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Milan Fashion Week – The best of Day 1

The Italian catwalks are never short of glitz and glamour, why use one sequin when a thousand is better? But even by his nation’s standards, Giorgio Armani pulled out all the stops yesterday.

It was as if the recession had never happened. Armani’s press release suggested this was a collection inspired by body art, “exuberant, head-turning [and] sumptuous”. His girls looked ready to party in their flirtatiously short dresses, gone were the designer’s signature long, elegant evening gowns, replaced with bum-skimming hot pink taffeta, one-shouldered puffballs or wraparound skirts that exposed sequin microshorts underneath. These were dresses to be partied in.

Everything was teamed with flat shoes, from gladiator sandals to patent ballerina pumps, giving the collection a youthful, more playful edge than perhaps it has had before. The collection, in a series of jewelled colours, featured two emerging trends; checks and crystals, showing that Mr Armani has lost none of his design edge following his recent illness and, in my opinion, it’s one of the brands best collections in years.

Over at Moschino Cheap & Chic, the audience were presented with humorous prints as always; Minnie Mouse polka dot, oversized monochrome flowers and – again – checks, making numerous appearances. Colours, shapes and styling had a retro feel – and pink, red, orange and monochrome babydoll dresses, jumpsuits and maxis were styled with flower-shaped sunglasses. Despite the tongue-in-cheek attitude of this collection, I do really like it and most of it I would wear myself…ok, maybe not the dress inspired by Bjork’s Oscar choice from 2001 (the dead swan for those who have forgotten).

Just Cavalli blasted Smells Like Teen Spirit out of the speakers as his artfully dishevelled models – smudged eyeliner and rock chick attitude – took to the runway. The first girl appeared in a long pink chiffon tiered dress that was falling off her to reveal sheer, deliberately ill fitting jersey underclothes. She had “I’ve just been touched by Cavalli” scrawled across her front and “heal the world, make it a Cavalli place” on her back. Cavalli’s known for his humour but the theme of the show combined with the implications of the slogan were pretty dark. Chiffon dresses of green and sunbleached pink-bleeding-into-black, swung airily around the girls over mis-matching T-shirts with rolled up sleeves or sequinned under layers for added grunge glamour.

Shredded denim and snakeskin jeans were teamed with pointed satin bras that came either under or over matching chiffon vests, while the free-for-all silhouette was drawn tightly in for bodycon mini dresses with studded seams. Later on, dresses of lace panels featured long fringing and hung open over sexy fitted underwear, as if the young ravers had come into money but couldn’t bring themselves to give up the grunge entirely – and for the morning after there were moth-eaten black knits over tight leather trousers.

D&G sexed up its collection with stonewashed denim and laser cut corsets, showcasing a rodeo girl procession of tiered denim dresses alongside distressed and destroyed playsuits, and enough chambray shirts to suggest a wardrobe essential come next February. The corsetry theme which underpinned the more subtle structures of next season was woven into laser cut dresses, with boning running along the sides and front adding shape and sexiness. Studded leather skirts, leather panels and cowboy boots brought home the country and western theme.

Milan Fashion Week – Prada moves from austerity to frivolity

Another week means another city; as the world’s glitterati and fashionista’s descend upon the glamour and hedonism of Milan. It’s a week that’s sure to be significantly different from the conservative – although rather well received – London Fashion Week.

One designer who’s already received critical appraisal is, one of my favourites, Muiccia Prada. Prada threw aside last season’s wholesome, 1940s wartime “make do and mend” girl and replaced her with a more frivolous attitude.

Gone are the boiled wool suits and leather waders, replaced by a light-hearted aesthetic of crystal chandelier dresses, tropical prints, bordelloesque perspex shoes and transparent bags.

The set design was that of shifting hotel corridors and seedy nightclub entrances with conspicuous red lights.

Speaking after her show last night, Miuccia Prada explained she was influenced by “the imagination of corridors. The corridors of hotels are mysterious, there is both high and low life.” She also cited the distraction of modern life as another inspiration, mixing the city and the beach in the collection.

Her designs featured matching jackets and shorts, stiff tops that resembled capes, embellished blouses and dresses made to look like chandeliers.

“The transparency was the idea of light and of this sexy woman walking the corridors,” she said.

Prada was not playing peekaboo only with the overtly sexy crystal dresses, there were glimpses of white cotton briefs and shirt-tails revealed under loose fitting running shorts.

“I have a passion for knickers,” she joked. She also worked with revealing sheer fabrics and cut-outs.

Other stand-out pieces from her collection included the unfinished narrow knee-length shorts that looked as though someone had just lopped them off with a pair of scissors.

Prada explained she had worked for months on the prints of beaches and palm trees in yellows and sages. It’s this mix of “contemporary reality” and nostalgia that Prada believes will make it sellable. And a hint of what’s to come? “Platforms are dead,” she said. “Well maybe until the next show.”