Milan Fashion Week Fall 2015: Day Three
Giamba by Giambattista Valli: Instagram Lolitas?
“Rive Gauche meets East Berlin,” said Giambattista Valli of his cute young girls with painted marks on their hands and on face, as they walked iyt in the prettiest of filmy dresses clamped with black leather straps across the bust.
For this catch-them-young ‘Giamba’ line, Valli added, “They’re Instagram Lolitas”, which did not sound politically correct but summed up the cheeky sexiness of the clothes – mesh hose with flowers underneath and black boots with side straps other hard/soft statements.
We’re not talking poor street kids in Berlin or Paris here. With Salma Hayek sitting front row alongside young mothers from international society, you could imagine their little daughters growing up in the most delightful way. That pink fluffy, bound-to-be-real fur coat, or another in buttercup yellow with flowers, would make a divine Sweet Sixteen birthday gift. The floaty long gowns, perfect for a special teenage party, came with floral patterns, some splashed and painterly but all as innocent-looking as good girls should be.
Versace Embraces Greece and the Hashtag
It was high tech and high drama at Versace as the Greek key, which has long been one of the company’s signatures, appeared on a giant metallic structure at the back of the runway and as a pattern on sweaters, bags, shoes – and the Internet.
The key motif – make that #greek for a hashtag – was embedded in the quilted suede bags that Donatella Versace was showing off backstage. The symbol was also worked into the Perspex heels of boots that climbed up and away in patent leather and suede until they reached thigh high, under brief dresses.
There are people who might consider it discomforting to build a collection around a reference to a country that is currently in the news more for its debt problems than its ancient history, but this Greek key has long been a Versace symbol. And why would Donatella let a pan-European financial crisis change her fashion plans?
Instead of slashing debt, her eyes were on slashing dresses, which were split up the side and set at an angle as if in a geometry lesson.
In vivid primary shades of scarlet, grass green, and sunshine yellow, leather popped out on the runway, while the few quieter pieces included a compass-drawn cape or a rounded fur.
Since Donatella took her bow in a super-skinny pants suit, narrow trousers were also part of the collection.
The game of keys was mildly challenged by a play on words: ‘Versace’ broken into a mix of letters, which is something I remember from Gianni’s ‘Circus’ collection from so many moons ago.
Donatella did not have much new to say, but the collection was presented con brio. She herself seemed unsure as to what the Greek key hashtag would do or whether it was actually an emoji that could be added on to texts and messages to express yourself. I am tempted to say that it was all Greek to her.
Donatella was adamant about the advantage to Versace of the new digital adventure, however. “I know in my mind and my heart that with the archive – I do not want to look at it any more,” she said. “Thank God for the archive. But now it is time to forget, let go, and think of the future.”
Agnona: Baby Steps Forward
With a spanking new Milan premises and a full collection of clothes, shoes, and bags, Agnona is moving forward as a little cousin of the vast Zegna menswear company.
Designer Stefano Pilati is striding forward to build a collection that includes fine winter coats, capes with fringing, and double-face cashmere. And that’s not including a wide range of dresses from draped shapes to slick satin.
But Pilati is still waiting to show the women’s clothes on the runway, after successfully creating Zegna’s menswear.
I asked him why no fashion shows and when things might change. “With a fashion show, you miss the glory of it,” he said. “But now I have started to really enjoy and appreciate the fact that I have the luxury of taking my time, to construct the structure around it, to bring a great team in, and then when I feel ready, which may be soon, to do a fashion show.” But, he continued, “I will also question how the fashion show will be, because maybe I will find a new format for it. Apparently people like very much to touch the clothes, and to have this kind of proximity.”
“The reality is that the kind of fashion that I love is to see clothes in movement. I don’t work with themes or anything; it is more about the research on cuts and also the allure. That is what I miss and why I will probably think of a way to show it.”
