[FASHION REVIEW] Milan Fashion Week SS17

text by Adam Lehrer

 

Since Alessandro Michele debuted at Gucci and drastically altered the landscape of the Milan’s fashion industry, my intros to Milan roundups harped upon the notion that Milan is shedding its traditionalist skin. But since I’m writing this during the middle of Paris Fashion Week, it feels quite evident that almost all of the fashion cities are still paling in comparison to the Paris schedule. But Milan is at its most exciting when its most important brands continue to re-invent the wheel: Gucci, Versace, Prada, Marni, Bottega Veneta. Milan lives and dies by those brands, and when those brands aren’t innovating then Milan is stagnating. Fortunately, the Milan schedule for the Spring-Summer 2017 collections saw those brands all either doing what they do best and/or progressing the brand further. While Michele at Gucci has so firmly established an aesthetic universe at Gucci that his collections will fascinate even if they don’t drastically change season to season, Donatella at Versace moved her brand into a new and fascinating direction after some relatively somnambulant seasons. Italian fashion is Italian fashion; they take it very seriously over there. There is also some exciting youth in Milan at the moment: Arthur Arbesser of Iceberg and his own label, Lucio Vanotti, and even off-schedule brands like Darkdron are all proving Milan can still be a fertile ground for radical fashion design.

 

Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2017

Everyone knows Tomas Maier is a good designer, but not often enough do we talk about how revolutionary his 15 year tenure at Bottega Veneta has been: turning athleisure into high fashion, popularizing the suede chelsea boot, and not to mention the countless fabric creations should solidify his status as one of fashion’s most enduring innovators. The Bottega Veneta Spring-Summer 2017 collection celebrated Maier’s 15th year at the house and the brand’s 50th anniversary and you bet your ass it reminded the fashion pack of Maier’s influence. Minimalism, that most over-used of aesthetic terms, applies to Maier’s work. His strength is making what he calls “nothing clothes” and making them special through his use of occasionally outrageous expensive materials: ostrich, crocodile, the finest cashmere the world has ever known, etc.. Despite Maier’s distaste for fashion marketing, the show featured one instagrammable moment when Lauren Hutton came down the runway with Gigi Hadid welding the same woven clutch bag she used in the 1980 film American Gigolo. That filmic moment has been noted as a milestone event for the house and they are recreating the bag for the anniversary.

 

Gucci Spring-Summer 2017

You could make cases for either Alessandro Michele and Demna Gvasalia being the most influential men in fashion. However different their styles may be, they do share similarities. They have both created aesthetic universes that are so rich that you don’t need to wear their clothes to buy into their looks. Perhaps that is the key to their success? When the majority of the fashion audience is mostly broke, it is exceedingly modern to present a way to dress and not simply products that must be bought into.

Not that Michele doesn’t have products, of course. His Spring-Summer 2017 collection saw his vintage leaning tastes take on Renaissance garb: lack patent 5-inch wedge and a black velvet upper embroidered with gold snake (worn by hookers in Venice, according to Michele), sparkled fairy dresses, purposefully aged dresses ruffled and exaggerated. It’s all just so much to look at. No designer on Earth presents a vision as stunning as Michele is right now. Not Rei. Not Demna. Not even Raf. Michele overwhelms you into submission.

 

Versace Spring-Summer 2017

Donatella diversified the Versace oeuvre by applying the magnetic and alluring appeal of Versace eveningwear to a host of streetwear-inspired athletic looks. A woman’s strength doesn’t solely lie in glamour, the SS ’17 Versace collection suggests. That strength can come from athleticism; a sense of ease with one’s self and one’s body. There were flowing nylon parkas, leggings paired with tight t-shirts, and platform Teva’s. Not that the evening wear wasn’t there. There were still beautiful tight dresses in black and others in blocks of primary colors. The diversity in garment was further reflected in the diversity of casting. Models of different body types, ages, and colors were all represented here. From super models of now (Gigi), yesteryear (Naomi), and relative unknowns, Donatella saw the power in all her women. We saw it too.

