Luke Leitch, Contributing Editor
When times are tough, what do you do? Prada, almost always the bellwether of the season, looked inward. As Ms. Prada said, she searched for smallness to undercut bigness. This was strange, because Prada is almost the biggest brand—and certainly has the biggest reputation—in all of fashion. So this season’s collection seemed almost apologetic. The buyers will be delighted, though—as were many of the mainstream men’s magazine editors I spoke to—because it was both highly shootable and wearable.
More assertive, far more, was Jeremy Scott at Moschino. As we did a Facebook Live video after his show, Scott’s voice cracked when he urged you, me, anyone to start writing to their congressmen and women to defend the rights that the incoming president has committed to undo. The collection, spoken in fashionese, was dark with warning and gloomy portend. And the insertion of Judy Blame’s gleaming mundanities, made beautiful because of the eye more than the subject, was inspired.
At Zegna the arrival of Alessandro Sartori was a big deal for another brand in flux. I really enjoyed the clothes but thought the production was oversize. Zegna might be the biggest single menswear brand in the world, but each customer has an intimate relationship with their clothes. This should be reflected on the runway. Up close in Florence, Zegna’s cousin brand, Z Zegna, was far more approachable.
Photo: Courtesy of Federico Curradi
A few more points. Federico Curradi is an interesting newcomer; a barefoot-modeled, ecologically aware brand is a rare thing in Milan. I wish I hadn’t missed Damir Doma—unavoidably—who is one of the strongest artistic designers here. If I died and went to heaven, I’d wear Brunello Cucinelli, Missoni, and Massimo Alba every day. With Car Shoes.
Amy Verner, Contributing Editor
Luke, I can confirm you missed yet another evocative show from Damir. Having written about him when he was still installed in Paris, I was pleased to see the merging of his men’s and women’s collections; he’s set out to live by the notion of Always for Love without such presumed naïveté appearing in the clothes.
I suppose I was most curious to see how Marni would fare post–Consuelo Castiglioni’s departure, especially since the final collection under her direction seemed so on message. So what if the clothes looked a little Prada—creative director Francesco Risso is an alum, after all. The real takeaway was how much his high-style coder persona fit nicely into a geeks-shall-inherit vision of the future. But unlike the usual archetype, these guys had attitude and have every intention of going out. Now we wait to see how Risso envisions the women.
Here is where I backtrack to point out that this was my first men’s Fashion Week in Milan. No jaded views yet no previous seasons to measure against. So the fact that Canali opted for a presentation over a show, allowing people contact with the fabrics—so wondrously soft and weightless—seemed like a no-brainer to me, never mind the Dario Marianelli score filling the space as part of Ivan Cotroneo’s poetic film backtracking through the construction of a jacket.
Marianelli’s music piped through the winter scene at Moncler Gamme Bleu, where Thom Browne’s concept of mountain climbing meant lacing the models’ legs together so they trudged through faux snow. As they were doing so, I tried to imagine all the real-world uses of a jacket covered in carabiners and couldn’t really come up with any, aside from clipping myself into place on the Paris Métro to avoid touching the poles. Which makes me realize that the beaver fur beards would be cool cough guards.
Germ phobias aside: Lee Wood is going to ensure that Dirk Bikkembergs doesn’t descend back into tacky, but a complete brand turnaround is going to require a lot more than a respectable runway show.
Nick Remsen, Contributing Editor
Luke, regarding your point about Prada seeming almost apologetic: At the show, my thoughts veered toward . . . let’s call them vagaries in chronology. Weird time warps. Here was Prada designing for later this year, but with such a plainly ’70s time stamp. So ’70s, in fact, that it didn’t seem, and still doesn’t seem, very fresh—the decade and its duds have been done to death. I think I told you this over WhatsApp, but it had me imagining what my dad would’ve worn on a freak cold day in Hawaii in 1976 (which was odd, because my dad is from New York). Prada’s contemporary twists—or even post-contemporary, as they reminded me of the consequences of gene splicing—were in her freaky little details, like fur-covered whelk necklaces. Those I liked.
There were other moments of temporal turmoil. At Moschino, Jeremy Scott took Renaissance frescoes and clashed them with futuristic robotic space battles. At Malibu 1992, the new sportswear label from Dorian Stefano Tarantini, the edgy outerwear felt very modern, almost pioneering even, but Tarantini was inspired by ’90s-era Blumarine and Milanese nightlife from that same decade. Armani took tried-and-true tailoring from the ’80s and enlivened it with innovative wrapped accents, like “sleeve scarves.” I hadn’t seen those before. Even Fendi gave me Margot Tenenbaum early-2000s vibes with a perhaps prescient, as-yet-to-arrive cleanness apparent, too.
