Ingredient marketing is a buzz phrase at the moment. Milano Unica fashion fabric collections in Moda In and Idea Biella areas for Autumn/Winter 2016/17 revolved around wool. Merino wool has already seen a strong following in the past seasons and continues to lead the fashion mood in all its various guises. The vogue for warm, cosy and comforting casual fabrics is as important as demand for fine lightweight worsteds for suitings collections.
Buoyed up by Milan Wool Week, The Campaign for Wool, which took place the same week, Milano Unica’s On Stage event involved a spectacular show staged with The Woolmark Company in the Via Montenapoleone, which was made into a gigantic catwalk. It demonstrated dramatically the work of selected international young designers on the unusual runway, all of them working with wool fabrics of various types.
Milano Unica’s design focus turned around ways to produce maximum comfort combined with an elegant modernity and high standards of performance; the sort of versatility demonstrated in The Wool Lab’s predictions for the season. Trends among the high-end exhibitors included brushed yarns, raised surface fabrics and the exploitation of three dimensional effects whether by texture or by twists and fancy weave effects, including both natural and man-made fibres seen at influential names like Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana, Angelico and Vitale Barberis Canonico. Micro designs such as small birdseyes and miniature versions of checks and classic decoration were often overlaid with windowpane or smaller checks in similar dark shades (Successori Reda), or in brighter colours, especially the new red, yet interpreted in remarkably different ways by individual collections.
Grey, black and white, the natural tones for flannel, jacquard jacketings and winter blazers were obvious choices as designers played about with the hues and gradations in natural colours of wool fleece and other animal fibres, sometimes blending them to make unusual effects such as Fox Flannels, Marling and Evans. Unlined woollen or worsted jackets for winter mean that layers of knitwear can be worn underneath or coats on top, so fabrics of very different weights were offered routinely, many with techno qualities of stretch, washability or weather proofing inherent in wool fabrics.
Rich colour and pattern was achieved by the invention of sophisticated layers and texture that were built up through various yarns and fibres in weave and stitch structures. They are much more colourful and patterned for the new season and have more in common with on-trend womenswear fabrics, many of which could be seen in the Moda In section. It marks the acceptance of bold design effects by a younger male consumer tempted by the much-heralded new dandyism.
Stripes, geometrics and both regular and uneven elements, such as the inclusion of random long-haired fibres, included patterns or points of colour which could only be seen close up. Shadowy printing gave a Renaissance effect to some menswear fabrics. Bouclés and micro bouclettes, brushed finishes and twisted yarns gave texture and interest, often in the red and deep blue spectrums, including further decoration with embroidery or printing for a richly ornamented look.
Blends of wool with smaller amounts of other fibres such as mohair, silk and alpaca showed the importance of top quality ingredients, selected and put together for specific effects: longer hairs, different coloured fibres or variations in weight and thickness. This individuality was a hallmark of the collections for the new season as exuberant originality marked out one collection from another.