 

Jil Sander Spring-Summer 2017

After Raf left the label in 2012 and Ms. Sander herself returned for one solitary season, Fausto Puglisi was always going to have an uphill battle bringing the Jil Sander label back to relevance. While the brand remains largely irrelevant, Fausto has had a strong few collections with the label. The Spring-Summer 2017 collection felt very Jil Sander: minimal in color and pattern but abstract in shape. A lot of looks here felt perfect for the gallery girls that went crazy for the label back in the day: big black smocks, leather tunics, and sharp dresses. One must address the shoulder padding here, clearly ripped off from the mind of Demna Gvasalia. Appropriation isn’t welcome when it’s that obvious.

 

Marni Spring-Summer 2017

Vogue’s Sarah Mower cites Marni’s Consuelo Castiglioni as being behind only Rei Kawakubo and Miuccia Prada as fashion’s leader of abstract female fashion design. Certainly, all three women approach fashion as a form of individual expression and not merely as a means of attracting the opposite sex. But Castiglioni still stands in her own category. Prada designs with a kind of wild and unhinged glamour, and Kawakubo’s designs have grown so abstract and bizarre that they are approaching the realm of visual art (her various off-shoot CDG brands often feel like commercial supporters of her conceptual art practice). But Castiglioni’s abstraction is both more subtle than Prada’s and far more practical than Kawakubo’s. And for the Spring-Summer 2017 Milan collections, her Marni vision burner brighter than Prada’s.

Castiglioni uses asymmetry and architecture to transform the practical into the divine. All the dresses were beautifully abstracted welding sleeves and abstracted pleats. The use of pleats, which many critics have cited as an Issey Miyake rip-off used by much brands throughout this season, were used here as odd accessories to cover up one’s arm and shoulder. Loose-fitting tops came with gigantic cargo sleeves just in front of the wearer’s belly. Then there were the massive pocket-books fixed to models’ waists that didn’t look beautiful but certainly were eye-grabbing. Castiglioni has so well defined her customer basis that she can make these grand gestures feel seamless and well-placed. 

Milan Fashion Week SS 2017

Text by Adam Lehrer

It was hard to feel optimistic about Italian fashion after Milan Men’s Fashion Week SS 2017. That’s not to say that there weren’t some great collections, they just happened to come from the reliably interesting brands: Prada, Marni, and Alessandro Michele’s continued Gucci revolution among them. But there was a palatable lack of electricity coming from the Milan menswear shows. Maybe I’m alone in thinking this way, who knows? But Italian opulence just feels increasingly less relevant. I was in Milan last year, and people weren’t dressed up in Versace gold lapels (for some reason I thought some of the men there might be dressed up like The Sopranos’ Furio Giunta). Instead, I found the fashion and art crowds to be dressed similarly to those in New York, London, and Paris: disheveled jeans, cool sneakers, big trench coats or denim jackets. Antonioli, Milan’s arguable coolest high fashion boutique, does far better business with its stock of Vetements, Alyx Studio, Raf Simons, and Rick Owens than it does with local brands like the uninspired Marcelo Burlon or the sharp but off-schedule Milanese brand Julius. As the world grows more globalized, people are becoming at once more homogenized and individualistic in their senses of style. Italian tailoring, as a result, has grown out of favor with fashionistas, artists, and musicians. But these things come in waves of course, and there were just enough interesting shows to argue that “this city will rise again,”  to paraphrase Tilda Swinton in Only Lovers Left Alive.



Gucci SS 2017: Weird and Whimsical as a Collection, Desirable and Wearable as Products

Hedi Slimane was successful at Saint Laurent because he was able to create an aesthetic that was easily relatable and undeniably marketable while creating absurdly wearable products within each collection. Rappers, rockers, and actors all bought in and bought in hard, and Saint Laurent Paris was worn on everyone from Kanye and his shredded denim to Marilyn Manson and his leather blazers. Now admittedly, Alessandro Michele is a far more experimental designer than Hedi Slimane has been  of late(at least since his days as creative director of Dior Homme). But it’s starting to seem viable that Gucci under Michele could prove to be a financial success on par with Slimane’s Saint Laurent. The fey and whimsical aesthetic might seem jarring to most men, but it reels you in with a barrage of beautiful imagery. Everything from ad campaigns to the Gucci stores have become undeniably vibrant with Michele at the helm. Now that the public interest is at full tilt (Michele and Demna Gvasalia are probably the designers most captivating the industry’s attention at the moment, despite their markedly different aesthetics), he is now introducing key products to his collections that can become mainstays of the Gucci product line.

