The Wylde Edit: Milan Fashion Week AW 17
Words by Luke Singleton and Thea Lewis - Yates
The presentation and styling of the clothes in a Gucci show is consistently some of the best in the business. Alessandro Michele’s utopia, a dizzying crowd of characters, quite often feels aloof and more privileged than its fashion counterpart Marc Jacobs, who similarly references youthquake pop-culture, but from the underbelly up. What is refreshing about Michele’s hyper-visual world, however, is the platform it affords its causes, namely the representation of gender binarism, albeit from the protective confines of the luxury market. Following the first transgender model star on the cover of Vogue Paris, this is a pertinent talking point for the industry. The bonanza of 119 looks for AW17 diluted his philosophy somewhat, but is it even possible for a show to appeal to every individual?
Much felt familiar with florals for men and androgyny, in piles, for women. More interesting were kaleidoscopic prints and iridescent fabrics in collision with quilting and ornate embroidery, diffusing the avant-garde with a respect for heritage. Accessories showcased enormous market appeal and upped the ante for every look; they have always been Gucci’s steadfast marketing point. One-off pieces including an incredible floral embroidered leather mini skirt, and a pair of rubberized black leather cigarette pants, zipped and cropped at the ankle, shone out within a whirlwind of baroque and seventies surrealism. And just when you think you’ve seen it all before - a jaw-dropping aquamarine sequinned silk cape with the beguiling hypnotism of pop-art fantasy, a couture creation which rose above fashion level and felt incongruous with contemporary expressionism.
An astonishing return to form for Miuccia Prada, where an evoked sense of pensiveness pulsed through her show in what was a wistful dissection of contemporary sensuality. A retrospective set, complete with 70’s soft furnishings, complimented clothes of dark chocolate, burnt orange, golden brown, olive and teal. Heavy fabrics reiterated the colour palette, favourites being felt wool, leather, fur and snakeskin. Corduroy was here, in slouchy, elongated silhouettes, as was crochet; both have been seen elsewhere in the collections, although the industry often looks to Miuccia for her authoritative viewpoint. Hats and trousers, again another trend, were of disproportionate lengths, either floor draping or gallantly turned up, rife with youthful insouciance. The main focus was on the 'woman’s story'. Marabou feathers flashed out at hems, technicolour fur swept cyclopean collars and modest cardigans ripped open to reveal underwear. Prince of Wales checks managed to remain elegant when teamed with leather tassels and fur trim, revealing the surrealism of the everyday. The atypical layering of shapes and fabrics looked a little clunky at times- some of these clothes won’t look good on everybody, but the multi-diverse message was registered. The final series of coats were the exception - their all-inclusive beauty offered a winsome reprieve to the autonomy of autumn.
Golden age Hollywood reigned supreme at Tomas Maier’s Bottega Veneta, where a focus on gilded era ravishment befell a contemplative exposition of modern day glamour. Informed from a lavish 40’s silhouette, figure-hugging sculptural dresses, and pegged pants and jodhpurs of democratic proportions, redirected classic shapes. Sleeves were cut narrow and shoulders pouffed, accentuated by an occasional soft furnishing of fur, with waists sitting high and often belted, galvanized by a die-hard feminine attitude. A compilation of skirt suits followed a similar cue, with boxy safari jackets embodying quintessential 40’s sang-froid, sensualised by virtue of form-fitting skirts slit right up to thigh level. A tan leather story here with embroidered flower appliqué, exemplified this distinction with confidence. Brazen sunset colours of crimson, marigold and marmalade infused Maier’s reflective show with the rose-tinted ardor of a saccharine Hollywood dream. The finale: a burnished gold gown, shimmering like molten lava, which had wondrous movement and was deserving of a parade - or a red carpet.
For Restless Sleepers
Francesca Ruffini is one of fashion's rare silent types. In a world of tireless, tiresome narcissism, where self-obsessed monologues trump thoughtful conversation, she is a breathe of fresh air. Hell, the woman is so modest, charming and well brought up, she won’t even refer to herself as a designer. How many thousands of people do we wish would take a leaf from her book? No doubt that ‘book’ is hand-bound, rare and as precious as her beautiful AW17 collection. Ruffini’s signature evening wear - louche, pyjama-inspired ensembles, has attracted a cult following, and it’s no surprise. In a sea of froufrou evening dresses, her darkly seductive pieces separate the women from the girls. Deep hues of emerald, ruby and sapphire denote an idiosyncratic confidence when worn head-to-toe, while elongated opera coats and capes in rich velvets, silks and brocades add drama, rather than theatrics. And therein lies Ruffini’s genius; taking historially inspired, decadent elements yet forging them into a thoroughly modern and effortless collection.
Alessandro Dell’Acqua found inspiration in Italian screen siren Anna Magnani this season: in particular her time spent in Florida in 1955, shooting the film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s The Rose Tattoo. Cue a considered, modern, and throughly successful mish-mash of classic Italianate style with 1950’s Americana. Dell’Acqua is a master of integrating his sumptuous brand of femininity with slightly ‘off’, kitsch or unexpected elements to temper and subvert the sweetness, and his thematic choice for AW17 played to this strength. Preppy, densely knitted sweaters and crisp oxford shirts were given the Dolce Vita treatment when pared with herringbone tweed hot pants and crystal jewels. Boxy varsity jackets in tweed, silk baseball trims and a retro cherry print, gave swagger to Fellini-heroine swirling silk skirts. There’s a need for fashion that makes us dream, no more so than in these tempestuous times. Dell’Acqua’s narrative cleverly brings forth wearable, desirable pieces, within the context of glistening nostalgia. Motto bello, baby!