As you may or may not know, producers of the Oscars are panicking over the red carpet this year and, as early as last Sunday night, started shutting down the streets I use to get to work so they could build their mega-tents. This is because Southern California’s much-hyped Storm of the Century is about to touch down, dropping a whole inch or maybe two on L.A. and causing widespread mayhem amongst people who can’t drive properly even under beautiful, sunny skies. Torrential rains were handled pretty well at Cannes this year, if I remember correctly, and it drizzles on the Golden Globes almost every time so I don’t know why they have to freak out and fuck up my morning commute but, hey, that’s what I get for living on the Walk of Fame.
In the midst of all this, I decided to look back over Milan Fashion Week to see what I really liked and didn’t. Most of the collections were pretty okay, with Dolce & Gabbana using fairytale motifs of princesses, foxes and swans to dig themselves out of their Sicilian trench to delightful effect. Roberto Cavalli’s passé 1920s flappers and Emilio Pucci’s prints-via-Scandinavia were just too, too much but we kind of expect that, don’t we? Salvatore Ferragamo was nicely balanced; tailored but not constricting with some shiny futuristic touches so that’s a bit of a rebound from last season.
I am less than pleased with Alberta Ferretti, whose heavy-handed forest theme landed too literal a forest theme on her overworked garments. I really don’t think leaves and bark and singing birds have to all be there for it to count as inspiration. And Bottega Veneta’s endless parade of coats and dresses and coatdresses with big graphic blocks and stripes broke the cardinal rule, which is “Don’t be boring, darling” and that shit was yawn-worthy, if I say so myself. And I do.
Perhaps most disappointing of all is Herr Lagerfeld’s baffling collection for Fendi because, for a change, I quite liked the spring line but it’s back to weirdness with spiky fur bursting out—or “escaping”, as he describes—from the seams of otherwise wearable clothes. Most apt of the notes I made on the show is “WTF-ness”.
It’s difficult to pick a favorite of those collections that I thought really good. They all stuck to the Swinging 60s idea that is nearly ubiquitous this coming autumn or to a closely related early 70s but never delved into the realm of costume or looking vintage. First up was last Wednesday’s Gucci show of lovely, clean 60s shapes in cool pastel shades of green, blue, camel and peach. The double-breasted coats and jackets were beautifully engineered to be more feminine than I’ve seen in a while and the big, splashy, in-your-face-furs provided a fun contrast. The next day, Max Mara finally, FINALLY!, presented a collection that was on-trend after seasons of trying and failing. I hope they don’t lose their old lady clientele but the grays and greens and camels and tweeds should make up for it if they do. Of course, the coats are sublime, even the impractical sleeveless ones, but the boxy vests, slouchy sweaters and frumpy-chic skirts really put it over the top.
Prada, I have to say, nailed it with the boxy jackets, sheer skirts and sensational Art Deco prints on everything from dresses to oversized coats that are actually cool. The collection was informed by the costumes in Fassbinder’s wonderfully odd 1972 film “The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant” and you can really see the influences updated to look great on the women of today. Then Etro took a different road—the Silk Road, to be exact—with the 70s silhouette with northern Indian and Mongolian details that you could picture Marissa Berenson or Mia Farrow sporting back in the day. There’s an interesting mix of tweeds and silks, brown and claret with metallic embroidered details that sounds like an eyeful but is really well done.
At the end of the shows, Milan’s unpredictable éminence grise, Giorgio Armani presented a feat of engineering with a complete collection of shades of gray with a few touches of green. The evening looks were a little tired and there was, of course, the reintroduction of signature Armani shapes, but overall there was a balance of loose and fitted and enough else to keep it all fresh and new and fun. Well done!
Let’s see if Paris gives Milan a run for its money.