Zegna CEO Gildo Zegna has been exceptionally patient in allowing Pilati’s slow steps forward, but he believes that the investment in a new Agnona headquarters, while using the Zegna mill for woollen products, is the path for the future. The executive also plans for an expansion of wholly-owned stores while keeping the mainly wholesale business.
Would he like to see Agnona on the runway? “This is already an enormous step,” Gildo says, “and a show is food for thought.”
Tod’s: Chic From Top to Toe
Tod’s stepped into a new world when it took on Alessandra Facchinetti as a designer, but she has turned out to be more than fit for purpose. She embodies a new feeling about fashion for a generation of women.
In Italy especially, former Prime Minister Berlusconi’s attitude to women as sexpot figurines has finally been challenged.
Facchinetti’s approach is gentle and not too minimalist, so that after the opening pieces in a plain, pink-washed camel, leaf patterns made quiet decoration for the streamlined clothes.
It does not seem so difficult to offer a fresh, white blouse. But the point about this designer is that every piece seems right in weight, in style, and in texture.
The story was of apparently simple clothes that were in stark contrast to the grand 18th-century Palazzo Litta where the show took place. But there was dense decoration within the sporty, simple silhouettes. Threading, perhaps in leather, would weave in and out of the edge of a collar or even lace the side of soft bootees that added another whiff of quirky modernity.
Facchinetti talked about a sporty and luxurious attitude, referring to skiing and cycling, but none of this made an obvious theme. To the audience, the rounded leather jacket worn over a white shirt just looked sleek and appealing.
I would describe these designs as post-feminist, meaning that a butterfly pinned to a navy dress or a filmy, flower-patterned dress with a casual fur scarf go beyond the familiar working woman’s wardrobe of slim tailoring. Diego Della Valle, the founder of Tod’s as a footwear empire, must have been sitting in the front row congratulating himself on the fact that his chosen designer seems, like well made shoes, to be a perfect fit.
Etro: A Fashion Tapestry
Who would not want to live like Veronica Etro? Not only, as ever, did she prance smiling down the catwalk in a golden glow of models, she also invited the audience, metaphorically speaking, into her family home – a luxurious area rich in tapestries and upholstery, where the furnishings seemed bathed in the russet haze of a setting sun.
It could, of course, have been indigestibly rich. Fashion and furniture do not often make comfortable bedfellows. But Veronica has learned a lot since her early days of hippie serendipity.
However much the Etro patterns swirled and whirled, the designer contained them inside streamlined and tailored clothes.
Her customer seems to have been raised a notch or two, with fur, for the first time in my memory, playing a defining role, including coats with intarsia patterns.
Even when cover-ups were left behind, there was a gilded lushness to a long-sleeved silken dress, belted at the waist. A sheen, as on a polished wooden table, was rubbed over all the evening designs.
There is always a suggestion of Art Nouveau in Etro’s patterns. But Veronica has mastered – not without a struggle – how to take the family heritage and walk forward with grace.
Emporio Armani: Crossing Colours
Think of the Armani empire: it encompasses everything from the designer’s famous beige tailoring, through to clothing inspired by blue sea and sky, through to a sporty, city or vacation look.
But not folklore or ethnic elements. Nor vivid red followed by purple and mauve.
So the Emporio Armani show, with its Ikat work and textural effects, seemed like a departure for the designer. There were mohair dresses, split to the thigh for striding. Even pants came soft, gathered at the top, as if inspired by a faraway culture. Or there were bold appliqué patchwork flowers.
“Crossing Colours” was the title Giorgio Armani gave to his collection. The focus on unusual shades included fur given a tinting and pattern treatment.
Was this an Emporio version of the Seventies hippie de luxe revival so prevalent in current fashion? Or was it a flourish of a statement, on the eve of the company’s 40th anniversary, that he is not ‘Monsieur Beige’?
Whatever the origins of the show, there were some cute and simple pieces, like a black coat, gathered at the pocket hiplines and decorated with just a dash of folklore and colour: a red felt bow.