Tuesday, 3 March 2009
Join us as we do another of our quick-ish fashion week summaries. If you've been religiously following the new collections on Style.com you might want to skip over this, but, if not, we think it's a good way to get an overall feel and appreciation for what designers have in store for next winter, without getting into too much detail yet, since this winter hasn't even finished yet and we should be thinking more about spring/summer 09.
It's always hard to tell what Miuccia's thinking is behind her notoriously cryptic collections, but one thing's for sure and that is that wherever Miuccia goes, we follow. That's not to say women will be wearing thigh-high fishermen's boots done in supple leather or fur dresses this winter, but Prada's influence on contemporary fashion is undeniable large. As ever, she set her own direction, this time eschewing the 80s trend that has gripped many catwalks so far, in favour of a more austere 40s vibe (which could well be read as a reaction to the recession, but Miuccia's thinking is never that simple - the fact that half the models had their skin coloured a ghostly white was evidence of something more going on).
Also, as is customary with Prada, the collection (with its decidedly odd elements) seems strange at first glance, almost ridiculous, but as usual by the time it reaches the shops (and some of the runway styling has been stripped away) there will be no shortage of people clamouring for it. It's also likely that by then even more people, if not wearing it outright, will be taking away elements from the collection (not necessarily deliberately, given the drip-down effect to more affordable brands): the neutral browns and blacks, punctuated by a muted red; the deep v necklines; the use of velvet, wool, leather and other heavy materials; the return towards more structured tailoring with nipped-in waists, specifically without the 80s broad-shouldered silhouette..
2) Jil Sander
Although it wasn't as exciting as his beautiful SS09 collection, which started the fringing trend, FW09 was another good season for Raf Simons, who seems to go from strength to strength at Jil Sander. Each season he manages to stay true to the brand's core of minimalist work clothes, while at the same time keeping it fresh by adding his own design touches. Admittedly Jil Sander is not the easiest of looks to wear, and lacking in conventional glamour and femininity it won't appeal to all women, but on the right person (creative, intelligent, in control) it really works. There was a poignancy to the show because Jil Sander's new owners have recently announced the closure of the brand's specialist workshops in Germany, which is why Simons brought out the head of the atelier, Christel Von Kiedrowski, with him when he took his bow.
There was something about the florals, the patterns, the greens and browns, that rather reminded us of Prada SS08, and none the worse for it: the collection showed plenty of its own creativity and, even if at times there was perhaps a little too much going on, it should provide some very wearable pieces, which are fun, pretty, creative, and even a little more glamorous than we normally see from Marni.
4) Dolce & Gabbana
Nobody really expected Dolce & Gabbana to tone it down for these tough times and go austere and (thankfully) they didn't: their collection was utterly resplendent in its customary glitz and glamour, if not even more so than usual. There were lashings of fur, there was gold, shine, shocking pink, silky finishes, shoulders were wider than ever.. everything about this collection screamed glamour, in-your-face luxury, money. And yet somehow it didn't feel vulgar or inappropriate: perhaps it was the Marilyn Monroe print dresses that showed the designers weren't taking everything too seriously, or maybe it was just the sheer drama of it all, the fact that this is what we expect from Dolce & Gabbana. We really enjoyed this collection, not in the same way that we appreciate Raf Simons' understated tailoring or Nicholas Ghesquière's cool futurism, but more because it was such a rich visual assault, so gloriously excessive... the perfect bit of escapism for these straitened times.
And anyone who thought Dolce Domenico and Stefano Gabbana might have toned down their second line would also have been mistaken. Taking inspiration from La Scala, Milan's famous opera house, the design duo showed another wonderfully opulent collection with jewels, velvet, chiffon, rich brocade.. geared towards a younger audience with the higher hemlines, some lower cut tops, and (crystal studded) jeans. There were a few brocade 'lamp shade' dresses that looked a bit too like, well, home furnishings, but overall it was a sound collection. Although we're enjoying this 'screw the recession' attitude at the moment (somehow it makes this look more appealing than before, when it wasn't rebelling against anything but fitted in perfectly with the economic boom), it will remain to be seen for how many more seasons it can continue, especially if things get even worse out there.
6) Burberry Prorsum
In a collection that could hardly have been in greater contrast to two Dolce & Gabbana ones, Christopher Bailey was inspired by the Bloomsbury Set (a group of early 20th Century British intellectuals, that included Virginia Woolf), which translated into a sort of unpolished 'literary chic'. Although the collection was oddly occasionally punctuated by incongruous, sleek, black fur coats (perhaps to appeal to customers in emerging markets, who like their luxury unsubtle), we couldn't help but feel that customers might be rather short in supply in both new and established markets for a number of the looks (those long, heavy wool skirts..), which the models get away with, but which are liable to end up looking more frumpy and less literary chic on 'real' people. Still, perhaps it matters little since the biggest money spinners for Burberry are undoubtedly their accessories and Burberry London fusion line, and it was interesting to see something generally so austere on a Milan runway.