Dolce & Gabbana tried to seize the moment, our now, by hosting a cast of dozens of social media–famous faces. The best thing about this show was its excellent choreography and production. But the big splash didn’t really do it for me; the intent fell flat. I thought to myself, over-dramatically: “Social media is dead.” It’s not; there were hundreds of people outside of Cameron Dallas’s hotel. But it makes you think, with our present being so muddied and uncertain and ID-less, in a way, perhaps that’s what drove Milan’s creatives to pull more so from the past and the unknown.
Tiziana Cardini, Contributing Editor
My Milanese Fashion Week always starts in Florence at Pitti, which I always look forward to because the guys there are doing a tremendous job; they’re smart and cool and always with the finger on the pulse. After all, before flying all the applauding fashion flock over to exotic Kaliningrad for his extravaganza, Gosha Rubchinskiy had his first grand fashion show staged in a quite Soviet-looking Florentine location just last season, thanks to the always-alert Pitti guys. So, hey! Please stop thinking that the Italian fashion sense is as modern as the Colosseum.
On menswear, Florence and Milan are more and more working as a continuum, which I really think is great. Florence has the incommensurable bonus of mind-blowing locations, which often become the set for exquisite, cultured fashion exhibitions like the one Angelo Flaccavento curated this season for Kiton. I’d love to see more of the same spirit here in Milano—fashion people love to be entertained, and to be thrown a juicy bone to pick. A good controversy goes a long way. But no worries, Milano will get there.
Talking of controversial, of course, Miuccia is the undisputed Queen, ça va sans dire. I have to say that I’m totally partial to her taste, and not just because I’m Milanese. I just love it—in whatsoever form. Not much of a fashion critique here, I’m afraid. I’m always amused by her perverse thinking and her twisted intellectual mockery; the way she’s able to keep everybody on their toes guessing what she’s thinking is just too brilliant. Yet what never fails to fascinate me is the sublime good taste of her quirk. And the clothes! At every single Prada show—men’s or women’s, it makes no difference—the feeling I have is probably the same that Ulysses had when listening to the Sirens. Better I’d be glued to the seat, if not I’d run to the store and buy everything immediately, in irrepressible see-now-buy-now mode, flagging my exhausted credit card.
This long preamble is just to say that I loved her men’s show; I just can’t resist a good rendition of the ’70s, and hers was the best I’ve seen of the many silly ones that have populated the catwalks from the beginning of fashion time. I didn’t find it apologetic one bit—apologies just don’t seem to suit her.
Which leads me to the following consideration. Unfortunately, working with a genius doesn’t make you one. As Sigmund Freud always stressed, to really give birth to your true creative self, you’ve got to get rid of the mother, or of the father, inside you. Francesco Risso at Marni should consider such advice—not that he has to undergo any kind of psychoanalysis, he seems perfectly sane and his talent is obvious. His many years at Prada are a tremendous bonus, a privilege that many designers of his generation can only dream of. Marni also has a fabulous pedigree and a story full of the finest quirk. He’s got a stellar vocabulary from both sides. Which means that the guy had to deal not only with one, but with two mothers here, so I guess the burden for him could’ve been quite substantial. No wonder that in his first outing the references were aplenty—easily traceable for a Prada fanatic like this writer who can reference every single collection since the beginning of the Prada-sphere. Yet now Risso’s got to find the chops to get rid of both ladies, one way or another. His first Marni show had a sort of demented, poetic freshness that was as irritating as it was appealing—it felt totally bonkers and totally his own, and that is the peculiar style that I think he should build upon. I really look forward to seeing him flying at full force the banner of his new whimsy, and seeing it develop an unadulterated, original vision. Milano definitely needs it.
I’m back to pick up where Tiziana left off. Because I sense that Sunnei’s Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo have the potential to shift the perception of Milanese fashion. They understand the importance of polish, but they express it with cool irreverence. The J’adorerei Sunnei speaks more to their interest in co-opting existing codes (in this case, Dior) than being stylistically (or grammatically) correct. I would also like to take this moment to applaud Cédric Charlier for not only making the leap into menswear, but also for adapting the fashion calendar to his needs versus sticking to the status quo. He showed his full Fall ’17 women’s collection simultaneously; and while this presents some benefits, it is not risk-free. But this is what creativity—whether in clothes or in business—is all about.
Okay, so it’s looping back to me. I’ve just seen a strong Giorgio Armani show and a really impressive Milan debut from three designers on the Camera Della Moda’s New Generation initiative. This is the menswear equivalent of the Who Is on Next? events that happen here during womenswear—which were spearheaded by Franca Sozzani, the Editor in Chief of Italian Vogue who died in December. Looking at the three collections today—please check out Moto Guo—plus considering Curradi, Nick’s impressions of Malibu 1992, Amy’s of Sunnei, plus my fond memories of Sansovino 6 back in Florence, all makes me think that this was a solid Italian season for presenting potential. To paraphrase Silvia Venturini Fendi backstage, without optimism and positivity, you’re scuppered; Italian fashion has good grounds for both. Now, where’s my passport?
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