The Standout Shows From Milan Fashion Week A/W21

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Marni Autumn/Winter 2021
Marni Autumn/Winter 2021Courtesy of Marni

From Prada’s distinctive “new energy” to Moschino’s irreverent tribute to Old Hollywood, Jack Moss rounds up the best new collections revealed as part of Milan Digital Fashion Week


“What’s building up is the desire for movement and action and new energy. The desire to release again,” said Raf Simons in the Q&A which followed his and Miuccia Prada’s latest outing as co-creative directors of the Italian brand. Colourful faux fur jackets and wraps lined with hundreds of sparkling paillettes, bold deco-print knitwear and the trio of sequinned jackets which provided the show’s finale, looked primed for an off-the-sofa future (accordingly, the runway footage was intercut with models dancing as if in a strobe-lit nightclub). Several pieces recurred from the men’s collection shown earlier this month – single-breasted corduroy jackets, all-in-one knits, tailoring rolled up at the sleeve – speaking of a greater synergy between the two sides of the brand since Simons’ arrival. “There was a sense of connecting men and women – the masculine in women and the feminine in men,” Simons explained.


Francesco Risso’s latest collection for Marni came with an accompanying letter from the designer. “[This] collection took shape as a romantic ode to dressmaking at its most tactile and intimate,” he wrote. “A love letter, actually: blatant, at times even proudly banal, so intense and overwhelming is our collective urge to feel, touch and feel some more.” This idea of “intense tactility” was at the heart of the collection – a riposte, Risso said, to the idea that garments must be simplified to be consumed through a computer – with ruffles the defining motif, used across languid gowns and skirts, or along the yoke of a shirt. Solarised prints, where garments were covered with flowers and left to fade in the sunshine, added to the collection’s intimate, homespun feel. Risso presented this season alongside a sweet accompanying film, showing models and friends cooking and eating in his Milanese apartment – “we decided to let the clothes talk intimately, domestically, during a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner among friends,” he said.


Kim Jones continued to refine his luxurious vision for Fendi with his first ready-to-wear outing, following a debut haute couture collection last month in Paris. Where that collection drew inspiration from the Bloomsbury Group and Charleston, their East Sussex retreat, this latest collection began deep in the house’s Roman archive, drawing inspiration from what Jones deemed Fendi’s “key codes” and the women who defined them, past and present. “The Fendi family are women of intellect who work hard – and that’s what I wanted to celebrate,” Jones said. The resulting collection was one of unrestrained Italian luxury, where a revitalised vision of the Roman wardrobe – double-faced cashmere and mink overcoats, scarf-like silk dresses, neat tailored shorts – was rendered in a rich, timeless palette of camel, brown and grey. “Fun isn’t always just about bright colours. It can be about really luxurious self indulgence, which pleases the person wearing it more than anyone else,” Jones said. “I’m taking the amazing, strong women who I both know and work with, and listening to their needs. There’s a usefulness to the collection, explored in a chic, timeless way.”


In his usual playful style, Jeremy Scott’s latest collection for Moschino was presented via a short film which paid ode to Hollywood’s Golden Era. The cast was suitably high-wattage – original supermodels Amber Valetta, Carolyn Murphy and Shalom Harlow all appeared, alongside Miranda Kerr, Karen Elson and Precious Lee – starring in a series of campy and surreal looks inspired by George Cukor’s 1939 movie The Women. There was Lee in a shimmering silver gown, worn with opera gloves so blown up in size they became a shawl; a potato sack was twisted into an elegant mini dress (look closer, and it is actually printed silk); nipped-waist 1940s-style outerwear was decorated with trippy smiley faces. Prints of cows and clouds recurred throughout – the latter a favourite of Franco Moschino himself, who founded the house in 1983. It felt fun and escapist, which was just what Scott intended, hoping to bring a feeling of “joy and levity,” with the short. “I think that that's the most important thing I can do in my work,” he said.


Streamed live from Milan’s famed Piccolo Teatro – albeit devoid of an audience – Pierpaolo Piccioli described his latest ready-to-wear collection as “sensual and romantic, nourished by memories but not nostalgic”. A move away from the broad strokes of colour for which he has become known, the palette was restrained in black and white, with the occasional subdued flash of gold. It was part of his attempt to “brutally shorten” this season’s offering, seeing hemlines abbreviated – mod-ish mini dresses, pleated skirts and shorts matched the length of the outerwear worn on top – and an act of physical cutting evident in the clothes design, with diamond-shape slashes a riff on the design of an Argyle jumper. Despite this, the collection struck a hopeful mood – as musician Cosima’s touching cover of Sinead O’Connor’s Nothing Compares 2 U built to its crescendo, the stage’s backdrop rose to bathe the theatre in bright white light, as if to symbolise the coming of a new day.