Milan Fashion Week

Milan Fashion Week: Dolce & Gabbana and Jil Sander look to their pasts to create a new future

The theme of revisiting past collections seems to be gathering momentum, with more brands harking back to older eras in bid to attract the attention of millennials, while holding on to existing fans

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 4:34pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 September, 2017, 7:56pm

In London and Milan, many brands’ spring-summer collections have been looking to their roots. This could be to sidestep the constant pressure on designers (such as Burberry and J.W. Anderson) to reinvent the wheel each season, to reaffirm a brand’s aesthetic (Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana), or for new design directors to understand the heritage of their roles (Jil Sander).

Dolce & Gabbana

Dolce & Gabbana picked some of their greatest hits from past collections, such as the sensuous la dolce vita black lingerie looks first seen on the original supermodels, the precious baroque embroideries, and the Sicilian fruit and vegetable prints on prom dresses. It was a way of introducing the brand’s signatures to a new millennial audience who probably weren’t even born when Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce sent out their first collections.

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This season, a secret fashion show for an invited millennial audience was held the night before the main catwalk event to help expose a new generation to the Dolce & Gabbana aesthetic.

The show felt familiar to those who know the brand, but was fresh and fun for new fans. Looks were filled with humour as seen in the pack of card prints, evening dresses printed with cabbages, peas, carrots and hot dogs, and the jaunty crowns, tiaras and regal jewels worn by models.

What felt particularly new were the billowing (there were wind machines on the catwalk) printed chiffon dresses and harem pants evocative of Capri and Portofino holiday glamour.

Jil Sander

You couldn’t find a more contrasting aesthetic to the exuberance of Dolce & Gabbana than that of cool German minimalist Jil Sander. Now a Milan-based brand, the spring collection was almost spiritual in its presentation of pure white cotton shirting and priest-like surplices and stripped back, modernist tailoring.

Jil Sander was founded in 2000 and has experienced a few major changes with the designer leaving three times in 13 years. Raf Simons came and went, and more recently Rodolfo Paglialunga. The new designers, who’ve been digging through the archives since joining in April, are husband and wife team Lucie and Luke Meier. Luke was head of design at dynamic street wear label Supreme, while Lucie co-led Christian Dior after Raf Simons’ departure in 2015.

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This Jil Sander collection felt closest to the spirit of the original designer with pared back looks, a tightly edited palette and an easy tailored silhouette with narrow shoulders, creased arms and slit panelled coats, sometimes seen over long shirtdresses. It was a promising start and it will be interesting to see how it develops.