Michele Gucci SS 2017 menswear show was his last specifically menswear show, as Gucci will be presenting all its menswear and womenswear products via one show in season to come (like every other mega-brand, Gucci too is re-evaluating its business strategy to compensate for the speed of the industry). Its primary theme was travel, which also seemed to be Milan Men’s Fashion Week’s prevailing consistency. But Michele approaches the idea of travel from a different point of view than other designers. He himself has an aversion to physical travel, preferring the travels of the imagination that one experiences while reading a good book or, especially in his case, designing. At the show, he mentioned Marco Polo’s 13th Century travelogue. As a document, the travelogue’s accuracy has been widely disputed. This interested Michele: the travelogue is as much an ode to human imagination as it is to physical movement.

It also makes sense in Gucci’s SS 2017 menswear collection, which (like previous Michele collections) was so rich in ideas that each product could have pages of analysis devoted to it: men wearing womenswear and women wearing menswear, Japanese souvenir jackets decorated by American kitsch, satin suits, ‘70s Kentucky Derby referencing dresses and dresses, leather raincoats, dorky sweater vests, embroiderered tuxedos, and on and on and on.

But to get back to the Slimane comparison, Michele absolutely inundates his shows in product. But like Hedi, Michele is introducing pieces (the souvenir jackets, the loaders, the t-shirts emblazoned with graphic reading “Modern Future”) that could becomes staples of both his collections and fans’ wardrobes. Now that people are buying into his Gucci fantasy, they are going to be looking for pieces that make sense for them. Michele is both ingeniously subversive and inventively business savvy. He is every bit as good as they say he is.



Prada SS 2017: While Most Milanese Designers Looked at Travel, Miuccia Explored Forced Travel


As previously stated, travel was the big theme for Milan Fashion Week SS 2017. Travel is one of the tritest notions in fashion, but like Alessandro Michele at Gucci, Miuccia Prada draped her exploration of travel in conceptual ideas. While Michele’s were poetically personal, Prada’s were conceptually political.

In Prada’s SS 2017 menswear show, the models walked uphill while carrying far too much weight on their shoulders. It immediately brings to mind the forced migrations of Syrians fleeing their ISIL-ravaged country towards safety in Europe. There is of course a ton of baggage that comes with high fashion labels incorporating these sorts of humanitarian political messages in clothing, but that baggage never feels overly apparent within the work of Miuccia Prada. She is, after all, a noted communist. Despite her clothing fetching astronomical sums of money, she seems to hold the belief that quality products limit over-consumption. She has ideas and she cares. There are two Prada costumers. One just loves the idea of Prada as the pinnacle of all things “chic” and modern, and one really understands the messages set forth by Ms. Prada.

The nylon backpack seemed to be the centerpiece of this collection; blown out to gargantuan proportions, it seemed to emphasize the collection’s exaggerated sense of utilitarianism. While the garments looked rooted in active wear, they were also capital “F” fashion. There were plays on silhouettes and a wide range of color and graphic arrangement. There was something here for every type of discerning Prada buyer.



Damir Doma SS 2017: A Diversified Color Palette Lightens the Usual Shapes

Damir Doma is a lot more influential in that “ninja goth” thing that went on a few years ago than he ever gets credit for. His garments, usually all in black and draped baggy over bodies, are less conceptual than those of, say, Rick Owens, but also in some ways more commercial. But Doma has remained committed to his aesthetic even as that trend has died down, and maybe that’s why he’s still here when so many of those designers died fast and hard (anyone remember En Noir?). Those baggy and frayed clothes came in a diversified palette for SS 2017: black, white, hunter green, mustard yellow, and navy. There wasn’t much anything going overly conceptual here, but jut about any of the pieces would ne nice to wear. I’m as sick of writing about MA-1 jackets as the next person, but Doma’s were quite nice: baggy sleeves, loose hem, and kimono flaps that could be attached in lieu of using the zippers. I also love the t-shirts that came with an extra piece of fabric tye-dyed to look like red flames. The womenswear pieces were nice but all looked a bit too ‘90s Yohji to really make an impact. When Doma was still in Paris, he was massively overshadowed by the glut of revolutionary designers living in the city. Italy was a good choice for him; his slightly oft-kilter clothes allow him to provide welcome respite from the glut of corporate luxury houses.


