The fashion giants assemble with fond looks back and Gucci in pursuit of a big bangs theory
Gucci's Alessandro Michele last week unveiled a loud and proud ode to the 1980s on the opening day of the Milan Fashion Week, with big bangs, square suits and enough sequins to drown a disco.
Michele burrowed further into his love for the bookish chic that has led the once-flagging house to enjoy white-hot success since he took creative control in 2015.
Gucci’s spring-summer 2018 collection had plenty of large round glasses, satin and even a striped and shiny tracksuit.
The idea guiding the show, according to Michele, was a refusal “to turn the page and stubbornly dwelling on a narration that consolidates on the beauty of the show”.
That meant a runway best described as Atlantis on a foggy night, set among massive sculptures of some of humanity’s greatest symbols including a smiling Buddha and Thoth, ancient Egypt’s long-beaked god of magic and wisdom.
The clothes were confident in their embrace of the past, including a satin outfit trimmed in sequin stars that looked like something out of David Bowie’s wardrobe.
There was also a brown three-piece suit that you could almost imagine in a faded Kodachrome photo – except that the model wearing it had slick white shades and hands encrusted in rings.
The show was Gucci’s first since Kering announced a pledge earlier this month to ban ultra-thin models from its brands’ advertising and runways. Judging by appearances, it seems to have kept its word.
Donatella Versace authored the defining moment of Milan Fashion Week on Friday with a blockbuster show honouring her late brother Gianni. It closed with a surprise supermodel reunion that brought the cheering crowd to its feet.
Security guards had to brush back the audience when it rushed the catwalk once a white curtain at the head of the room peeled back at the show’s close to reveal the guests of honour.
Out stepped Cindy Crawford, Carla Bruni, Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen and Claudia Schiffer in gold lame as the George Michael anthem “Freedom ’90” pounded from the sound system.
All the women – now in their 40s or 50s – had worked with Gianni during their years on the runway.
There were his iconic baroque designs on dress and trouser combinations, a glittering number bearing Andy Warhol’s pop-art Marilyn Monroe and rock ’n ’roll leather adorned with shimmering tassels.
Broad, square-shouldered suits, tight pastel-coloured velour-looking dresses as well as swimsuits adorned with sea stars and shells defined the collection.
Gianni Versace was shot dead on the steps of his Miami Beach mansion in 1997. The gunman took his own life days later, after an inexplicable crime spree that left at least five dead.
Giorgio Armani’s show earlier on Friday aimed for the same determined joy, which flew in the face of a world that seems dogged by disaster at the moment – some natural and some man-made.
The clothes he sent down the runway were bright and modern, all vivid prints and crisp cuts.
What was not there was outrage over Donald Trump, fear that North Korea’s cold war might get hot and no trace of the carnage left by a string of earthquakes and monster hurricanes.
“It’s not because it’s a sad moment that I have to make women sad on the runway,” the veteran designer told reporters after the show.
Impressionist paintings – but no one in particular – drove him to create a collection with plenty of flowers, bright silky pinks and lots of sequins.
On the catwalk there were plenty of small jackets, short dresses with sloping hemlines and luminous pleated skirts. The models also showed off vertiginous, see-through high heels.
Gauzy jacket and trouser suits embellished with bright designs as well as silky green or silver skirts were major themes.
Salvatore Ferragamo gave the finger to the gathered glitterati on Saturday as the backdrop for the label’s glitz-and-glam runway show.
The finger in this case was the notorious massive marble sculpture outside Milan’s stock exchange of an outstretched middle digit that has sparked debate in the Italian fashion capital.
But there was no mention by organisers of the artwork looming over the show, which was all bright colours, exotic materials and vertiginous high heels – not exactly a statement of aggression.
The sculpture, by Italy’s most famous living artist, Maurizio Cattelan,
is titled “L.O.V.E”. But it has been criticised as being anti-capitalist due to its location, something the artist denies.
When asked about the collection, creative head for women’s ready-to-wear Fulvio Rigoni stuck to the clothes, saying, “The idea was of taking different pieces from different VIP clients of Salvatore Ferragamo last century and mixing them up.”
The hand-painted python skin, flapper-type dresses bursting with tassels and satin gowns at Ferragamo, were the antithesis of the collection unveiled earlier by minimalist label Jil Sander.
Husband and wife duo Luke and Lucie Meier’s first show at the creative helm of the German-founded house sent models down a spare outdoor runway wearing the white, flowing garb of a mystic, offering an antidote to the fashion-week flash.
The designs were an embrace of “purity – we’re not interested in excess at all”, Canadian Luke Meier told reporters after the show.
There was also a suggestion of innocence in the designs, with a handbag made to look like a schoolboy’s books wrapped in a leather strap, and suits big enough to look like adult clothes on children playing dress up.
The Meiers, a rare married duo of co-directors, come from Dior (for her) and Paris-based menswear brand OAMC via iconic streetwear label Supreme (for him).
At the other end of the spectrum, Bottega Veneta had Hollywood star Lauren Hutton bobbing her head to hip-hop earlier in the day as it showed off a playful, nightclub-ready collection heavy on jewels, mirrors and fringe.
The venerable Venetian outfit transformed a warren of rooms and halls at the Palazzo Archinto into a sprawling runway.
The co-ed collection featured airy shirt-dresses, fringe strung with tiny glass beads and several slinky floor-length dresses covered in rhinestones.
Kardashian mum Kris Jenner was front and centre, watching her daughter Kendall pass in a geometric-pattern swimsuit and shiny trench coat.
Bottega regular Hutton – who famously sported a red-leather Bottega purse when she starred alongside Richard Gere in “American Gigolo” – sat in the front row tapping her toe to rapper 50 Cent’s “In Da Club”.
“It’s all these easy pieces,” Bottega’s long-time creative chief Tomas Maier said. “Even the long dresses are like T-shirts.”
The women’s silhouettes were clean and utilitarian, but there was tonnes of embellishment – with tiny round mirrors, exotic skins like anaconda and metal eyelets of varying sizes.
Designs for the blokes were sporty but sharp, including dapper tapered trousers and pointy shoes. Materials like antique satin, suede and cotton pique ruled the day.
DOLCE & GABBANA
It was all crowns and queens on Sunday as Dolce and Gabbana unveiled a collection that paid joyous homage to women.
The Sicilian duo went wild with dresses, jacket and legging combinations as well as tops emblazoned with a Queen of Hearts playing-card motif.
It was typically playful Dolce and Gabbana that also included glittering gold crowns on many of the models, but some of whom were also swinging fancy bags with produce poking out of them.
One silky pyjama-like pairing of a loose top and trousers was printed with fluffy baby chicks and halved oranges.
There were striking three-piece suits in solid colours and slim stripes that had shiny fabric, wide lapels and roomy trousers that didn't quite make it to the ankle.