How do you follow a PR coup like the Queen? Well, Milan had a damn good go - here's the lowdown on severed heads, flying bags and all the other things that made us go 'ooooh' at Milan Fashion Week...
The Queen’s first-ever fashion show appearance, at LFW last week, had jaws dropping the world over. It was, to put it bluntly, the PR coup of the century – for young designer Richard Quinn and for London fashion in general. Huzzah! But not so huzzah for Milan Fashion Week, following hot on the heels of such a major headline moment. But never ones to hang back and pipe down, the Italians rose to the challenge – and we mean literally, in the case of some Dolce bags – of making us sit up and take notice. It seemed as if many designers were grappling with the idea of the future, technology, and also ways of dressing to empower ourselves in the fairly scary present. In another city, this might have led us down the dark path of intellectual tailoring and a funereal colour palette. But this is Milano! Instead the results involved neon, baby dragons and an incoming global sequin shortage thanks to Dolce & Gabbana having used them all up for AW18. For pure spectacle and star power, there was also the latest Formula One-infused incarnation of Tommy Hilfiger’s TOMMYNOW show , starring Gigi Hadid and her last ever capsule for the brand. Here are the Milan Fashion Week moments we’re still talking about…
The Aliens Have Landed
The epic Gucci show called to mind Game of Thrones, but set in a sinister science lab of the future – via a whistlestop tour of a few centuries and cultures (Russian folk, English tweed, Indochine…). Apparently the model cradling a baby dragon like a newborn baby and the ones carrying replicas of their own heads reflected Michele’s exploration of our relationship with technology and our ability to reinvent our own identities. He name-checked a weighty tome called “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century,” but we don’t need a degree in AI to know that this collection will provide us (and the high street) with endless inspiration for AW18.
Dolce’s flying bags and ‘Fashion Devotion’
Meanwhile, over at Dolce & Gabbana, the designers mixed even more lavishly crucifix-laden Catholic references than usual (presumably in tribute to this year’s Met Ball theme) with a high-tech feat. Their new It bag, flying along the catwalk on drones, controlled by a man in a white suit. This was the reason for the (very) late start, causing Anna Wintour to stomp out before the show began. Or did she? A little bird told us the real reason for her sharp exit was actually that she had a flight to catch to Rome, for a meeting with the Vatican, ahead of the Met Ball. And even Anna couldn’t keep a Pope waiting. At Moschino, Jeremy Scott’s ‘futuristic retrofuture’ show saw alien-looking versions of Jackie O marching along with pastel-painted faces and bouffant hair. Apparently he was thinking about the spread of conspiracy theories in times of political turmoil, immigration and the status of illegal immigrants as ‘aliens’. Who knew a pillbox hat could carry so much meaning?
The Future is Bright
Miuccia was on her usual mission to dissect and subvert notions of a woman’s place in the world. In the season of #MeToo, this took the form of a violent take on ‘feminine’ pink – turned up to fluoro – and a hefty dose of padded takes on high-vis workwear, layered over and under Prada classics like tweed and Fifties flared skirt shapes. Of particular practical use in our new wardrobe of protective armour – the seriously stomping fluoro welly/galoshes. If they don’t give you power, we don’t know what will. If you want to be the kind of girl who never gets lost in a crowd, there were other attention-grabbing neons and brights aplenty, like the sporty acid green and pink at MSGM.
After a rocky first few seasons, new Marni creative director Francesco Risso (who had a pretty tricky act to follow, taking over from founding genius Consuelo Castiglioni) has hit his groove. In a BIG way. That’s right, the fashion insiders’ favourite label is back on form and entering a brilliant new era. It started with the set – a typically Marni mash-up that evoked a souk somewhere in North Africa, with seating fashioned from stacks of kelims, huge bundles of old newspapers and rolls of foam (a bit like trying to balance on a Pilates ball, we found to our cost).
The collection was a dazzling melange of futuristic – high-shine coats, tech-nerd backpacks and towering trainers – and the hand-crafted. One coat was spliced together using a fabric that looked like compressed, recycled lint – a lot more beautiful than it sounds when the other half is fuchsia wool – there were trailing feather earrings that flew out nearly to the waist, and tribal tan leather belts with trailing tassels. The sequinned finale dresses – again spliced together from different colours and fabrics – were literal perfection.
Hello and Goodbye
At Salvatore Ferragamo, we were nervous for new creative director Paul Andrew, making his debut – he’s a footwear designer who’s never done clothes! We needn’t have worried. His new take on the understated luxury of the classic Italian house was cool, in a subtle way. The tailoring was still sharp, but the shoulders were on-trend-80s oversized, and he cleverly used archive-print Ferragamo silk foulards to create shirt dresses.
Milan’s final hurrah was also Gigi’s final hurrah for Tommy Hilfiger. The label celebrated its brand-new sponsorship of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team and the last Gigi x Tommy collection with a red, white and blue racetrack extravaganza. There was a stadium (well, actually a conference centre), there were sports cars, there was a shop on the catwalk, there were supers galore – Bella and Anwar Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Winnie Harlow to name a few – and there was Lewis Hamilton. Of course.
Next stop, Paris Fashion Week…stay tuned for all the latest news and trends.