Marni SS 2017: Consuelo Identifies the Male Counterpart to Her Waify Nerd Intellectual Lady

Consuelo Castiglioni has defined a whole genre of women with the Marni label. You know the type of woman that I’m talking about here: she works in a gallery or perhaps runs an antique design bookshop, she has big classes, a waif-y build, an a charmingly odd personality. Muses include Margot Tenenbaum, Patti Mayonaise, and the flashback younger version of Orange is the New Black’s most endearing paranoid schizophrenic, Lolly Whitehill. The label’s menswear offering have always felt less essential. Most likely this is due to the assumption that any guy who looks stylishly normcore doesn’t have much interest in fashion. The problem is that isn’t really true, and Castiglioni has finally defined the man who buys Marni with SS 2017.

Adorned in an inexplicable amount of Velcro, Marni SS 2017 was fashionably dorky, proving that a confident can be as magnetic as a confident whatever else. The first look was a doozy: a light blue leather trench coat over a sloppily cut suit and a checked shirt. Followed by an even stranger ensemble: leather shorts (!) checked crewneck, and flip-flops. Nothing quites makes sense with Marni, but when put together it looks quite well-defined.


Fendi SS 2017: Working Man’s Fabrics, Rich Man’s Garments

Silvia Fendi used the terry cloth favored by Pablo Picasso as the jumping off point for the Fendi SS 2017 menswear collection. Though not used in every look, the fabric was used in most and influenced the overall direction of the collection. That direction was laid back and luxurious. But that’s kind of what Fendi always is. So this was a pretty good Fendi menswear collection.

ANNND that’s really about it. It felt like Gucci was about to lead a revolution in Milan, but it seems more accurate that Michele simply had a revolution at Gucci. Most of the other good collections (Calvin Klein, No. 21, MP) didn’t use a runway show, opting to show off their garments to buyers. Milan Men’s Fashion Week was extremely lackluster.

[FASHION REVIEW] Autre's Favorites from Milan Fashion Week

Oh, Italy. The land of luxury behemoths. Young fashion people scoff at Milan, but Milan is planting itself once more at the forefront of conceptual fashion. Versace and Prada will always be doing their thing. Damir Doma decided to leave the herd of Paris and create his architectural garments in Italy. Arthur Arbesser is injecting youth and idea-driven fashion into the city revitalizing Iceberg and launching his own brand. And, less we forget, Alessandro Michele is the hottest designer in fashion at Gucci. It feels like people are ready for Italian fashion again, and they certainly want Gucci to be relevant again. We’ve had so many years of “cool” and “arty” brands out of Paris and London that maybe the coolest thing to do right now is to pay heed to the luxury giants of Italy. It’s hip to be square, motherfuckers. – Adam Lehrer


Adam Lehrer's Picks

Gucci

And just like that, people give a shit about Gucci again. Italy has a new king, and his name is Alessandro Michele. It was only nine months ago that this guy was on the tip of no editor’s tongue and then three months and a women’s and a men’s collection later his influence has been felt radically at the house of Gucci and has reverberated throughout the fashion kingdom. The gender bending, fey dudes, and tomboy girls has been going on in fashion for a long time, but now as the standard at a house like Gucci it can be said to be the norm. Michele’s FW 2015 collection had a lot going on. It was as if Michele had bottled all these ideas up for years and was just waiting to be able to unleash them upon the world. The SS 2016 collection felt more singular. These clothes felt influenced by the ‘70s but at the same time they were insanely beautiful. There were fucking 66 looks in this collection and every piece has a different print! That is unbelievable in and of its self. I also like that Michele, while he does “bend” gender norms, still seems aware that a man’s body looks best in man’s clothes and ditto a women. The women’s looks were dresses and the men’s clothes were suits. I’m not going to say much about Michele other than that it speaks to the speed of the fashion system that a man can go from an accessories designer at a fading luxury house to one of the most important designers in the world at a hot luxury house in two seasons. Tom Ford’s takeover of Gucci was legendary. Michele’s will be radical.

