When it comes to the Big Four fashion weeks, Milan is notable for keeping things close to home. Many of the biggest brands on the schedule have purpose-built show spaces in which to present their collections and many of the major fashion houses still have descendants at the helm (Angela Missoni, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Miuccia Prada and Veronica Etro to name a few), proving that the Milanese fashion scene is a family affair. In recent years, that family has been growing. The Autumn-Winter 2019 collections were the largest number to date, with 179 on the schedule.
A wonderful calm seemed to settle over Milan this season. Perhaps it had to do with the gorgeous sun and clear skies that graced the Italian fashion capital, but la dolce vita was the order of the week.
The week began on a somber note, especially at Fendi. Karl Lagerfeld, the house’s creative director for 54 years passed away two days before the show. Under Lagerfeld’s direction, Fendi grew from a traditional family-run furrier, into the billion-euro business it is today. Silvia Venturini Fendi wrote that it was fashion’s longest love story. His final collection was presented and it contained a unique poignancy. Many of Lagerfeld’s favorite models walked the runway with tears in their eyes and hair arranged in low ponytails reminiscent of the late designer’s hairstyle. It was a beautiful show, with autumnal tones on crisp jackets and loosely woven mesh tops. Whether punctuated by a bright yellow slicker or a soft teal pleated skirt, the whimsical bows and high-collared sheer blouses left no doubt that Lagerfeld pulled out all of the stops for what would be his last show.
The 2019 fall collections unveiled that the designer trend was edged from showing a little more of the female, to showing an extraordinary amount of leg. Micro miniskirts and thigh-high slits were featured by several designers, including Versace, Roberto Cavalli, Etro, Moschino, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini and Abodi. Curiously, Prada, which built its entire 2013 line around the look, went for a more traditional and conservative approach, even as it continues to make inroads into the high-end millennial market.
Yet, of all the curiosities that appeared in the fall collections during Fashion Week, it must be glittering ruby red crystal shoes and dresses that were the most peculiar. There were red crystal shoes from both Miuccia Prada and Jimmy Choo. There were red crystal mesh dresses at Emporio Armani and a red crystal skirt at Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini. Dolce & Gabbana eschewed the crystals and had instead, a red sequined dress and a pair of twinkling red shoes. It was as though the designs stocked up at an after-Christmas Swarovski crystal sale.
Gucci shocked everyone, which is not a shock at all. At least this year, nobody screamed. After skipping last year in Milan and two years ago featuring an operating room cat walk (which did cause a few involuntary screams, several nightmares and numerous therapy sessions), this year models wore Halloween masks (from the movie, rather than the charming trick or treat event). Those that did not cover their faces wore spiked necklaces that evoked a simpler time (like the Spanish Inquisition). Aside from the shock element, the lines of the clothing were traditional, with textured fabrics and snakeskin featuring prominently. Lovely loose trousers and jewel-toned collages of tunics and scarves suggested a more relaxed and freeform approach for the design house.
Moschino played to the theatrical, with an amusing presentation stage of “The Price is Right.” With the show’s theme song playing, the curtain rose to display a glittery game-show set. The extravaganza was intended to be a lot of fun and was filled with looks that varied from flirty to inspired to downright kitschy.
After years of designing for many famous labels, Marco Zanini made his debut collection to great acclaim, ranging from minimalist, Halston-esque ensembles to highly detailed statements, fashioned in exquisite materials. Zanini’s suits and dresses do not look like they have come off an assembly line. Evidence of the handwork is everywhere.
So what were the other trends that came out of the week in Milan?
Bold shoulder shapes that call to mind the power blazers of the ’80s continue to have a place on the runway. In contrast to the oversized fit seen elsewhere, Milan’s designers opted to pair bold shoulders with neatly nipped-in waists, providing a balance to the silhouette. Pleated skirts in various forms were also on display in several collections.
Plaid has never really gone away, but designers stepped it up this season and proved its versatility for fall. There were sheer plaids at Emporio Armani, deconstructed plaid dresses at Marni, mixed-print plaid coats at Alexandra Moura and a number of unique plaid ensembles at Versace. Additionally, polka dots proved to be another timeless pattern, employed in various guise by Dolce & Gabbana, in a sexy translucent tulle at Alberta Ferretti, in a power-clashing print at Moncler and in a pattern actually made of raised stones at Marni.
While New York designers showed their preference for the ruffled collar this season, their Italian counterparts opted for bows. Whether intended as romantic (at MSGM), or playful (Fendi), these collars make necklaces completely unnecessary.
For those who have not viewed any of the movies from the Matrix series in a while, you would have recognized the inspiration for a number of designers. The iconic black leather style began making a comeback last year and is still going strong, with brands like Alberta Ferretti, Byblos and Bottega Veneta showcasing the look in outerwear. Finally, as was evident to anyone who watched the Academy Awards, capes are not just for royalty or superheroes any more. Suffice it to say that capes add a dramatic factor to any outfit, which took a variety of forms on the runway this season, from Prada’s romantic lace versions to Missoni’s poncho-like ones to Salvatore Ferragamo’s black leather iteration. All in all, it was quite a week in Milan.