Every fashion week has its own feel and personality. New York offers a cool vibe, while London usually goes crazy with eclecticism. Paris, without a doubt, is all about chic designs.
Then there is Milan. It has a penchant for loud and proud shows that adhere to the heritage of the fashion houses that showcase there. Yet, the recent one saw plenty of novelty.
Here’s a roundup of highlights from the Spring/Summer 2020 Milan Fashion Week runway.
Moving Into A Fresh Direction
All eyes were on the Fendi runway as it presented its first collection under a new creative director since the passing of Karl Lagerfeld. Silvia Venturini Fendi, the granddaughter of the founders, showcased her solo show.
While she has had a hand in the creation of Fendi womenswear for many years in the past, it was done under the purview of Lagerfeld. The late designer headed the fashion house for a good 54 years.
So what is Venturini Fendi doing now that she has full control of the reins? Push the designs into a more youthful direction, it seems. This is observed in her languid and relaxed collection, which was filled with cool separates.
The colour palette consisted of pastels and other earthy shades. Robe jackets, utility-style pants, sheer skirts and suede trench coats offered a mix of creatively beautiful pieces.
This is not Fendi’s first collection presented after Lagerfeld’s passing though. The Autumn/Winter 2019 runway (held days after his death in February this year) showed his final designs for the fashion house.
Speaking to Vogue at the Spring/Summer 2020 show last week, Venturini Fendi commented on the absence of Lagerfeld and how it affected her. But she said that she is putting her stamp of authority on things.
“He was the captain! So my life has changed in the way that now I decide. Before, there was a dialogue, a big dialogue. So today I feel the responsibility very much because the choices are mine – no compromise.”
Making A Statement
Political or social statements on the runway are nothing new, but they are usually made by the designers themselves. British fashion maven Vivienne Westwood for example, is famed for doing this.
Gucci’s show in Milan however, saw a model protesting instead. While on the runway, she showed off her palms with the words “mental health is not fashion” written on them.
This is in response to some of Gucci’s clothes that strangely resembled straight jackets. The all-white ensembles were worn by models who stood on a moving conveyor runway.
Ayesha Tan Jones, later posted an explanation on Instagram. She said that she has experienced her own struggles with mental health, and felt what Gucci did was “hurtful” and “insensitive”.
Tan Jones added: “It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of strait jackets and outfits alluding to mental patients, while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat.
“Presenting these struggles as props for selling clothes in today’s capitalist climate is vulgar, unimaginative and offensive to the millions of people around the world affected by these issues.”
Gucci defended its designs. A spokesperson was later quoted as saying that the uniforms and straitjackets “were a statement for the fashion show and will not be sold”.
That said, the rest of the fashion house’s designs on the runway comprised brightly-coloured dresses. They were paired with bold and oversized accessories for a beautiful effect.
Reliving A Fashion Moment
At the 2000 Grammy Awards, Jennifer Lopez made headlines by appearing in a plunging, barely-there Versace dress. The jungle-print design was so searched by countless people on the internet that it led to the creation of Google Images.
Lopez repeated her stunt, but this time on the runway. The singer and actress made an appearance at the close of the Versace show, strutting in a redesigned version of that iconic dress.
As the final model ended her walk, pictures of Lopez from the Grammy Awards red carpet flashed on the walls, followed by a voiceover by Donatella Versace, which stated, “Okay, Google, now show me the real jungle dress.”
The Spring/Summer 2020 collection itself drew from the same jungle print. The palm leaf motif was depicted on metal mesh, embellished with crystals or complemented with tie-dye.
Form-fitting silhouettes were paired with gold-tone hardware and delicate lace-up sandals embellished with leather leaf accents. Strong shoulders further characterised tailored blazers, coats and crystal-enriched shirts.
“We all follow technology; it’s at the centre of our lives today, but 20 years ago it wasn’t. I’m proud that we inspired Google Images,” Donatella herself pointed out, at a press conference before the runway show.
New Debuts At Milan Fashion Week
Amid the spotlight on Fendi, Versace and Gucci, there were other firsts on the runway. Two fashion labels made a move to Milan Fashion Week, underlining the idea that this was indeed a season of change.
Peter Pilotto took a dive into the Milan fashion scene with its very first runway show there. The British fashion house has always presented at London Fashion Week in the past.
“Being in Milan seemed like a natural step to take,” Pilotto was quoted as saying by Vogue. The man, one of two designers behind the label (the other being Christopher De Vos), is half-Italian.
“Recently we’ve come to Italy often working on leather goods, and fabrics have been made in Italy since the start of the label; we’re also producing part of the collection here.”
The current season’s showing included streamlined pieces of pretty little separates. They however, contrasted with the use of lurid and bold shades that shimmered on the runway.
Hugo Boss was another label that showed for the very first time at Milan Fashion Week. Its sleek collection was seen effectively cutting through the razzle and dazzle of Italian flamboyance.
With a heritage based on tailoring, it is no surprise that Hugo Boss presented suits for its womenswear collection. A change was however witnessed – the label went for head-to-toe tonal colours.
Outerwear was also a focus, with fluid coats offering a very New York vibe. Incidentally, New York Fashion Week was the long-time home for Hugo Boss before this.
“The pattern that runs through the collection was inspired by an early morning walk I took through Hudson Yards early in the summer,” stated chief brand officer Ingo Wilts, of how the collection still remained rooted in Manhattan.