Versace

Versace.jpg

 Fuck it, I’m going for it: VERSACE VERSACE VERSACE VERSACE! Versace is eternal. Even at its most irrelevant, Versace reigns supreme. Case in point: the Versace SS 2016 show saw Donatella reaching out to the women of the world. The message was clear: be yourself and conquer, ladies!

I think people have this bias against Italian brands that they are stuffy, overly traditional, and classist. In some cases, this might be true. But Donatella Versace is a woman of the world. The soundtrack, entitled “Transition” by Violet and friends, called on for women to stop listening to the shit people say about them. Women can really run the world, and Donatella wants to help you.

Versace is also intimately connected to American hip-hop culture, dating back to Biggie Smalls up to today with Nicki Minaj and the previously quoted Migos. Donatella embraces this connection, and her runway was the most multi-cultural of Milan Fashion Week. There is something so beautifully unpretentious about Donatella Versace, whether it’s the unabashed sexiness of her shows, her embracing of celebrity culture, or her support of younger designers like JW Anderson and Anthony Vacarello. That lack of class warfare has allowed Versace to remain relevant in the modern fashion sphere.

Speaking of the unabashed sexiness of her clothes, it has to be said: the girls in the Versace SS 2016 show looked HOT. Sorry to let my more base boring straight male instincts take over, but it has to be said. All the garments, smashingly luxurious, were slitted everywhere: legs, torsos, hips, necklines, and breasts are all well displayed. Street influences met couture and it all looked great. May Donatella reign.

Bottega Veneta

On the menswear end of things, I love Bottega Veneta. Its suede Chelsea boots are literally my favorites boots in the world (made popular by Kanye’s grungy dressed down wearing of the $1200 statement boots, I’m rather poor so I have wear the Top Man suedette versions). Creative director Tomas Maier has been a little more on the nose when it comes to womenswear, however. Bottega Veneta’s whole thing, super luxurious versions of everyday staple pieces, doesn’t always translate to great womenswear shows. The SS 2016 show felt particularly realized then. Maier was inspired by the open country, and presented some dazzling outerwear pieces. The tracksuits with cropped pants didn’t look anything close to sporty, but certainly could be worn for sport. It was almost a rebellious look. Coming back to the city though, a beautiful pantsuit emblazoned with a camo print was eye grabbing and kept to the theme despite it certainly not being outerwear. Maier is really coming owning his role at Bottega Veneta.

Marni

Of all the Italian brands, Marni perhaps feels the most like one of the Paris-based brands in its embracing of contemporary art and harsher aesthetics. Despite that though, the collections offer tons of colors and print. Marni can be abstract and accessible in equal measures. The Sonic Youth of fashion labels? Sure, why not.

Consuelo Castiglioni’s SS 2016 saw an apron-like shape emerge in various forms on the runway: in tunics, in dresses, and wool structures.  This collection had mystery to it. With all the shapes and layers draped upon the women, I couldn’t help but wonder what was underneath. It’s like when I was in middle school and girls started looking so painfully beautiful but also so utterly alien. I didn’t know what I wanted, but I knew that I wanted it.

The color palette of Marni SS 2016 is all over the place but cohesive. Hunter greens meld into browns and bright reds meld into blues. Marni still feels smaller than it should be, but maybe that is why it works. It’s a big Italian brand that holds its aura of the austere.
 

Damir Doma

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Damir Doma, in his second Italian outing since moving his brand from Paris to Milan, was smart to leave the City of Lights. In Paris, he is just one of dozens of young designers taking on brutal, conceptual, abstract, and “arty” fashion. In Milan, however, he is practically the only one. He stands out in Italy.

Doma works closely with his manufacturers, and perhaps that is why he decided to move to Italy. In any case, his unique relationship to fabric stands out in the SS 2016 collection. In strictly monochromatic colors, Doma plays around with the proportions of pantsuits, cloaks, dresses and jackets. I particularly enjoyed the elegant dresses that were then slashed to shreds at the bottom. It reminded me of old Rei Kawakubo. Also, in the vein of Rick Owens, there was a kind of sexy unsexiness to this collection, with wide and loose garments falling upon the models in such a way that only hinted at eroticism.
 

