Catwalk drama at Milan Fashion WeekPrint
The keynote of Milan’s fashion week this season was drama – both on the catwalk, and off, with the abrupt departure of designer Raf Simons from the house of Jil Sander where, for seven years, he had been one of the most influential forces in the industry. His final show was a beautifully modulated presentation of pale-toned coats and dresses, which showed a man in full mastery of fabric, cut and silhouette. The audience cheered and wept in scenes that were unprecedented at a fashion show.
It was ironic that so much emotion could be engendered by so much serenity, especially when Milan’s other catwalks struck more obvious dramatic chords this season, primarily with an oversized military mood and an appetite for black that was so insatiable it bordered on the Gothic. The item that united those trends was the cape. It didn’t have to be black - Consuelo Castiglioni showed a spectacular crimson version for Marni – but its dominance means autumn/winter 2013 is a banner season for wool.
At Gucci, Frida Giannini invoked “dark glamour” as the reference point for a collection that borrowed equally from a Viennese riding academy and the romance of the 19th century Pre-Raphaelite movement in England.
Romance was Dolce&Gabbana’s cue too, but their inspiration was Baroque of Sicily, which has been the design duo’s main inspiration since they launched their business over 25 years ago. They encrusted clothes that were almost uniformly black with gold embroidery. Black as a canvas for embellishment was also a story at Emilio Pucci, where Peter Dundas lacerated double-faced wool dresses with slashes of chiffon.
The light-absorbing properties of black made it the perfect shade for the dense, contouring wools that Tomas Maier selected for his outstanding collection for Bottega Veneta. Maier’s fabric technology is innovative but subtle. Silvia Fendi also saluted the possibilities of wool mutated by technology by giving the fibre a fur-like feel. Angela Missoni did it with needlepunching, creating strange organic hybrids out of knits, lace and animal skins.
Missoni’s inspiration was the infinitely rich natural world. It was man-made military concerns that inspired Massimiliano Giornetti’s collection for Salvatore Ferragamo, which matched rigorous army tailoring to delicate chiffons, lace and lame. And Miuccia Prada, always a benchmark in Milan, brought the natural and the manmade together, in a collection which layered outerwear mutated from menswear over skirts and the cropped pants that are one of the season’s universal trends. Then she studded the lot with huge crystalline embroideries. The combination of strict proportion and elaborate decoration felt like a glimpse of fashion’s future.
“Wool is the greatest fabric for tailoring, which was an important part of the Fall/Winter collection. It can come in so many ways that it can find its place in all seasons, from tropical wool for extremely hot climates to heavy woolens for rough outdoor weather. In the new collection we focused on extreme density given by a compact and close weft construction. This also gives a very rounded surface and turns seams into a very fine line. Our second focus went to wool crepes, which can have the same density and opaque aspect but has a characteristic natural give. Used in closely tailored dresses, this material gives a sense of freedom to the woman without involving artificial fibers in the weave composition. The very fine quality of yarns obviously makes a difference in terms of price. Wool represents probably 35% of fabric used in this Fall collection but, as I said, is an important asset in every collection throughout the year.”
Creative Director, Bottega Veneta
“Wool has so much body it just feels more luxurious. We really appreciate wools, especially here, because they are so different. If you see something boring, you want it make it strange. It’s always a challenge to make it new each season. But Italians like to keep pushing the fibre forward, with treatments for instance. This season, we used a glass treatment. And we particularly like dry wools. We choose all the yarns, all the checks are made for us.”
Head of Womenswear, Marni
“Wool is necessary for humanity. And you need wool to create special effects. We always find lots of new fabrics in Biello, near Torino. Like the way we combined wool and chiffon together in this collection. You iron them together, the wool shrinks and the chiffon bubbles up through the wool like an astrakhan.”