Milan, the city that oscillates between modernity and tradition, is yet again the epicenter of the fashion world with designers showcasing their visions for next year's spring and summer. How well they translate into US trends is always the key question.
Adam and Eve Walk Into a Vintage Shop at Gucci
Alessandro Michele, the new creative director of Gucci, likes to be surrounded by old things. Perhaps it is so that he can re-contextualize or deconstruct everything that the objects might have stood for. That seems to be the whole point of fashion these days.
His spring/summer 2016 collection was a mood board of elements that seemed to converge whimsically and without further justification or vision.
His muse, a myopic, preppy Eve, is no longer concerned with having eaten of the forbidden fruit of knowledge, and is happy to prance around campus without a bra. She wears the suit, she wears the pants, and the serpent is her friend, coiled up around her gilded heels. She lives between worlds—mythical, historical, virtual. The sequined pleats and ribbons of her dresses are drawn on to fly in an imaginary wind. "Frailty, thy name is woman no more," is what Shakespeare might write theses days, "for now, irreverence is thee".
Meanwhile, the pragmatist in Michele knows that the Gucci buyer will find his accessories irresistible. And this is where the collection might just bridge the demographic gap between the old Gucci customer and his sparkly brand new one.
Alberta Ferretti's Desert Escape
The desert served as backdrop and color palette to Ferretti's current collection, but air seems to be the most potent element in the fabric of the designer's imagination.
That's not to say that she has any trouble composing a more solid aesthetic. The suede patchwork dresses are about the most inert pieces, and they carve out a dramatic graphic space in warm browns, punctuated by deepest black.
But Ferretti clearly loves movement and transparency. What better way to make silk chiffon even more airborne than by fraying the edges, or cut it into strips and anchor it to the body by weaving the strips together? Other chiffon gowns were simply tied or pleated to make up the bodice.
A striking feature of the collection was the white cotton tops and dresses sometimes paired with lace-montage dresses in more creams, ochres, and russet browns with black here and there. A pale organza dress was covered in transparent black patterns like a tattoo hanging in mid air around the body. The whole collection was mesmerizing in its textural lightness and the dramatic, earthy color palette.
Daring Elements at Fendi
The style of the 1970's has never truly gone away. Every season there are a myriad references and we don't mind one bit since we keep liking the fluid lines, the maxi skirts and disco jumpsuits, and let's not forget platform shoes.
These design elements were really borrowed from the 1940's but they married well with the technical innovations and materials of the latter 70's. The decade that followed however, has largely remained the temporal territory that designers manage to skirt around.
Yet Karl Lagerfeld has decided to take the plunge for the house of Fendi. He has not admitted it yet, but high necks, puffy sleeves and bubble skirts can only mean one thing—the 1980's has reared ugly head. Perhaps it had to be done so that we can put it behind us, again. That's not to say that the collection was all a miss.
A leather top with high-waisted panties was a textural marvel. So was the pleated black leather dress. Both had similar collars made out of braided strips of leather with the delectable texture of soft licorice. The puffy army-green trousers gathered at the ankle also looked elegant when paired with tan peep-toe heels and that high-neck black shirt, with smocking in a V-shape—the signature design element of the Fendi collection. There are a few cult pieces, yet the puffy shorts may very well not make it to that status.
Romance Reborn at ETRO
The pattern-on-pattern aesthetic is a never-ending well of possibilities which designer Veronica Etro continues to explore in this latest collection.
Be it the diaphanously clad attendant to Botticelli's Venus, or the goddess of the seasons in the other famous Botticelli painting called "Spring," she has come to life to tread the Etro runway in all her floral finery.
Looking at the gowns through half-closed eyes is just as satisfying as zeroing in on the details, which are mesmerizing. With the movement of the body, the long dresses billow, revealing even further the intricacy of the floral prints.
The short dresses are even more intricate. One was paired with a short ruffle-hemmed jacket and black leather lace-up boots embroidered all the way up in what else but flowers. The embroidered boots also came in navy, beige, and white, each with subtly contrasting embroidery. Ribbons, lace, and folk embroidery were combined to great effect and, not to say that the collection isn't totally contemporary, but Botticelli would love it, no doubt.