MILAN – Milan is once again basking in the joy of snarled traffic for Milan Fashion Week, a sneak peek at what real normalcy might look like one day.
Health passes are being checked at the door of in-person shows and presentations, giving a sense of security to events that not so long ago were held with shoulder-to-shoulder seating. Now, masks are worn, social distances kept.
It’s been on-again off-again for the past 19 months, and everyone is ready to embrace reopening, and with perhaps a little wardrobe shakeup. On the runway, the simple fashion response is denim and knitwear, and easy-to-wear shoes.
Here are the highlights from the second day of mostly womenswear previews for next spring and summer on Thursday:
EMPORIO ARMANI CELEBRATES 40 YEARS
Giorgio Armani celebrated 40 years of his Emporio Armani line with a retrospective show at his Silos museum and a new collection for youthful dressers that brimmed with colorful optimism.
“They have been 40 hard, very hard years. But also beautiful, very beautiful. I have to say to see these kids, as I saw them 40 years ago, made me very happy,” Armani told reporters, referring to the models who represent his youthful customer. “To see these kids so clean, so simple, so sweet, made me very happy.”
The Emporio Armani preview for next spring and summer featured both menswear and womenswear, opening with denim suits in dark tones for her and patchwork for him, before transitioning to wispier silky looks like chiffony minidresses, or belted shirts or jackets over loose trousers for men.
Menswear looks had an air of adventure, with maps printed on silken tops and trousers, coordinated with khaki- or sand-colored separates and worn with travel pouches. For women there were carefree peasant dresses with scoop necks and flouncy sleeves in the lightest of fabrics.
The collection ended on a strong color note, with jewel-tone monochromes for him accented by chunky necklaces that Armani said he would love to wear but doesn’t dare. For her, the final note was on skin-baring beaded and sequined separates .
Armani, 86, took a closing bow with Pantaleo (Leo) Dell’Orco and niece Silvana Armani, the respective heads of the men’s and women’s design offices for all of Armani’s collections -- a concrete gesture indicating future creative succession. They all wore matching navy tops and trousers, with white sneakers.
“I have to say that Silvana and Leo have been notable support for this Emporio Armani for all these years,'' Armani said
MAX MARA OVERTHINKS FASHION
Another winter of rolling lockdowns has given Max Mara creative director Ian Griffiths a lot of time to think.
His latest collection for next spring and summer was inspired by French writer Francoise Sagan, who, when forced by her parents to skip summer holiday on the Cote D’Azur to study instead, defied them intellectually and wrote a novel idealizing a romantic summer vacation.
“We have been doing that too, we have been reimagining our lives. At the point at which we can go out again, rediscovering the sheer joy of being out in the world, but with this rediscovered inner space,’’ Griffiths said backstage.
The new collection is inspired by workwear with a nod to street clothes. The Max Mara woman shows a bit more skin that usual with bandeau tops peeking out over loosely worn overcoats and mini skirts to show some leg. Streetwear comes into play in perforated tops and dresses, both easy to wear and pack. Short sheath dresses have utilitarian pockets, worn with driving coats. Long dresses in chunky knit or crochet minis provide comfort for early forays back into the world. But there were also flourishes of fantasy, wispy feathers on shift dresses under short sleeve swing coats.
Gigi Hadid closed the show with a denim shirt coat with contrast stitching, mini-skirt and bandeau.
Griffiths said these are looks meant to last more than one season -- a nod perhaps to a shift in thinking that hardened during the pandemic.
The color palette held neutrals of black and cream, navy and sand to flashes of yellow and orange, as well as beach-chair stripes. The footwear of choice was sure-footed sandals with rubber soles.
Griffiths also included a model whose shape was of more everyday, girl-next-door proportions, not the tall, uber-thin gazelles easily recognizable on Milan streets during fashion week. Griffiths said the casting was “expanding the idea of diversity to normalcy’’ and said he wanted “to show a woman who is proud of herself.”
DROMe READY TO RESTART
DROMe creative director Marianna Rosati basked in the chance “to finally live again” and experience “the sense of fashion week, and the sense of people coming together.”
Rosati took cinema, music and photography as inspirations for her latest collection, including graphic images and psychedelic images, applying them to her statement pieces, like corsets and jackets. Her Tuscany-based brand with roots in leatherwear has found fans in Bella Hadid and Ariana Grande.
Colorful corsets featured zippers and were layered with athletic knitwear pieces. Bandeau tops were worn with laced-up knit biker shorts for a sporty look. One-shoulder asymmetrical tops wrapped around the bodice and were paired with the brand’s mainstay leather trousers. Leather was treated with laser prints for a multi-color liquid effect. The color palette were basic white, nude and black against flashes of bright pink, heather blue and acid green.
The rush back to physical events has given the impression that little has changed, but Rosati said that maybe changes are brewing on a more interior level. “Maybe there is a difference in the way we approach things. I feel less stressed, more relaxed.”