MILAN — Italian designers spooned out the right fashion medicine for turbulent economic times: colorful and upbeat collections loaded with great accessories, retailers said.
“I feel that Milan put on a very optimistic season,” said Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Hong Kong-based Lane Crawford. “Everyone is mindful of the economic situation that we are all facing. In Asia, our last economic crisis is still very fresh in our memories, and in those years, we found that spending was really on special pieces, strong statements, glamour and feel-good items.”
While allowing that Milan Fashion Week, which wrapped up over the weekend, offered few runway fireworks, no dramatic new fashion directions and far too many extreme platform shoes, many buyers said they were satisfied with the offerings.
“We’re very pleased with Milan,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. “There are a lot of beautiful clothes in Milan and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“I thought Milan was very safe this season with the ‘power brands’ turning out very commercial collections,” added Marigay McKee, fashion and beauty director at Harrods, noting that Italian brands represent a large part of the store’s business that performs “exceedingly” well. “While the commerciality means that shows didn’t create as much excitement as they often do, it means we don’t need to worry about them being difficult to buy — or sell.”
Buyers cited a preponderance of bold, chunky jewelry, belts, flashy prints, shiny fabrics and a sludgy color palette of cocoas and okras with metallic hues providing the highlights.
“Milan also showed us flashes of flesh through cutout effects and transparency. The female body is being celebrated and shown off to full effect,” said Averyl Oates, buying director of the U.K.’s Harvey Nichols. Among standout collections mentioned by retailers were Aquilano.Rimondi, Giorgio Armani, Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Jil Sander, Marni, Prada and Versace.
The following is a rundown of what buyers had to say.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president and fashion director, Bergdorf Goodman: “Italy embraced the many moods of women. There was a strong presence of more or less sexy offerings, translated into shorter lengths, shapely hourglass belted silhouettes, skin-baring cutaways, transparency and close-to-the-body shapes. In another mood was soft dressing, which was languid and breezy and best expressed in the fabric of the season — satin charmeuse. Black as a summer color was still important here, though we were relieved to see a lot of neutrals, as well. We loved Milan’s obsession with fringe, and think our clients will, too. Must-haves will be the strong platform statement shoe and both the skinny-legging pant and collapsed narrow pantaloon. Most designers are offering bold unconventional jewelry as an add-on of growing importance. Collections of special note: Jil Sander for its innovative ways of dressing; Bottega Veneta for luxurious and delicious leather in all categories; Gucci for taking us away from it all; Marni for the relief of exuberant, artistic color and pattern; Versace for the sharpest sexiness, and Fendi for its uberfuture femininity.”
Michael Fink, vice president and women’s fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue: “I love that the designers in Milan have returned to doing what they each do best, instead of competing to see who can be most clever, or ridiculous. This has been a week of selective luxury. Special, luxurious items for real women — well, for women who can afford them. The jackets and fluid layering ideas at Armani were just fantastic. Christopher Bailey’s nostalgic and romantic collection for Burberry, all gauzy and looking like best-old-friends, was even more ethereal in the showroom. Raf Simons at Jil Sander set the standard for the fringe trend in what was a collection full of silhouette surprises, especially when seen from the backside. Aquilano and Rimondi’s sophisticated, fluid collection of separates really wowed me. And their debut for Ferré exploded the icons of the house into an important new direction. Overall, a softer, more sophisticated, romantic mood is the tone of the week, with touches of the tropics thrown in for color and print. Transparent layers actually look plausible this season.”
“My personal philosophy to beauty is paying attention to oneself. I love to be outdoors, lots of fresh air, trying to take care of yourself as best you can. I always notice that comes through,” says Felicity Jones, the global face of @shiseido-owned @cledepeaubeauteus, which launches today. Head to WWD.com to read more about the actress’ love for beauty and how she prepared for her new role in “The Basis of Sex,” playing the young Ruth Bader Ginsburg. #wwdbeauty (📷: @dandoperalski)
For men’s fall 2018, @giuseppezanotti drew on elements from streetwear, sport, biker, combat and rock ‘n’ roll. Pictured here are a pair of shoes from the collection, featuring zippers, rhinestones, and silver hardware. Head to WWD.com to see a roundup of the accessories from Milan’s men’s fall 2018 shows. #wwdfashion (📷: Andrea Delb)
To celebrate the 25th anniversary of @ralphlauren’s snowboarding collection, the brand is mining its archives. The iconic brand is reintroducing vintage styles and dropping new designs for a color capsule that will be available in Ralph Lauren stores and @openingceremony on January 25. The capsule will consist of 10 pieces, including the Snow Beach Pullover, pictured here, which is a collector’s item that rapper Raekwon wore in Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” video. #wwdfashion (📷: Tom Gould)
For @rochasofficial’s pre-fall 2018 collection, creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua channeled the sophisticated and intriguing Catherine Denevue in the film “Belle de Jour.” Polished collarless coats, midi skirts, suits and ’60s graphic motifs were all featured in the collection, adding a sense of discreet luxury. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion
“We tried to produce clothing of that couture quality, but the most daunting part was that we only had a matter of days [to do it],” said costume designer Lou Eyrich, who recreated Gianni Versace’s iconic looks for @americancrimestoryfx. Eyrich searched online retailers and vintage shops for original pieces from the design house and for @penelopecruzoficial, who plays Donatella Versace. Head to WWD.com to read how she created the Versace world. #wwdfashion
Only three months after her stellar debut catwalk season, @kaiagerber has inked her first big design collaboration –– with @karllagerfeld. The collection blends Lagerfeld’s Parisian chic aesthetic and the model’s signature West Coast casual style via RTW, accessories, footwear and more. The #KarlLagerfeldxKaia collection will launch in September with a series of events. Get all the details on WWD.com. #wwdnews #wwdfashion
Harrods plans to remove the famous statue of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed from the bottom of the Egyptian escalators and hand it back to Mohamed Al-Fayed. “We are very proud to have played our role in celebrating the lives of Diana, Princess of Wales and Dodi Al Fayed at Harrods and to have welcomed people from around the world to visit the memorial for the past 20 years,” said Michael Ward, Harrods managing director. “With the announcement of the new official memorial statue to Diana, Princess of Wales at Kensington Palace, we feel that the time is right to return this memorial to Mr. Al Fayed and for the public to be invited to pay their respects at the palace.” More on the news, with reporting by @loreleimarfil, at WWD.com. #wwdnews