Milan Fashion week: the bold & the beautiful

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The Italian houses looked past political uncertainty to show collections that, though they may have been austere in design, were lavish in production

While London's designers may be known for their rebellious nature, at Milan Fashion Week the Italians proved that they are able to make a statement with their collections, too. The bi-annual showcase in Italy's second city this season coincided with the country going to the polls to decide on a new leader, after a battle that had largely been fought over financial lines.

Well that was the plan, anyway. Although the inconclusive result implies that the political future of the country is uncertain, if the designers have their way a return to boom times is on the horizon.

This sense of optimism manifested itself on the catwalk primarily through the plentiful use of fur – Karl Lagerfeld led the charge for the use of the material, which remains controversial here but is far more commonplace in Italy, with his collection for Fendi where mink and fox skins were used not only on clothes but adorned bags, shoes and sunglasses, too.

By the close of the week of shows, the absence of skins became more notable than those collections in which they were used – whether pony skin, beaver, python or crocodile the wealth of such textures indicated that the Italian designers were rebelling about the austerity measures of former prime minister Mario Monti, and, as his political defeat indicates, this is a sentiment echoed by the population.

Indeed, fur was also a big part of the story at Marni – a brand which recently received an injection of cash thanks to Renzo Rosso, owner of the Diesel brand, buying a controlling stake in December last year. For a house whose signature is so intrinsically connected with prints, by showing only a few patterned pieces designer Consuelo Castiglioni seemed to be wiping the slate clean with a collection that was almost puritanical in its rigour. “Textures and fabrics as always are key,” said Castiglioni of this new direction, which also experimented with volume and proportion.

Although Dolce & Gabbana's collection did not use fur, this was by no means an exercise in austerity from the Sicilian designers. Instead they mined the riches of their Catholic heritage with Byzantine and Monreale gilded mosaics first printed and then embellished with sequins, beads and jewels. News of the Pope's surprise resignation may have broken just days before the show, but it is safe to say that this was a dedication to the artisanal and opulent foundations of worship rather than a meditation on the state of the religion at present.

At Bottega Veneta, Tomas Maier presented a noirish, ladylike collection. His use of three dimensional pleats and origami folding on shoulders created the sense of a womanly suit of armour, a motif particularly apparent throughout the collections as structured shoulders whether rounded and sculpted or pointed and pagoda-like.

“It is a challenge to look into a material that is not so appealing, and then make it into something that is quite appealing,” said Maier of his experimental use of wool, a fabric which he finished with raw edges. “We wanted to take the collection in a direction that was not as overtly feminine as last season. It is very precise, but with an edge and well suited to the confident and sophisticated Bottega Veneta woman.”

The balance between masculine and feminine teetered back and forth throughout the week. Miuccia Prada's vision of “raw elegance” was her way of going against the grain: “Generally, the feeling is it is old-fashioned to look romantic,” she said backstage of a collection that expertly counterbalanced hourglass silhouettes and feminine fabrics with more traditionally “nasty” Prada elements such as the awkward colours of tomato red and mustard yellow and chunky-soled shoes.

At Gucci meanwhile, creative director Frida Giannini's overtly sexy woman channelled Miss Whiplash with fetish aesthetics in a mission to “seduce with her dangerous femininity”. There was plenty of glossy black courtesy of patent leather, python and crocodile elements, but the rich colour palette of purple, moss green and orange helped to make those pieces sing.

Continuing a theme of the London collections was Versace's punk, or “Vunk” if you will,reimagined as if it emerged fully formed in the present day. This look was sexy, too, with shiny vinyl in red and yellow, studded and spiked leather, nails and razorblades strewn across a body-conscious silhouette. “It is sexy, strong, brave and full of energy,” said Donatella Versace. “It is the essence of Versace, heading straight into the future.”

Jil Sander was also pre-occupied with the future: bands of gold-leaf highlighted a precisely minimal collection of structured slate, black and oxblood pieces inspired by tales of people hoarding gold because they do not trust the future.

“We are optimists,” said Sander. “We believe in the future.”

 

Checks

Tartan at Moschino, Alberta Ferretti and Versace; gingham in powder pink and blue at Prada; window panes at Marni and Trussardi; houndstooth at Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci, graphic at Etro.

Skirt suits

Ladylike in menswear fabrics at Dolce & Gabbana; staggered hemlines and hourglass silhouettes at Prada; pastel shades and voluminous shapes at Emporio Armani; tux-inspired at DSquared2.

Gold

A minimal stripe at Jil Sander; the crowning glory at Dolce & Gabbana; gilded leather at Prada; embossed insignias and curlicues at Moschino; finely woven in shimmering coral knits at Missoni; filigree lace minidresses at Emilio Pucci.

Colour

Black, midnight and shades of grey were highlighted with bright and bold shades. Orange came courtesy of Gucci, Jil Sander and Missoni; yellow was seen at Versace, Prada and MaxMara; while red made a statement at Bottega Veneta, Moschino and Dolce & Gabbana.

Leather

Cut into biker shapes at Marni, Trussardi and Etro; dyed red at Prada and Just Cavalli; embossed at Roberto Cavalli, and SportMax; given a high shine finish at Versace, and Salvatore Ferragamo.

Embellishment

Jewel-encrusted, beaded and sequined mosaics at Dolce & Gabbana; glittering ruby slippers at Emporio Armani; black on black crystal embellishment at Prada.

Shoulders

Fierce, origami folds at Bottega Veneta; structured and rounded at Gucci, Trussardi and Jil Sander, cape-backed at Marni.

Punk

Nails, studs and razor blades at Versace; Fendi's women modelled fur mohawks; tartan and crosses at Moschino's rock'n'roll rebellion.

 

Away from the catwalks

The Brits showed the Italians how to party: Katie Grand celebrated her new collection for Hogan with mates Abbey Clancy, Giles Deacon and Lulu Kennedy; Georgia May Jagger hosted a party in boutique Excelsior for Hudson Jeans; and Rita Ora – in town to support BFF model Cara Delevingne – rocked out at the Hotel Principe.

The front row had a more international flavour: Salma Hayek was supporting the family business at PPR-owned Gucci; Janet Jackson was present and correct for Versace and Roberto Cavalli; Lana Del Rey was in jet black for Versace; and as the just-announced MaxMara Woman in Film, Hailee Steinfeld found herself front row for that show.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Sport
Van Gaal said that his challenge in taking over Bobby Robson's Barcelona team in 1993 has been easier than the task of resurrecting the current United side
footballA colourful discussion on tactics, the merits of the English footballer and rebuilding Manchester United
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Travel
The shipping news: a typical Snoozebox construction
travelSpending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Project Coordinator

    Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

    Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

    £350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

    Embedded Linux Engineer

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

    Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

    £50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

    Day In a Page

    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

    How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
    Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

    He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

    Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
    Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Pop-up hotels filling a niche

    Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
    Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

    Feather dust-up

    A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    Boris Johnson's war on diesel

    11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
    5 best waterproof cameras

    Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

    Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
    Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

    Louis van Gaal interview

    Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
    Will Gore: The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series

    Will Gore: Outside Edge

    The goodwill shown by fans towards Alastair Cook will evaporate rapidly if India win the series
    The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

    The air strikes were tragically real

    The children were playing in the street with toy guns
    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

    Britain as others see us

    Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
    How did our legends really begin?

    How did our legends really begin?

    Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
    Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Lambrusco is back on the menu

    Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz