Top Trends from Milan Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2012
The economic news may be bad, but in Milan – fashion's own sunny upland – all
is superficially right with the world. In the unseasonal heat which made
viewing next summer's clothes feel appropriate, people laden with designer
carrier bags still stalk the Golden Triangle of store-lined streets, and
Italy's global luxury brands are still posting healthy figures. So their
designers have reasons to be cheerful, which their spring 2012 collections
undoubtedly are. It's essential to maintain la bella figura in case hard times
come, so they pulled out the stops on glitz, beading, lace and print, in the
brightest colours imaginable. The result is isn't deep or conceptual, just
bright, beautiful clothes, fabulous for a summer life.
There were fewer separate trends than in London, but a remarkable consensus on
how women will want to look next summer; the short answer is very desirable.
The top five trends will doubtless feature everywhere from haute couture to
high street. There was everything here from the great to the glitzy, but five
stars go to Prada for defining the season, Sander for cool, Pucci for making
sexy truly beautiful, and Dolce & Gabbana for pure Italian pleasure.
Our Top 5 trends for Spring 2012 from Milan Fashion week:
Take prim, suburban, 1950s style and twist it intosomething modern and slightly sinister. Miuccia Prada articulated a look others have skirted around in the season's most significant show so far. She may have described her Women and Car Engines collection as sweet, but these were bad girls at heart, despite the butter-wouldn't-melt pastel lace coats with pleated backs and contrasting pastel pleat chiffon skirts (pleat skirts are huge, including at clever but less rarefied brands like Schumacher). They wore Prada-ised, silk gazar versions of their boyfriends' bomber jackets, emblazoned with hotrod flames, and sported the same motifs printed on skirts or added like wings to the heels of their shoes. At Jil Sander, Raf Simons gave the models helmet hair (also at Fendi), veiled hats and 1950s-style jewellery and put them in sheer and opaque, elongated dresses based on the house signature white shirt before segueing into sinuous dresses in day-glo paisley or hot colour, and full evening dresses also based on the shirt. The result: pure, beautiful and slightly eerie. It's about a slightly off take on demure and ladylike, said Consuelo Castiglioni's show notes on her Marni collection that sliced classic, nip-waisted or boxy, longline jackets into twoto make a short jacket and skirt, and added a skinny nude skirt underneath to keep the original longer silhouette, using 1970s brights or naive prints in techno fabrics. Fendi's version of posh housewives was more literal, but came in mannish shirting stripes, with modernist geometric insets in prim white or beaded Goth black, while Bottega Veneta's dresses had a modern urban slant in dark, abstract, jewel-toned prints – even hand-painted-on jeans – and PVC insets.
Ironic that one period enthralling Italian designers is pre-Depression 1920s. Low-waisted shapes and Art Deco beading abound, masterly in Gucci's Chrysler Building-style black, silver and jade green mixes of appliqué leather, beading or fine silver chain to mimic 1920s metal embroidery; even 1980s box jackets and peg-top trousers get Art Deco treatment. There are softer, Mediterranean-shaded Art Deco prints at Etro, languid low waist dresses with sheer Art Deco panels at Alberta Ferretti, sinuous, long, Duchess of Windsor suits and screen goddess slipper satin at Giorgio Armani, and seaside-striped borders, rounded sailor collars and Poiret-style hooped skirts in Emporio Armani's monochrome collection.
This is traditional, Rome-based high couture, handmade with the finest embroidery and appliquéd lace, and many designers celebrated it as part of the current 'Made in Italy' marketing campaign. Even modernist collections featured it: Prada's textured, cut-out lace flowers, Marni's plastic daisy motifs and bead fringes, Bottega Veneta's hand-worked pleating and fine beading. Designers like Ferretti and Ermanno Scervino are specialists in working lace with fragile fabrics like chiffon, while Dolce & Gabbana do it like nobody else, with deep lace borders and yokes framing their wonderful, vivid Mamma Italia fruit, veg and pasta prints (tricky for an audience of 800 carbs-averse fashionistas) and crystals lit up literally like fairy lights on cocktail frocks and bathing belle swimsuits.
Dolce & Gabbana's exuberant celebration of Sicily was part of Milan's 2012 world tour – exotica and travel are constant themes, but this year was special, from Pucci's super-sexy yet tasteful gipsy senoritas in long flouncy skirts or loose silk tops and bermuda shorts that actually flattered, through Missoni's flamenco knit and print in sizzling colours – including perhaps the most intense blue ever – complete with long silk fringes and fans. There were toreador jackets at Moschino, as well as glorious, African-inspired beading and print, each interpreted in their own way by Bottega Veneta, Etro, Marni and Ferretti. Calm by comparison was the effortless safari gear at Trussardi and MaxMara.
Excess All Areas
Some women have always loved Italian fashion's propensity for glitz, and now is not the time to desert a faithful clientele. The 'if you've got it, flaunt it' brigade will be in heaven with Versace's bright, tight leather, liberally sprinkled with gilt studs, or micro-dresses softened with floating pleats or mermaid scarf prints. Twisted and mixed every which way, these prints are a complete genre, making the whole collection at D&G. They're also worked eighties-style in the hottest of red, purple and orange with leopard print and shimmer at Ferragamo, into whole suits at Cavalli, or darkly punky with studs and black bondage shapes at Sportmax – a sideline that Blumarine repeated in fluorescent neoprene with hula girl flowers, along with more wearable but bright floral fifties prom frocks.
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