Paris Fashion Week has just gotten started and as we finally get to delight ourselves finally with some French fashion, let’s go over some specific reviews about Milan Fashion Week.
This season, Milan Fashion Week as always had some ups and downs. Starting from the fact that the trending Gucci decided to present its collection in Paris, Milan had the challenge to still prove itself for its craftsmanship, quality and for some brands, elegant simplicity. Now, Italian fashion is different from French fashion in the sense that French brands are recognized mostly for its heritage whereas Italian brands are more focused on high-quality with the intense Made-In-Italy manufacture. This year the once differential feature of “italianity” that we’re all looking for got somehow lost for some brands, and we witnessed more of a cannibalistic and commercial absorption of trends with not so much new to offer.
Let’s start by talking this time according to the calendar and take a look at the most remarkable shows. One of the first awaiting shows was Alberta Ferretti, and although for the past seasons the brand has been giving quite a good performance when it comes to portraying a chic and elegant woman, this year was a genuine disappointment. Although some pieces did show quite a lot of work, Alberta Ferretti was yet another brand focused on this overbearing-textured lace trend and an unsure way of styling layers. Moreover, the whole collection is yet again following the same color pastel trend that we’ve been seeing since last year and it seems to be betting on its cuts and structures which could be unflattering for its real customer unless she has a model figure. Moreover, and besides the aesthetic of the clothes, there was nothing particularly noticeable during Alberta Ferretti’s show when it came to its storytelling. The brand is lacking sex appeal in its clothes and the color scheme are not going to help in the long term. In contrast, Max Mara was the complete opposite and it’s sometimes questionable how this brand doesn’t get more attention. Max Mara gave a special interesting accent in casual details when it came to the folding and draping of the materials. Although there was not a huge wow factor in the collection or a wide range of color (except for that popping yellow in some pieces), the storytelling was clear and in line with what the brand is trying to present to its customer. Max Mara is all about femininity and sophistication and you could appreciate that most of its pieces were wearable indeed.
Later that same day, there was some special concern about what Fendi was going to propose for its new SS2019 collection. The logo mania trend at Fendi has been going on for some time, to the point that it’s been getting the wrong comments by most fashion critics and so people were concerned about what the brand was going to show this time. Luckily, Fendi made the right turn by showing an effortless, elegant, urban and sophisticated collection for once. The amounts of logo shown were very discreet in a way that you could actually pay attention to the effort put into the production of the clothes. Fendi is particularly starting to build a certain aesthetic with fur, see-throughs and flowy silhouettes that very much resembles a fresh image for the brand. Moreover, Prada had yet another collection that was impressive. It was very unique how the brand is playing with big shapes, head accessories and socks down the runway making finally every look head to toe wearable. On the other hand, Prada is also another luxury brand that has fallen into the obsession of playing with the same trends that everyone is playing with like neon colors, bike shorts, and logos when it should be paying a little bit more attention to the image portrayed to its own customer. Although you have to give some credit to the brand that has changed its focus since their profits plunged by almost 30% in 2015, there is still a lot to catch up on. Prada is known for being a brand that is self-referential and it cannot lose that image for a lack of fresh new ideas.
Moving over to a show that as always gave everybody something to talk about that night, we have Moschino. Jeremy Scott has lately been doing wonders for the brand and he’s an example of a designer that doesn’t let trends determine the image of the brand and never forgets to portray what Moschino came to do in the fashion industry. The concept that was offered this time was centered in the work that a designer does for a collection from the sketches, and the idea not only brought humor to the audience (one of the values of the brand) but also elegant and expensive looks that could actually become wearable. Talking about wearable clothes, Salvatore Ferragamo focused this time on its real customer: older women. It was quite surprising to see the iconic Stella Tennant open the show along with other older models. Ferragamo will always be timeless, and to be honest, it was very clever to give attention for once to its older audience. Let’s not forget that not everything has to be 100% meant for younger generations. In contrast, Roberto Cavalli stepped out of its throne. When you think about the identity of Cavalli, you think about the wild, exotic and almost feline nature kind of woman that buys the brand. Especially during the 90s, Roberto Cavalli was known for its sex-appeal in clothing and everybody expected that image to prevail, until the disappointment of this season. The thing is, a mistake that most Italian brands are making is that they feel the need to boost their sales through a massive following of trends (even if those can’t be applied to the image of the brand) or the strong use of celebrity models like the Hadid sisters to bring an audience. The problem with this, specifically with the abusive application of trends, is that luxury brands are no longer unique, because they suddenly become easily imitated, and sadly most of the pieces found at shows such as Roberto Cavalli will be easily found for way much less at the Zara or Mango stores.
Talking about sex-appeal and the women empowerment from Versace, Donatella led a show that didn’t have too much to talk about. We’ve seen and noticed that she went through some of Versace’s archives for inspiration, but it was a mistake to look into those from 1993 when the brand was not doing well. It makes no sense to go back to the 90’s by choosing the wrong pieces and it felt as if Donatella had forgotten that her brother not only wanted to give power to women but to also a sense of somehow beauty and love for life. We’ve recently learned that Versace might get acquired by Michael Kors, and the idea of Gianni Versace’s work getting altered by the future opinion of an American conglomerate is frightening and will probably give a new meaning to what Italian luxury will mean in the future.
Closing this Milan Fashion Week (pretty much), was Dolce & Gabbana. Honestly, during the show, there were moments of cleverness, where you could really appreciate the intricate craftsmanship and there were moments where you just got lost because there was way too much going on in every look. It was like some pieces were thrown together without thinking about the aesthetic and there was less self-awareness for the sophistication that Domenico and Stefano were looking for. Although you could say that Dolce & Gabbana is right now the outlier out of all Italian brands (along with Gucci) who are not desperately following every trend, the only storytelling that has been told over and over by the brand has been the fact that D&G is proudly Italian, which is good, unless it looks uninspired and insipid despite so much puffiness going on in the picture… and that is exactly what happened.
Finally, there has been a lot to analyze during this Milan Fashion Week season. Italian brands are still going strong but they’re surprisingly following international (tacky) trends too much. There has to be a bigger reason behind the emergence of some trends (the unflattering ones) these days but let’s just hope that brands don’t forget that italianity can only take you that far if you fall for commercial desperation with a thud.