Milan Fashion Week Fall 2015: Day Six
Armani: Limbering up for Expo
For the first time in fashion memory, there were no show notes on the chairs for the Giorgio Armani collection.
The designer was perhaps too busy preparing his 40th fashion anniversary celebrations. This includes a retrospective show on 30 April – the eve of Milan Expo –that will commemorate his commanding presence in Italian fashion; and the simultaneous opening of the Armani “Silos” project, in an empty building that was once a Nestlé factory, but will now be filled with the history of Giorgio Armani, including an educational area and cultural centre.
All of the above, from show planning to architecture and content, will be executed by the 80-year-old Armani himself.
At the show I expected to see a run-through of the familiar. Instead, from the trousers decorated with brushstrokes at the opening, through to the pared down, painterly evening gowns, there was barely a repeat from the last four decades.
“Not a retrospective,” said Armani with a shudder. “Nothing old. Moving away from men’s-style tailoring. And no notes because I want people to make up their own minds and see what they want to see.”
I saw slim trousers, lots of them, most with a wrap round from hip to thigh like a modest swimsuit. They looked much more credible than I make them sound. And they had a purpose: to cover up where a radically new cut – for Armani – produced short, shapely jackets rising up the derrière. Peter Pan collars added to a prim, but pretty, femininity.
I looked across the runway at phalanxes of American buyers, and wondered if the new shape might seduce those women whose closets are already dedicated to Armani – and maybe some newer customers, too.
Around three quarters of the looks in an 80-piece collection were based on pants. So Armani was not shying away from the androgynous Eighties, but rather elaborating on the freedom he gave women in that period.
The designer also had other ideas: knitted jackets, fringing and feathers used to look like the fluff of fur. Without show notes, I was not sure whether a royal-blue Mongolian lamb jacket was, in fact, made from some techno fabric.
The relatively few evening clothes were quiet and gentle, in spite of the colourful beaded patterns. As the models lined up, they became like a living curtain behind the maestro of Milan, who received what will surely be the first of many salutations to come.
New Shoots: Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini
If all the hidden talents were brought up on stage, would there be a youth quake in Milan fashion?
It is 40 years since new shoots appeared, thrived and grew into what are now household fashion names that are also mighty empires.
Continuing with the gardening metaphor, the overarching trees have cast a shadow over fertile ground, making it tough over the last decade for younger and newer arrivals to flourish.
I have always felt that the Aeffe Group, which is behind Alberta Ferretti, is interested in youth and willing to experiment with unexpected talents – supporting Jean Paul Gaultier in his day, and recently Jeremy Scott at Moschino.
So it was a pleasure to see Lorenzo Serafini step into the light as creative director of Philosophy.
Ferretti, joint-founder of Aeffe with her brother, started Philosophy as a sidebar to her namesake brand, and Serafini respected that heritage. He built ruffles into blouse necks, feminised cable knitting by making a cape, worn over what looked like lingerie.
I caught a whiff of the Seventies in the Victoriana facing of a new version of the Saint Laurent luxe tuxedo.
But Serafini’s skill was to pull all that together with something simple: a pair of well-cut white jeans.
Sometimes new designers – or shall we say ‘newly visible’ – try so hard to make a splash that they forget fashion’s purpose: to enhance.
But whether in white, black or blocks of wine, mustard and ginger, the designer stayed on message: he wanted to dress women in the real world.