No one does sexy like an Italian designer, and this weekend’s Milan Fashion Week shows proved to be as sultry as one would expect. Rather than relying on the tired T&A formula, brands experimented with more subtle ways of bringing the bedroom to the runway with tactile fabrics, suggestive cuts and a whole lot of thigh-high boots (hey, some things never change!).
Brands such as Bottega Veneta crafted an implicit blend of sex appeal. Designer Tomas Maier opened his show with a pure white wrap coat reminiscent of a dressing gown, then moved on to a slightly uneven t-shirt dress that looked like it was spontaneously cut from a silk sheet. He rounded out the intimate collection with seductively sheer panels on prim wool shifts, lingerie detailing on flesh-toned dresses and fabric so subtly textured one wouldn’t notice it unless they were hovering just inches away.
Aquilano E Rimondi and Salvatore Ferragamo also favored a more subtle brand of sexy. Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi carried on the sharp-shouldered theme they started at Gianfranco Ferré, presenting a futuristic femme fatale with slinky pencil skirts and cinched waists that were provocative in their severity and inherent power. Ferragamo’s Cristina Ortiz layered suggestive body stockings under curve-hugging strapless dresses and kimono-sleeved coats, and let them take center stage—sans bra—with long black skirts.
Other designers were more explicit with their sexual leanings. Blumarine’s flirtatious, pop art-inspired collection mixed head-to-toe leopard print with groin-grazing denim cutoffs, pailettes and fluorescent body-con silhouettes. In his first collection for Emilio Pucci, Peter Dundas replaced the flamboyant jellybean hues and screaming prints of predecessor Matthew Williamson with rock star staples such as leather pants, enveloping furs and tall suede boots. Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s collection had a similarly savage, yet polished feel, with knits resembling chain mail, feathered fringe lining hems and coon tails dangling from dainty clutches. His attempts at rawness were balanced out by more traditionally sexy pieces, such as a sheer lace dress as well as sparkly beading on tops and miniskirts.
Roberto Cavalli’s studded scarves, fur minis, corset-laced jeans and see-through evening dresses ran the risk of resembling a spoof on the Italian idea of sexy, but averted total tackiness by pairing them with loose-fitting coats and lush thigh-high boots. The Just Cavalli collection, on the other hand, drew more than a few comparisons to Balmain with its shredded jeans and bandleader jackets. Gucci was another disappointment, where even the final run of iridescent, wildly textured frocks couldn’t make up for the leggings and fluorescent polka-dot tunics that opened the show, all of which felt beyond dated.
And then there were Marni and Prada, whose women are sexy because they make absolutely no attempt to be so. Prada’s gloomily hued wool and leather coats were jolted to life with startling pops of red—a slip here, a clutch there. The week’s ubiquitous thigh-high boots were reinterpreted as hip waders worn with fur boyshorts and thick ribbed cardigans, while necklines plunged to the navel, adding a more overt dose of sexuality to the collection. Marni resurrected the fur mittens and sports detailing of collections past, but this lineup, rendered in an eruption of pulsating prints and touchable textures, was more form-fitting than usual.