Milan Fashion Week Fall 2015: Day Five
Marni: Back to the Roots
After an emotional 20-year anniversary celebration for Marni last season, with a flower market dedicated to the nature that designer Consuelo Castiglioni holds so dear, what could she possibly do as an encore?
The answer was to go back to the label's roots.
When Marni started to make clothes as sweet as birdsong in heavyweight Armani v. Versace, Gucci v. Prada Milan, the designer worked with her husband’s fur company.
“I never left fur,” said Consuelo backstage, as she was congratulated by Renzo Rosso of Only The Brave, the parent group which now backs her company.
But we have never seen Marni’s fur like this: cut in geometric squares to use on sleeves or coat pockets, the outerwear going down to calf length and otherwise minimal in shape and decoration.
Then there were the colours: against a mainly neutral background, a flesh-pink pair of pockets or wine-red cuffs would dress the streamlined outfit – but without breaking either the clean lines or the spirit of simplicity.
The length was the other key element. There is a clear move downwards in fashion for Winter 2015, and Consuelo made it credible. Not that the designer has ever shown anything vulgar or sexed-up. But many women are still shy about lengthening hemlines.
The Marni touch was to include long, wide trousers, therefore illuminating any hint of the hippie Seventies. The skirts, especially when cut asymmetrically, looked more contrived.
But it is the strength of Marni to get everything from bold earrings to middle-heel sandals just right. Not to mention the touch – literally and metaphorically – of fur.
Salvatore Ferragamo: Streamlining
A colourful image, inspired by the kinetic art popularised in the Twenties and Thirties, was hung on the mood board backstage at the Salvatore Ferragamo show.
The geometric-patterned carpet on the runway, and a precise patchwork fur coat of different coloured squares both seemed linked to that little drawing. The illustration had been made for an early Salvatore Ferragamo ad campaign, and designer Massimiliano Giornetti indeed marked it as his starting point.
“I began with the spirit of the 1930s – but there were many other things: manipulating leather, creating a new language to make the clothes rigorously constructed – and to show off the shoes,” said the designer, who told me that the fur coat was intarsia made out of 700 pieces.
It was refreshing to hear a designer of a famous shoe house caring about how the wedges and platforms were seen by the audience.
That included the Indian actress Freida Pinto. She told me that she had worked on a documentary called India’s Daughter, about awareness of rape in the subcontinent.
On the runway, the clothes were strict in the cutting of leather – for example a pleated skirt where each knife-sharp line revealed chiffon inside.
The general silhouette had a raised waist, but the tailoring was softened by elasticised, knitted capes that bobbed down the runway just above the floor.
The graphic squares on dresses became more intense towards the end of the evening outfits. Yet there was a strong sense that Giornetti was in control of shape and pattern.
The result may not be specifically identifiable as Ferragamo, but there was a sense of fine quality – right down to the tongue-front shoes that reflected the show’s geometry.
Dolce & Gabbana: Mamma Mia!
At the end of the runway, a group of mums and kids were gathered as if expecting a birthday party.
By the end of the show, after a march past of mothers wearing the brand’s iconic shapely black dresses, and their kids as cute fashion accessories, Domenico and Stefano joined the throng.
“Everyone loves their mother,” said Stefano (although that might be disputed). I refrained from asking about the progeny of gay men’s marriages, and what had happened to the dads.
The show was corny, but it was also compelling and kept within the Dolce & Gabbana framework: dresses either full skirted and blooming with flowers, or longer and lean. Some were printed with loving first letters written from child to mother.
These women were, of course, yummy mummies – the kind who are unlikely to have to dash to the dry cleaners themselves when baby poops on a designer frock.
Some of the florals looked like a rerun of St Valentine’s Day. But ultimately, Dolce & Gabbana never move far from the tree in their fashion garden. Rather than relying on a sugar prettiness, they even had some mummies as though striding to work in tailored clothes with business bags.
And the kids? Well, can it ever be too soon for a babe to join a brand?
Missoni: A Rerun of the Eighties
Grace Jones gasping out “Warm Leatherette” is one of my memories of the Eighties. But I would never have expected to hear the music played at a Missoni fashion show, with clothes to remind us of that in-your-face decade.
Backstage before the show, Angela Missoni in no way prepared me for the mean and skinny dresses, albeit patterned vaguely in Missoni style, if they were not in glittery Lurex.
“She’s a very feminine, playful girl with a lot of freedom,” said Angela of the woman conjured up by the collection, and herself wearing a purple Lurex jacket. She also talked up the studio’s work in jacquard.
It is intriguing that Angela would light upon a decade when Missoni was out of the fashion loop, after its glory days in the Seventies. The label’s co-founder Rosita Missoni once told me how lost she felt with how fashion was moving at that time.
The new look for Winter 2015 was confident, sexy with its body-conscious dresses and legging-like trousers. There was plenty of work in colour and knit craft that looked quintessentially Missoni.
Yet still, I was not quite convinced by the metallic mesh and zig-zag patterns that were veined, as was the floor of the eye-popping runway.
Full marks to Angela for trying something new – which the Eighties once were. But is this the moment to resurrect or reflect on that androgynous, hyper-shiny decade?