards and Nippon batiks, with beads everywhere. Many carried multi-fabric hold-alls in chalk-stripe and Japanese denim.
“The sun-kissed joy of Venice’s bohemian tribes,” said Veronica Etro, who took her bow to intense applause with her papa Gimmo.
“I was sitting quietly in the backstage when she dragged me out,” demurred Gimmo, though obviously clearly proud dad.
This marked the second runway collection by Paul Andrew, an extremely gifted shoe designer, for Salvatore Ferragamo.
And in terms of footwear, Andrew underlined his incredible range; sculpted mules with furniture leg heels; raffia sided and beveled platform sandals; beautiful woven leather boots.
In terms of fashion, Andrew created the women’s wear and Guillaume Meilland the menswear. Andrew showed clever asymmetrical leather skirts; truly admirable handkerchief dresses and some sleek lambskin trenches.
However, while the apparel workmanship was admirable, the actual clothes lacked oomph. Respecting a Tuscan shoe brand’s DNA is one thing, letting it restrict you is another.
Italian textile at their best chez Agnona, where Edie Campbell opened the show in an elongated trench, loose shirt and large pants in matt sepia, finished with chunky white sneakers. A look that would flatter many women, and not just a runway model, which is the point of this brand – whose leitmotif is informal elegance.
Cashmere swing jackets in wheat; inside out trenches in tan; ankle length cardigans in khaki all captured a certain relaxed sense of style. Working in a tight colour palette and creating a pardoning silhouette, designer Simon Holloway produced plenty of attractive merchandise.
However, it cried out for a stronger fashion statement. Timeless elegance is all very fine, but it is also a tad sedate and not enough seductive.
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