Strength, glamour, modernity, and sophistication were the recurring words uttered during Milan Fashion Week. And even though you wondered after a while whether models and critics were simply throwing around and repeating words, it was clear that thematic changes were at play. The girl-like, frivolous look of spring had evolved into a more somber, darkly sophisticated one, with designers showing this shift in varying degrees.
Ever the intellectual, Miuccia Prada said that she’s tired of being sweet. “We women should go back to strength â€” and the sober side. Stop trying to appeal to everyone, and go out into the world.â€? Monotonic clothes drawn from a dark palette, some with fur trimmings and animal prints graced the runways. Sweaters and jackets tended to engulf the wearer, and layering was a key look. Corseted tops and conical bra shapes didn’t suggest sexiness as much it did a rough edginess. Devoid of trimmings, the collection was hard, firm, and authoritative, suggesting that the world these women are going out into is one that requires them to be that way.
Over at Gucci, the romantic summer look had given way to a sophisticated, glam-rock one. To the David Bowie like made-up eyes to clothes that were bright, flashy, extremely short or extremely long, and with necklines to down there, the Gucci girl went out to the world just as confident and commanding as the Prada girl. But she’s also one that wants to have fun, and of course she won’t be easily placated.
Versace, too, focused on strength with Donatella describing her collection as one for â€œstrong women who want to look forward.â€? Knee high boots, dark leggings, a navy blue palette, sunglasses, and heavily made eyes evoked a glamorous edginess. Cleavage was gone, and in its place were clean, well-cut coats and dresses that hugged the body without screaming sex. Vibrantly colored, shiny dresses weren’t encumbered with details, but instead were intricately wrapped and possessed a light, effortless flow.
The Marni girl has also evolved, but not as dramatically as what we saw at Prada. She still looked innocent and young, but also a little more grown up. There were few embellishments and the playfulness came from the mixing of colors. Blacks and grays were incorporated well into the color scheme, and there was a very light, relaxed feel to it all. Comfort, for Marni, is vital when going out into the world. This idea was also at work at Missoni, whose clothes were light, loose, and softly voluminous, perfect for easy movement.
Austerity and severity were at its height at Jil Sander. Many outfits were male pieces translated for a woman’s body. At first glance it looked very basic, but there was a lot of play with shape, volume, and line. Once again the idea of a strong, intellectual woman was important here as well, but unlike the layering present at Prada, stripping away the extra was how Raf Simons’ interpretation.
This was Burberry‘s first show in Milan, but it remained a very British collection, perfectly balancing somber, traditionalism with a playful, rock & roll edge. Fur was big, and though designer Christopher Bailey said that it has been a key part of Burberry’s history, here it was used to update looks, particularly the trench. Emphasis on the waist was still strong, while ruffles and eyelets helped to add frivolity. The import of Burberry, however, also made one question other things. While London and New York are consistently bringing in young designers, Italy has yet to see some new blood of its own. The masters are still good, but where’s everyone else?