Milan Fashion Week Fall 2015: Day Four
“Very romantic” said Salma Hayek, holding her hands to her heart over a sparkling sweater, as the last swellings of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf came to a crescendo at the end of the Bottega Veneta show.
The collection showed a fiery, compelling vision of a womanly body, undulating below sporty clothes that seemed to be patterned graphically with digital techniques. I saw the Autumn 2015 collection as ‘romancing the web’.
But that is not what designer Tomas Maier intended.
“I wanted to play with colour, with print and embroidery, and I wanted to give women pants – that is a departure for the silhouette,” said the designer.
It was all true. But still, an understated way of describing a silk blouse slithering above a pair of graphic check trousers; or a gleaming Lurex waistcoat illuminating a purple top and bottom half.
The colours went from blues and greens, through to orange and gold – the gilded effects striking either as a fabric glaze or as knee-high boots.
If this was all artisan skill and the geometric effects were not done by digital means, Maier must have a steady hand to draw such lines at an angle across a cape, or to create rows of dots on a square skirt.
This Bottega show seemed perfectly balance between two worlds: the hyper-modernity of a polyurethane fabric melding with the calf; and the handcraft of a needle-punch technique, where yarn is looped through fabric. Maier called it “Byzantine”, referring either to its complexity or the origin of such work.
To meld, imaginatively, colour, technique and cutting skills is already an achievement. Adding a current of desire to the Bottega Veneta collection made the show exceptional.
Roberto Cavalli’s Chinese Puzzle
The Roberto Cavalli show was up and down – in both a physical and emotional sense.
There was a switch from sexiness to sweetness with long hemlines – rather than short skirts – making the impact. But both hem lengths embraced the swaying white fringe and the wafting lace that ran like a shower of milk over the outfits.
But it soon appeared that there was another on-going theme: Chinoiserie. Not elements of China today, whose inhabitants are Italy’s enthusiastic fashion shoppers. But the historic arts of Asia, reworked in pixels on the clothes: here a splash of Imperial yellow, there a pagoda-shaped gilded button, or a criss-crossed bodice of Ming vase floral – all done in small dabs rather than big statements.
Having earlier this month in New York seen a Cavalli dress inspired by Ming porcelain at a preview of the Metropolitan Museum exhibition, China: Through the Looking Glass, I wondered if that garment had been the inspiration for this Autumn 2015 collection.
Cavalli’s strength is that the clothes are so exquisitely made in Italy, what might otherwise be vulgar becomes beautiful. If any modern Chinese women are compelled to buy, I hope they pick the long dresses, full of grace.
Antonio Marras: A Love Letter to Ageless Beauty
As Benedetta Barzini walked slowly, smiling down the runway at the Antonio Marras show, three words came to mind: beauty, elegance, serenity. And, oh yes, at 71, this season’s muse was 40 years older than most people in the room.
Since the show space was a garage, where oily walls and concrete flooring had been covered with rococo paintings and Persian rugs, the message seemed to be: older can be more beautiful.
Perhaps a more appropriate word would be ‘timeless’. Marras works from his studio/shop surrounded by many houseplants, and he could not be further from the hard edge of Milan style.
Benedetta is known to the fashion crowd as Diana Vreeland’s discovery of the Sixties, and photographer Irving Penn’s favourite model and cover girl, whether for American or Italian Vogue.
She also has a more cerebral side as a feminist activist and teacher.
That history seemed to inspire Marras to produce one of his more ‘practical’ collections – if that is the word for big patterned sweaters worn with pants and graphic patterns on silk tops. Or for reducing, slightly, the romantic touches, so that a lace coat was neatly tailored and sweet as candy with its pale pink tapestry.
Out of all these colourful pieces, presented with a play on volume, nothing could quite match the patterned, embellished coat in which Benedetta took her bow.
Pucci: Its Fate is in the Stars
To cheers and applause – not least from his loyal creative team – Peter Dundas bowed out from Pucci as creative director, wearing a T-shirt with his Sagittarius sign of the zodiac – the theme of the Autumn 2015 collection.
His fate may already be in the stars, for the word is out that he will join Roberto Cavalli, where he held the role of chief designer between 2002 and 2005.
Laudomia Pucci, daughter of the founder and CEO of the brand in which LVMH owns the controlling stake, would not comment on the Dundas departure. While the designer himself said backstage, without citing a name, that he had signed a new deal.
Who is taking over at Pucci? The smart money is on Massimo Giorgetti of MSGM, the 37-year-old designer who won Vogue Italia’s Who Is On Next? contest five years ago. His proven ability to create a profitable business that is expanding globally would make him an interesting proposition for a luxury brand.
Also his energy and ability to position himself between luxury and main street would certainly cause a shake up at the once-aristocratic house of the late Emilio Pucci.
Dundas followed other designers as creative head of the label, including couturier Christian Lacroix and British designer Matthew Williamson.
In the never-ending game of fashion-designer musical chairs, what did Dundas bring to Pucci in his seven years at the helm?
Embracing the zodiac signs as Pucci prints was smart and original. In fact, the Dundas skill has been to break away from the signature prints with the name ‘Emilio’.
With his Nordic background and holiday home in Greece, Dundas has been able to widen the scope of the fashion house beyond Pucci’s native Florence – sometimes rather too brutally.
But the Dundas connection with Euro It-girls and his ability to produce seductively cut clothes has made him popular with celebrities, and a regular fashion provider for the red carpet.
This season he put some focus on his favourite velvet tailoring, in rich burgundy or navy blue. While white chiffon used for ruffle blouses and floaty dresses were pretty palette cleansers.
But it is the zodiac patterns which will be remembered – along with the cheerful Dundas departure.