Milan Fashion Week is often treated as Paris’s life-of-the-party sister, London’s eccentric cousin, or New York’s fastidious and business savvy aunt. This season in particular seemed to offer all of the above.
As with previous seasons, the Fall/Winter 2015 collections in Milan opened with Gucci. This time, however, Alessandro Michele, the brand’s former accessories designer-turned-newly appointed creative director, was at the helm. Gone were Frida Giannini’s jet set bohemians in hyper-coordinated head-to-toe looks; absent were the high-gloss Tom Ford-era bronzed bodies, blowouts, and bamboo-adorned Bond Girls circa Diamonds Are Forever. The devil-may-care glamour that once defined the Italian design house’s prêt-a-porter collections was suddenly awash in a hodgepodge of Grey Gardens separates. A Little Edie-esque fur coat took shape in pink and red chevron intarsia, while wilting floral-printed blouses and dresses remained sheer in either lace or silk chiffon, some with a pussycat bows at the neck, others finished with a curtain of pleated ruffles.
All the layered looks—and there were many—were worn with flats. Traditional Gucci loafers were remixed with a tuft of fur at the heel, or, best of all, taken to epic proportions with the house’s signature horse bit nestled behind the only Gucci blowout in sight: a mass of Chewbacca locks at the foot.
While on the topic of fur, Fendi, a house best known for its lush pelts, took a decidedly quieter approach, and offered buttery leather, shearling, and down quilting as this season’s must-have alternatives. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of shaggy cuffs and collars. There were, but the focus was primarily on expertly cut butcher’s aprons-turned-overalls and mini and maxi skirts in smooth layers of black and terracotta colored leather worn with simple white blouses buttoned to the neck. Rounding out the collection were more than a few cozy looking, comforter-chic looks for those days when one simply refuses to get out of bed.
Which brings us to matters of sleep…or a lack thereof. Both Fausto Puglisi and Versace offered unapologetic, revved-up, come-hither looks reminiscent of Julia Roberts in opening scenes of Pretty Woman or Sophia Loren in Arabesque. For his part, Puglisi paired thigh-skimming boots with concert-ready dresses in gown and mini lengths, some with cutouts at the abdomen (another nod to Roberts).
In signature (or is that singular?) Donatella fashion, the stalwart designer showcased a throwback of Versace hits: spangled micro-mini dresses and skirts emblazoned with house logos. The variations on insignia included a refrigerator’s worth of colorful alphabet letters, Greek key symbols and Medusa heads. Karlie Kloss smoldered in dyed-to-match fire engine red patent leather thigh-high boots and a crepe mini-dress with an asymmetric hem. There were also cutaway coats in black with a slash of primary color to showcase those boots. Lastly, the all-star finale featured one glamazon after another in glitzy minis and a few furs reminiscent of Monsieu Saint Laurent’s racy ’40s collection. They all accessorized with chain-linked chokers and earrings that spelled, you guessed it, Versace. Gianni would be proud.
On a lighter note, Miuccia Prada, ever the pendulum-swinging iconoclast, showed some of the sweetest looks of the week. Her cropped “pantsuits” in citrine and turquoise were a throwback to an earlier Prada collection circa 1996 (fashion obsessives might recall that season’s campaign starring Carolyn Murphy with a closely shorn pixie cut), but updated for a new generation of style savvy starlets. In true Prada form, the house shifted the eye once again, uncompromising in its juxtaposition of seasons. Where Prada Spring 2015 offered raw-edged patchwork housecoats worn with knee socks, Fall 2015 was optimistic and light, saccharine sweet in its candy-colored palette and truncated and flared proportions.
There was a strong tech element on display as well. The collection could have easily been titled “Kubrick goes to Candyland.” Leather jackets and skirts were cut loose and boxy, and fashioned in ostritch skin or matte patent leather, some covered with a computer age node design that was at once mid-century mod and futuristic.
The slim pants and tulip shaped tunics, meanwhile, were cut in what appeared to be neoprene (this time with pinked, zigzag edges), and the shoes were covered pastel bright rubber roles. The classicism of the new Mary Jane was restrained to their satin uppers, metallic straps, and pointy silhouette. Tradition-turned-on-its-head also manifested in the chicer-than-thou strips of mink placed along darts or tied into bows at the shoulder of a petit bombé top in neon herringbone tweed.
On the other end of the sublimely chic spectrum, Salvatore Ferragamo showed an array of everything the urban sophisticate wants to (or should want to) wear right now. Effortless suits and sexy dresses with a hint of intellectualism would transition easily from the boardroom to any hip banquet. Many of the form-flattering frocks were pieced together with swatches of subtly luxurious textiles in contrasting colors to form mid-century geometric abstraction evocative of a Frank Stella painting.
At Marni, Consuelo Castiglioni offered a streamlined take on the urban warrior princess, all corset belts and matching cross-body bags, distorted floral prints in earth and tertiary tones, and covetable wide-ankle booties in python.
Marni’s chic was in stark contrast to Jeremy Scott’s Moschino who followed up his Barbie-themed Spring collection with an ’80s era B-Boy-meets-The Babysitters Club camp fest. Almost all the looks were accessorized with Flavor-Flav-esque necklaces, graffiti everything, Looney Tunes characters embroidered onto baseball regalia, and jumpers worn as dresses. For all of its flaws, one of the highlights of this runway party was a show-stopping fishtail gown with all-over graffiti worn by Gigi Hadid.
One show that managed to balance camp and reality was Dolce & Gabbana with an ode to women—mothers in particular. “Mamma” and “Amore” were scrolled across embroidered tunic dresses, or printed onto full skirts in silk paired with the Italian duo’s take on Dior’s iconic Bar jacket. Perhaps taking a page from the ultimate “Mamma” Angelina Jolie’s playbook, childlike drawings, some from the designers’ youth, were also a prominent motif used throughout the sexy, multi-generational collection.
Finally, Giorgio Armani offered a dynamic collection that was undeniably Armani. Timeless, effortless, and retail-friendly.