Best of Milan Fashion Week: heads off to Gucci, kudos to labels that gave tired catwalk shows a pass
Models walking like cyborgs with severed heads under their arms gave Gucci’s show a ghoulish feel, but the clothes were to die for; Versace is still on a roll, Ferragamo has become the Italian Hermès, and Shanghai Tang sold subtlety
From severed heads at Gucci to China-made fur, here’s what happened at Milan Fashion Week
The mega brand staged a blockbuster show at its sprawling headquarters on the outskirts of Milan, transformed this time into a setting that looked like a hospital or perhaps a mental asylum. Sullen-looking models carried extremely lifelike severed heads that were exact replicas of their expressionless faces, not to mention snakes and dragons that replaced handbags on the arms of these “Gucci cyborgs”, as the show notes described them.
The clothes, however, made up for the creepy shenanigans and the show was in fact much more subdued than what we’ve seen in recent seasons. A quick post-show visit to the brand’s buzzing flagship store on Via Montenapoleone suggested Gucci mania shows no signs of abating any time soon. Dresses in lush velvet and manga-printed sweaters are likely already to be on the shopping lists of every “Gucci Gang” member out there.
Shanghai Tang offers elegance with an Asian touch
US designer Tommy Hilfiger, who in the past has shown his TommyxGigi range in collaboration with model Gigi Hadid in New York, London and Los Angeles, capped off the week with a car-racing-inspired extravaganza made for the Instagram generation.
A more low-key debut in Milan was that of Hong Kong label Shanghai Tang, which unveiled its first line designed by former Ferragamo creative director Massimiliano Giornetti, who had previously designed a capsule collection for the house.
The brand, which luxury group Richemont sold last year to Italian investor Alessandro Bastagli, offered a tasteful vision of an elegant Milanese wardrobe with Asian flourishes, featuring embroidered outfits in a muted palette of black and relaxed takes on Chinese garments, such as quilted coats with Mandarin collars.
Fendi and Chinese go for fur
While plenty of brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and even Gucci and Armani have stopped using fur, Milan Fashion Week was having none of that. The real thing was front and centre at furrier par excellence Fendi, which unveiled a very sophisticated line-up of separates and logo-centric pieces made of luxurious pelts.
An even bigger statement came from Fashion Haining, a Chinese leather and fur company based in the city of Haining, China’s largest fur and leather production centre (it claims to account for 50 per cent of fur and leather production in the country). The company held a cocktail event that was on the official fashion week schedule, showcasing fur-heavy outfits from brands such as Xuebao to the international style set.
Is the fashion show becoming an outdated and ineffective way to present new clothes? After sitting through a whole lot of routine shows in Milan, it’s definitely something worth pondering. Unless you have the ingenuity – and the budget – of brands such as Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger and Dolce & Gabbana, staging a ho-hum catwalk show doesn’t cut it any more.
It was certainly more enjoyable to see clothes and accessories up close at intimate presentations such as the ones staged by hot brands Attico, For Restless Sleepers, Blazé Milano and La Double JJ. Kudos to them for keeping it small and simple.
What people were talking about
The Prada collection felt a bit like Miuccia Prada’s greatest hits, but there were plenty of things to admire, chief among them a series of outfits in neon hues that closed the show.
The house of Versace is still on a roll and the brand’s glamorous offering – and equally glamorous casting – was yet another example of what the label does best. Some may find the hijab-like headscarves on some of the models problematic but they were actually chic and au courant.
Ferragamo, normally a sleeper in Milan, had a very good season, thanks to its new womenswear creative director Paul Andrew, who executed a successful attempt to turn the leather-goods house into the Italian Hermès.
Dolce & Gabbana’s tongue-in-cheek ode to fashion victims was a pleasure to watch, and Francesco Risso’s third ready-to-wear collection for Marni was his best since he took the helm of the brand.