Arthur Arbesser


If there has been a moment of, “This designer has arrived!” this season, ala with Alessandro Michele at Gucci last season, it has been Arthur Arbesser. Arbesser released his debut collection as creative director for knit brand Iceberg as well as his first line for his namesake brand. Both collections were different and great in their own ways.

Arbesser brought bohemian sensibilities to Iceberg, with pin stripe satin bomber jackets worn over cropped pants. The clothes were very casual but cool and effortless. No one has thought of Iceberg for some time, but with Arbesser designing the ready-to-wear and Olivier Zahm heading the campaigns, it could be the new heritage thing. Wait to see what Arbesser does with the knits for a winter collection.

Balthus inspired everything. Arthur Arbesser paid attention to that notion with his SS 2016 collection under his namesake brand, installing a giant Balthus cat in the middle of his floor. The girls walking in the show looked painfully young; both in their facial features and in their little school girl mini skirts and also the Nikes and pajamas. I so often hate this sort of pubescent fashion that I am even more impressed with Arbesser that I like this. He’s searching for a romance in youth and I have to say he’s found it. And those blue leather pieces, hot damn.


Julianna Vezzetti's Picks

Prada

Prada didn’t leave any angle un-textured or un-embellished; metaphysical in the truest sense of the word. The collection created layers of content that could make you hiccup. The SS 2016 collection is seemingly a working girl on acid. The elongated silhouettes allow dimensions to be layered with additional accessories and patterns. Muted metallic and electric lace bibs offer the idea that we are just visiting this planet. The tailored samurai skirt with matching blazer eludes a strict rhetoric lifestyle. The wispy hair and drop waist dresses spark ‘40 and ‘50s-era inspirations; like Tim Burton doing Casablanca. Color accents were strategically placed with socks, gloves and earrings proving leverage to draw the eye out to see it as a whole identity.

Fendi

Fendi SS 2016 opened with a fiery red to ambre shade of dusty salmon and cool white. All of the trimmings manifest a vision of a Swiss girl with a militant edge. The braiding of leather and fabric accent the large well pockets in the dresses giving a sense of utility. The garments also relish a fashion functionality with the “skort” like design and culotte wide legged pants. Belief in this theory allows you two ideas within one singular collection. Flowing printed prairie dresses and billowing sleeves give the feminine tone to the masculine tailored structures. If all is fair in love and war then what are we fighting for.

Jil Sander

Will you drink the Kool-Aid of the country cult leader draped in silks and sanctity? The Jil Sander SS 2016 collection offered tweed hats acting as a protection barrier to shield unwanted followers in your direction. The ominous sounds and designs paint a very surreal vision of religion. It has a fine tuned reference point that can almost be read as boring, but with ample contingency to the presentation. The repetition off the shoulder design highlighted a consistent design. The cable cord belts create a restrictive and controlled energy much like a cult counterpart. The layering aspect has been all over the runway but Rodolfo Paglialunga embodies a comfort and effortless perspective at Jil Sander. He recognizes the DNA Jil created to carry on the legacy of the brand, but has played down some of the brutality and harshness that Sander was beloved by many for using.

MSGM

The opening sounds of dance punk band Le Tigre at the MSGM SS 2016 were electric. The models matched the intensity of the boisterous music by charging full speed down the runway. The energy created by the caustic music and fast-moving models was emblematic of the color palette of MSGM’s SS 2016 collection’s shocking ultraviolet hues. The layering in this collection offered a femininity to what was a slightly Tomboy-ish presentation. I was struck with a sense of nostalgia for my coveted JNCOs and chain wallet I would rock in the late ‘90s. The pastel ruffles paired with wide-legged short trousers exuded hues of that bygone era. The bondage of punk was presented in a very pop art manner with flowing chain dresses and chest pieces. This grunge girl is a skater who also happens to play with textural design. Using billowing fabrics at the hips, she communicates the source of her power.


Text by Autre Fashion Editor Adam Lehrer and contributor Julianna Vezzetti