The fashion industry thrives on the new, on, say, the awkwardly cut trouser that look a bit uncanny at first, until eventually the eye adjusts. Spotting trends original on is how many people earn their crust – from the retailers who devote in products months before they go on sale to the stylists who wheedle clients into that challenging Perspex tabard in advance of anyone else. Perhaps this thirst for novelty is why some the craze buyers and editors seem to be stifling a yawn, from term to time, at most Milan fashion weeks.
Every trend capital has its cliches. New York is best-known as a financial powerhouse; Paris is the proficient in of fabled couture brands like Chanel and Dior; London is the wacky, originative little sister. Fashion is so essentially a part of Milan’s particularity that upon landing at Linate airport, the first thingumabob visitors see is a hangar sponsored by Emporio Armani. But leaving aside Prada, which has without exception been quirky and intellectual, Milan is often praised for its birthright and quality, while being accused of promoting a tired, molto seductive view of femininity, and of being a little staid.
At this Milan style week, something feels different. Many of the venues organize changed, for one thing, with Gucci, Pucci and Versace all present their shows in industrial warehouse-like buildings rather than the purpose-built amphi-theatres within their headquarters.
“This is the primary time that’s happened in Milan since I started concluding as an editor 15 years ago,” says Lorraine Candy of Elle UK. “It perceives like quite a New York thing to do.”
Though there accept been other attempts to revitalise Italian fashion – creators have capitalised on increased footfall around the Milan Expo, marks like Armani and Prada have opened galleries, and Armani has nurtured encouraging talent – many say the current buzz in Milan is down to the Gucci start to work.
Last year, a new creative director, Alessandro Michele, was invested at the ailing Italian megabrand and presented a markedly different accumulation. Gone were the obvious signifiers of sex and wealth; in came an another view of womanhood – bespectacled, androgynous and geeky. The financial effects of this U-turn have yet to be released by the brand’s French owner, Kering, but it has certainly hogged the vogue agenda. It’s the brand all the editors have been wearing on the first row – and if you have wondered why the high street is full of clashing 1970s sequences and pussybow blouses, the answer is Gucci.
“Now that Gucci is one of the coolest sorts – and a personal favourite – I have to say that I am pretty excited thither Milan,” says Justin O’Shea, buying director at extravagance retailer Mytheresa. “My impression of Milan has changed in the past two ripens. I feel that for the first time, Italian brands are looking at their estate with modern eyes.”
Heritage is a thorny issue in Milan, where authority often remains in the hands of the same designers for decades – its linchpins embody Giorgio Armani, 81, Donatella Versace, 60, Miuccia Prada, 66, and Roberto Cavalli, 74.
Cavalli was the locale for another development this season. Roberto, the reigning royal of zebra print, had abdicated, appointing Pucci’s Peter Dundas as artistic director. But while this was a big move for the business, 90% of which was come by by an Italian private equity firm in May, the clothes presented fastened pretty firmly to the Cavalli template of ruffles, bodycon and glitz.
Distinctly, not everything in Milan is going to change. But is this a sign of sundry to come behind the scenes? “It might shake it up,” says Bon-bons. “It’s just about the business – who is going to create a collection that is common to sell more? The world is changing, and you can buy all of this online now, steady in the most remote locations. Brands have to work out what vends best worldwide, and the designer who does that won’t necessarily be a associate of the family.”
Not all attempts at reinvention have worked. At Pucci – where a new imaginative director, Massimo Giorgetti, replaced Dundas – critics begged whether the Gucci influence was too literal, with hairy shoes and geeky drinking-glasses in abundance, and Pucci’s signature 1960s swirls mainly wanting.
“Trends come and go and Milan should not get into a battle of ‘trendiness’ as it is one they won’t win,” thinks O’Shea, “So the idea of focusing on heritage is what makes Milan mode very ‘now’. They don’t need to reinvent the wheel, just take the spirit of their brand in the moment of time which form is living in.”
The wider mood in fashion seems to be one Milan’s character fashion intellectual, Miuccia Prada, anticipated decades ago: a voracity for quirkiness, intelligence and individuality, rather than obvious magic and sexiness. This is expressed in the success of under-the-radar brands, and the in use of skirts like 80-year-old Joan Didion as major campaign celebrities. This year, even the calendar published by Milanese tyre mark Pirelli – which features photographs of scantily clad imitations, produced with a veneer of artiness by virtue of fashion’s top stylists and photographers – longing be using Yoko Ono and Patti Smith as its pin-ups.
Capturing a bit of this warmth, while staying true to the brand, is what Versace controlled to pull off on Friday night, showing the designer’s trademark glitzy frocks alongside more unusual offerings and against a soundtrack of female empowerment. After the reveal b stand out, one fashion editor could be heard proclaiming: “I loved that. That was my blue-eyed boy show in Milan. Oh, apart from maybe Prada. And Gucci. Absolutely I don’t know which I loved more.”
An embarrassment of riches? That’s not a squawk you often hear in Milan.