The name of the game at Fendi was a very subtle luxury. Sticking true to the house's heritage as a furrier, Lagerfeld and Venturini included enough pelts to keep fur fans happy (and to enrage the anti-fur movement), but there were other interesting details too, like the subtly frayed mohair and the treated cashmere. As at Prada, colours were neutral, tending towards blacks and browns, with the occasional burst of red. We liked the softness of the collection, but feel we've seen more exciting Fendi collections before.
The Dsquared boys sent their models down the runway clutching Starbucks coffee and Blackberries (not of the edible variety), which we thought was a very amusing take on the ubiquitous paparazzi shots of young Hollywood starlets clutching the same accessories (which, along with the equally ubiquitous bottle of water, have in a sense become 'must have' accessories in their own right). The clothes were a typically confusing mixture of trashy and classy (or, at least, less trashy), again symbolic of celebrities today. We're no closer to understanding the Dsquared aesthetic, but it was a very fun collection.
This collection represents a further step in Donatella's recent re-working of Versace, sticking to the brand's core glamour and sex appeal, but doing so in a more classy way. The consequence of this is that it still feels rather as if she is drawing Versace back, rather than pushing fresh ideas out, but in a way it doesn't matter as she's still pleasing her original fans with shimmering dresses, and probably drawing in new fans too with the more restrained edge. And that's not to say Versace's scared of innovation: witness the revival of the cheaper diffusion line, Versus, with its debut accessories collection designed by none other than Christopher Kane.
10) Alberta Ferretti
Style.com/Vogue didn't mince their words about the lack of cohesion in this collection "It's increasingly difficult, and ultimately pointless, to try to parse an Alberta Ferretti runway show as if it were a "collection," and to an extent we agree, but ultimately Ferretti continues to make pretty and wearable (save a few dodgy metallic moments), if not very boundary-pushing, clothes, that please her customers.
Frida Giannini has a formula (sleek, sexy, quite tailored, slightly rock chick) which she sticks to fairly closely each season (to the dismay of some critics, who'd prefer to see something less predictable and more original from such a big name brand), but it seems to work, and although we appreciate the lack of new ideas, within the circumstances we rather like it. Following the incredible SS09 gravity-defying platforms, Giannini again didn't disappoint in the shoe department, coming up trumps with well-proportioned black skyscraper heels.
As has become customary with Moschino, fun ideas and quirky twists were backed up by a traditional elegance in the tailoring, which almost has a hint of Valentino to it. Moschino may not be a red-hot brand at the moment, but it seems to be a successful formula, that we like.
13) Gianfranco Ferré
The Gianfranco Ferré show was overshadowed by the news that the house's owners had just gone into receivership, which is a pity because new designers Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi (who had previously only done one collection for the label) showed a strong collection that remained true to the brand's roots, but provided some (much needed) updating and edge. Particularly notable was the structured and elegant evening wear towards the end of the show.
The dramatic runway styling at Missoni saw layer upon layer of knitwear piled on top of each other (creating a sort of hobo aesthetic, through the eyes of the less charitable), which lent the collection a very warm, cocooning feel ( perhaps just the thing for these tough times?) Missoni has been criticised in the past for not innovating enough, but this season Angela Missoni struck the perfect balance between maintaining the house's heritage in knitwear, and adding a greater edginess. Truth be told, the Missoni we like best are the bright, unforgiving zig-zags (these days used pretty much exclusively for the home collections), but we still enjoyed this collection.
15) Roberto Cavalli
Setting aside the furore surrounding Roberto Cavalli and the owners of the Just Cavalli license, who have just gone into adminstration, prompting questions about the secondary line's future (and a war of words between Cavalli and the company), and focusing on the show itself, it becomes clear that Roberto Cavalli has been following a slightly different tack recently: nowhere to be seen was the animal print, unsubtly sex appeal, and in-your-face glamour of the Cavalli of a few years ago. Instead they were replaced by a tougher look, which still felt very Cavalli, and very Milan, but in a more subtle way.
Jump to Style.com to see the full collections, and other Milan collections including Emilio Pucci, Etro, Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani, and Salvatore Ferragamo, then get ready to gear up for the Paris collections...