Our Milan SS18 Fashion Week Highlights
Since Alessandro Michele took over Gucci two years ago he has transformed the Italian house into a nuanced vision of nerd glamour that’s coveted worldwide. For his spring/summer 2018 collection, Michele threw in his usual impressive, albeit at times confusing, medley of references. From a modern day Margot Tenenbaum wrapped in an ankle-length brown fur coat to exaggerated 1980s shoulder pads to sweaters emblazoned with bugs bunny or the playful phrase Never Marry a Mitford. It was a whirlwind of times past brought to the present.
But by his choice of set design alone, Michele made this clear: his vision for Gucci is about more than the clothes. The backdrop echoed a Roman colloquium, while Egyptian Gods and Greek statues were dotted around the dimly lit space that was filled with strobe lights once the show began. When asked, Michele told Vogue the collection was about “resist[ing] the illusion of something new at any cost”. Gucci, it seems, has become a way of being.
Resistance was the keyword for Prada’s spring/summer 2018 show. In a time when women’s rights feel threatened at every opportunity, it was clear that Miuccia Prada was sending a message. The walls of the show space were decorated with expressive comic strip cartoons of women (all made by women) that stared down at guests as militant models walked. There were over the knee socks, ripped trench coats, graphic jumpers with shirt collars poking out, studs and leather. Its mood was reminiscent of rebellious teenage girls in a 1970s rock-n-roll London. It seems Miuccia was aiming to remind women of the rebellious instinct to fight in the face of adversity.
Jil Sander’s refined minimalism was a welcome break from the explosion of pattern, texture, and array of messaging that Milan had to offer. It was husband and wife design team Luke and Lucie Meier’s first collection for the brand – Luke is formerly of Supreme and Lucie headed up the design studios at Dior under Raf Simmons – and together they breathed new life into its minimalist legacy. The clothes were gender fluid, sophisticated and rooted in expert tailoring. There were slouchy trousers worn with crisp white shirts, multi coloured knit jumpers, camel leather trousers and sheer billowing dresses with geometric patterns. We couldn’t think of a more fitting location for this show than inside Milan’s Zaha Hadid designed tower.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of Gianni Versace’s murder, and Donatella seized this collection as a moment to honour him. Models walked as a poignant monologue filled the room: “Imagine a world without his risk-taking, his innovative genius and above all his allegiance to women”. The collection was filled with early pieces from the Versace archives. There were head-to-toe sea shell print looks, 1980s blazers with exaggerated shoulder pads, door knocker earrings, patterned neck scarves, black leather trousers and cowboy hats. As the show finished a curtain dropped to reveal OG 1990s supermodels Naomi Campbell, Claudia Shiffer, Carla Bruni and Helena Christensen standing regally, while George Michael's “Freedom!” blurred over the top. It was a nostalgic celebration of Gianni’s vision of femininity and a timely reminder of his profound legacy.
Gabriele Colangelo presented a refined, smart collection full of wardrobe essentials. The Italian designer, famed for his minimalistic approach, was focused on giving the clothes having an “artsy” feel – fabrics were hand pleated and dyed using old Japanese techniques. The results were impressive. There were flowing belted skirts, chunky trench coats and delicately embellished flower shirts. The was filled with pale blues, yellow, white and khaki. But most of all, fine tailoring was triumphant.
The take away from the Bottega Veneta show was its excitable swarm of insta-girls. Kaia Gerber, Kendal Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Gigi and Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski all walked, with guests dutifully snapping away at them. Second came the clothes, and they were gorgeous. There were shimmering sequin dresses, 1970s style velvet zipped jumpsuits, belted bodysuits and silk neck scarves. The mood evoked hot climates and luxurious living.