Milan has never had a reputation for promoting young talent or prognosticating nascent trends. Indeed, the city is not, nor has it been for some time, a hotbed of directional fashion. In the revolving door of designers du jour, many of Italy’s most storied houses (Armani, Prada and Missoni, among them) are still overseen by either their namesake designers or immediate family members. Arguably more so than New York, London or Paris, Milan thrives on tradition, each season guaranteeing a surfeit of impeccably tailored coats, suit jackets and trousers.
Though commercial viability often trumps innovation, the “Made in Italy” label ultimately remains a potent, tangible source of pride—and for good reason. To wit, Dolce & Gabbana staged their collection against a decidedly unflashy video backdrop, featuring the atelier at work tacking jackets, measuring hems and sketching. Had the duo not included the men and women fashioning the structured jackets and knit suits alongside them, the staging could have easily been dubbed self-serving. Instead, it was an elegant, quasi-elegiac ode that reportedly left more than a few jaded editors teary-eyed.
Whereas Dolce & Gabbana tempered its aggression with eroticism, coupling masculine tailoring with signature leopard and lace, Miuccia Prada forswore outright sexy in lieu of vaguely naughty. Using both runway and Victoria’s Secret models, the designer sent out a parade of bee-hived, Bardot-esque mannequins garbed in ruffle-bosom-ed A-line dresses. As is her want, Prada suggested something more thoughtful, or dangerous, just below the sweet, ’60s exterior.
Roberto Cavalli also hearkened back to another era—understandably so, given that this season marked the company’s 40th anniversary. Cavalli returned to his roots in rich hippie boho, showing muted versions of his animal prints on muslin, chiffon and crepe de chine. Frida Giannini’s collection for Gucci, meanwhile, conjured her predecessor Tom Ford in the form of slim-hipped, boot cut trousers and blouses unbuttoned-to-there. Paired with camel hair coats or fur and ostrich cropped jackets, the look suggested a decidedly Italian, super-polished luxe. Another go-to power-dresser, Giorgio Armani, featured standout jewel tones (an emerald velvet cape dress, bright red silk and satin pom-pom coats) along with black skirts, jackets and patent heels.
Set against an ancient wall-of-Rome backdrop, Fendi’s collection paired house staples like mink and sable with billowy blouses and mid-calf dirndl skirts. Taking his cues from an Edward Hopper exhibit, Karl Lagerfeld used a muted, earthy palette of purples, browns and mustards. Despite the prodigious use of fur, including one dress partially fashioned from thin strips of astrakhan, the collection was decidedly more restrained than those of seasons past. Like Fendi, Marni employed a voluminous silhouette, padding the hips of skirts and bermuda shorts with tops peplum-ed 3D-style.
Speaking of which, Donatella Versace copped to a little Avatar inspiration this season, using the color blue for both her stage as well as her high-slit, metallic-paneled dresses and body con minis. Conjuring both biker girls and jetsetters, the collection was often sexy, but didn’t break from the past enough to be considered novel or particularly noteworthy. Raf Simons’ collection for Jil Sander was also film-inspired, in his case by the seemingly disparate stylings of both Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and The September Issue. Fusing fitted shorts suits with Tartan and tweeds, the looks suggested a kind of streamlined power dressing for the woman battling bad guys in and out of the board room.
Missoni’s Africa-by-way-of-Scotland collection included rich, open weave ponchos, blanket coats and tent dresses, simultaneously conjuring the allure of the exotic and the comfort of the familiar. The tribal vibe extended beyond the clothing however, as designer Angela shared the spotlight with daughter Margherita. Having introduced her first accessories collection this season, the younger Missoni anchored her mother’s knits with metal bracelets and neck pieces. It worked beautifully, which proved that keeping it in the family still remains one of Milan’s greatest strengths.