MILAN – Pre-pandemic fashion delirium is back.
After several COVID-induced calm seasons, Milan Fashion Week is back to its pre-pandemic splendor: with crowded seating, gridlocked streets and sidewalks packed with fashion fans wanting a glimpse of stars and influencers.
After a lot of pandemic talk of how the fashion system needed to change -- that is, slow down — few have been able to resist returning to the world as they knew it, no matter how much traffic and hustle it produces.
This week’s runway shows will close with the return of another Milan tradition: the Green Carpet Awards to recognize advances in sustainability.
Here are some highlights from Thursday's mostly womenswear previews for next spring and summer on the second day of Milan Fashion Week:
PRADA EXPLORES CRUDE SILK
The latest collection by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons explores the space between minimalism and decorations, with clean silhouettes and transparent materials.
The collection starts with form-fitting, slightly cropped bodysuits crafted from poplin shirting, in industrial colors like gray and ivory. They are worn under boxy jackets and longer opera coats, then finally, a loose-fitting dress in crude silk and pretty lace detailing, suggestive of a night dress.
‘The clothes are about simplicity, with no unnecessary complication,’’ Prada said in show notes. ‘’ Politically, theoretically, aesthetically, we are drawn to these notions again and again. The idea of directness.’’
The silhouette was simple. Dresses wrap around the body, as casually as a towel after a shower. Transparent, tissue-y overcoats gave a sense of lightness. Naive applique flowers decorate handbags and jackets, at times holding in place a trailing tail of fabric.
Even with the feminine touches, androgyny underlined the collection, in particularly in the Prada uniform looks: jumpsuits, slim trousers and jackets. Shoes were snub-toed Mary Janes or loafers. Bags of the season included the Prada inverted triangle handbag and large shoppers in contrasting pink or lime.
‘’More than any other collection, this one is filled with different views. There’s a mirror of cinema in the collection, of witnessing fragments of a larger whole,’’ Simons said.
MAX MARA GETS LOST IN THOUGHT
The Max Mara silhouette for next season evokes feminine modernity, with voluminous mariner trousers and skirts that flair from snug at the hip into a cascading torrent of swishing movement. The volumes -- evident also in boxy jackets and oversized coats -- are balanced by shoulder-baring halters and crop tops.
Creative director Ian Griffiths said he took cues from 1930s female intellectuals on the French Riviera, citing Renee Perle, the muse and lover of photographer Jacques-Henri Lartigue, and architect Eileen Gray. There is a purposeful androgyny in the collection, with David Bowie in loose 1980s trousers appearing on Griffith’s mood board.
They are looks that invite contemplation, while offering unrestrained movement for a woman intent on intellectual pursuits.
Max Mara presented a neutral color for next season, in raw linen that can range from gray to khaki, which was set off by soothing, sun-faded shades of yellow, green and blue, creating a harmonious trio in a baggy overcoat over swimsuit combo, finished with a knit bathing cap.
Bags are large enough for a weekend getaway. Shoes are platform sandals. And hats feature oversized brims.
Jeremey Scott wanted to inject buoyancy into the global discourse. And he couldn’t have been more literal with a Moschino spring-summer 2023 collection that incorporated blow-up swimming pool floaties into looks with more than a touch of whimsical ingenuity.
Plastic ring floaties gave structure to hemlines, while a pool raft became a tongue-in-cheek stole. Blow-up references were everywhere: from necklines, to bra cups, to shoes and even bags. More often than not the floaties were part of the garment, like the inflatable lapels on a black pant suit. Life-saving buoys also got their due, as headpieces and inflatable peplums.
Beneath it all was a collection that took summer seriously, with a plethora of warm-weather suits in blue or yellow, with neat white trim; fun striped short outfits recalling beach umbrellas, accented with drink floaties as bracelets; and oft-neglected bathing suits, here in bright cartoon prints with a blow-up plastic jacket, hat and bag to match.
Scott said in show notes that the references were a direct twist on the word “inflation.”
But beneath the inflatable hijinx, there were also slinkier numbers.
A long black dress featured a sexy criss-cross halter anchored by big red hearts, and a bright pink wrap cocktail dress was paired with heels graced with curving flamingos. An elaborate mermaid dress in ocean blue sported two hip bustles with inflatable dolphins riding the waves, while an inflatable swan lent drama to a white Grecian dress.
“Ultimately, it’s about offsetting the negativity ... even when the rest of the water is shadowed in gray. That’s where the joy may be found,’’ Moschino said in notes
EMPORIO ARMANI’S FREE SPIRIT
For his more youthful Emporio Armani collection, Giorgio Armani created looks that travel well, titling the new collection: “In Transit.” A shadow cast of a Japanese Torii gate on the show’s backdrop suggested one destination.
The collection was rooted in neutrals and tranquil hues, with soothing movement created in plisses, beading, sequins and prints. Soft jackets gave an easy definition to summer dressing, with loose trousers, often gathered at the ankle. Diaphanous sheers created layers over trousers, or as dresses or even flowing, elegant jumpsuits. Elegant wrapped trousers cut a modern silhouette with a sheer knit vest
Armani, 88, received a long, appreciative round of applause at the end of the show.
The Dsquared2 designing Canadian twins Dean and Dan Caten unleashed their clashing, boisterous beach-meets-urban cool collection inside an elegant Milanese palazzo.
“It’s contrast. Never be predictable. So this is unpredictable for us. And the collection is unpredictable, so two wrongs made a right,″ Dan Caten said backstage after the show.
The designers chose the most transparent of textiles to create their summer layers: blue lace jacket over a sheer yellow printed skirt, worn with beachy plaid tops. Loud 1970s orange plaids clashed merrily with green and brown florals, while orange and green stripes invited contrast with diagonal stripes in blue, toned down with a sheer green jacket.
The twins redefined the teeny bikini, pairing a top with oversized swim trunks over white trousers, the ultimate surf look.
Makeup was restrained and cool, a blue lip or a green eye lid.