Modern femininity and beautiful realism are, surprisingly, Milan’s strong suit, with the best collections about real life, though the inspiration may be historic.
Fendi cite Marie Antoinette, with bows, cutwork embroidery, aprons and brocade, but the layers, stripes and sporty sock boots are right now. Prada’s film noir backdrop is a modern version, as is the workwear – Mad Men loosened up with plastic shoes, rubber patches and detachable ostrich feathers. Marni’s architectural layers and detachable pocket-bags are modern but the fabrics - matt linen, spriggy prints, Grecian pleats, rope drawstrings - are artisanally ancient.
Pleats are modern women’s travelling saviour, appearing at Pucci, Jil Sander and Ferragamo. They, like Marni, also favour the wider, rounder shoulder line kicked off last season by Vetements and Céline. Bottega Veneta, celebrating its half-century, modernises restrained dresses and trenches with sporty studs and buckles, while Versace’s sportiness has attitude, from parachute-silk drawstring parkas to chequered flag knits.
Italy’s high-craft heritage is excess all areas, even when it works. Gucci adds more beading, embroidery, tinsel, pink and pearls than ever, yet simple suits and Medieval-illuminated dresses stand out. Roberto Cavalli and Etro go head-to-head on embroidery and print respectively, somewhere between Coachella and Marrakech circa 1973. Tropico Italiano is Dolce & Gabbana’s exuberant celebration of their country, from dresses printed with tomato cans (Warhol?) to braided bandsmen’s jackets and flashing tiaras from a religious statue procession, and street dancers from Naples.
Tropical is a big print theme, from palm and bamboo leaves at MaxMara and tribal abstracts at Pucci to dreamy landscapes and idling boats on blue seas at Stella Jean and Marco de Vincenzo. Maybe not so modern, but timeless, wearable and pleasing.
Click on the gallery to enlarge