As the week draws to a close, all the highlights from this season’s shows
As hinted by the invitation – a mask of the head of Ancient Greek god Hemaphroditus, delivered in a museological crate – creative director Alessandro Michele made the idea of masquerade central to his latest collection for the house, with models appearing in a series of masks, from crystal-fringed to leather-spiked. “The mask, in fact, lets us show ourselves as we please and play our acting role as we think best,” the designer said. “It’s the possibility to choose how to exercise our freedom.” The collection itself was typically eclectic, encompassing at once the insurgent spirit of punk – via spiked dog collars, braces and berets – and whimsical ruff-necked blouses (for men, as well as women), rainbow-coloured faux-fur stoles and glittering pleated lamé.
Bottega Veneta’s Autumn/Winter 2019 collection marked the runway debut for recently installed creative director Daniel Lee, previously of Celine, where he worked alongside Phoebe Philo. Confounding expectations of an #oldcéline redux, though, the designer delivered a tough, urgent collection: leather was the central tenet, in black biker jackets and Motocross-style pants, worn with heavy-soled leather boots, or quilted skirts and jackets (the latter were supersized versions of the house’s famed woven intrecciato). Elsewhere, a play on corporate tailoring saw collars raised and shoulders sloped – almost as if the models were hunched over – while body-conscious knitwear, cinched at the waist, added a sensual edge. It was a bold collection which set the house on a new course: Lee’s Bottega is sure to be one to watch.
Giorgio Armani’s latest Emporio collection was entitled Freestyle – “opposites harmonise in unexpected and individual combinations,” the notes explained. It meant a comprehensive wardrobe for the season ahead, encompassing clothes for the day – swingy plaid mini-skirts, denim jackets, berets – the gym – EA-emblazoned scuba hoodies and sweatshirts – and the night. The latter was delivered with typical Armani flair, via a series of entirely red looks, from embellished party dresses to off-the-shoulder tailoring – complete with matchy-matchy accessories, from bags and boots to fun-fur stoles.
Francesco Risso’s esoteric collections are weighty with ideas – titled NEUROEROTIK, his latest was no exception, and set a darker course for the Italian house. Risso had been thinking about female desire: rational and irrational, bodily and intellectual, which meant a power play between fetishistic tropes – heavy leather trench coats and dresses in black and blood-red; chains looped around model’s waists and necks – and something altogether more sensual. Notably, a series of diaphanous silk column gowns, stitched with hundreds of engagement rings.
Donatella Versace has made a habit of reviving the supermodels who defined the reign of brother Gianni in the 1990s, and placing them among a new generation of young supers. Last season, Shalom Harlow, who went on to star in the house’s campaign (and opened this season), this time, Stephanie Seymour closed out proceedings in a glittering black gown. Donatella returned to the Versace tropes of the 1990s, too: the set was a giant safety-pin, in reference to Gianni’s most famous gown, and harnesses, baroque prints, acid-toned slip dresses and gold straps and hardware all recalled the designer at his peak. Plus, Donatella herself made an appearance on the runway: the Richard Avedon-shot ‘Blonde’ perfume campaign, starring the peroxide-haired designer, was printed onto a T-shirt.
Miuccia Prada titled her Autumn/Winter 2019 collection Anatomy of Romance, and set to re-explore the themes first propositioned in her menswear show this January: humanity, danger and chaos (the set itself, a vast room lined with rows of lightbulbs, had not changed). She turned once again to the horror and romance of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to do so – depictions of Frankenstein’s monster and his bride were emblazoned on the collection – combining satin flowers, lace, bows and ribbons (“simple, archaic gestures of love,” according to Miuccia) with tough, military-style garments, like field jackets, MA1 bombers and heavy rubber-soled boots. Tailoring, cinched at the waist, was similarly strict. Hair stylist Guido Palau turned to another horror heroine for inspiration – Wednesday Addams, whose pigtail plaits appeared throughout in peroxide blonde or signature black.
In 2001, Jeremy Scott – under his eponymous label – hosted a fashion version of TV game show The Price is Right as the backdrop for a collection entitled American Excess; last week in Milan (and close to two decades later) he hosted a re-run. This time, it was at Moschino, where he is creative director. “What could be more camp than a revival? Maybe only exercising in high-heels,” wrote Alexander Fury (he said the show demonstrated Scott at his very best). Among prizes of vacuum cleaners, a car and living room furniture, models – with hair teased sky high – pouted and blew kisses in a more-is-more collection that riffed on consumerism (several gowns were printed with the markings of dollar bills) in a tsunami of rhinestones, high-shine leather and sequins. The show closed, in Scott’s humorous style, with a model dressed – quite literally – as a 1980s TV dinner.
Days before Ferragamo’s Autumn/Winter 2019 show, designer Paul Andrew was promoted to creative director of the brand – a testament to his recent collections as women’s creative director, defined by a sultry and luxurious re-visitation of 1990s silhouettes. Andrew – who comes from a background in footwear – begins with the shoes and works upwards, and was inspired this time by a suede wedge from 1942 he found in the archive. That shoe – a colourful almagam of suede, lizard and snake – provided the patchwork motif that Andrew drew on throughout, epitomised by a series of looks that appeared as if stitched together from printed silk scarves. Leather, of course, was a highlight; sportswear-inspired anoraks and boiler suits came in impossibly luxurious shades of raspberry, purple and green.
There was something near-monastic to the opening handful of looks at Luke and Lucie Meier’s latest Jil Sander collection. A sleeveless wool coat, belted at the waist and worn atop a starched white shirt, had an austere simplicity, so too high-neck wool dresses, with silk trousers beneath. Mohair and chenile pullovers, obi-belted jackets and bustier dresses – in warm organic tones – provided a softer counterpoint. The husband-and-wife duo cited the clashing of masculine and feminine codes of dress as the impetus behind the collection, which further demonstrated their purity of vision at the brand.