By  on February 25, 2014

MILAN — Designers showing in Milan did not hold back this season, indulging their flights of fantasy with intricate craftsmanship and high-wattage collections.

“Milan has been quite a trip. We’ve visited Enchanted Forests here, Hellfire, Tyrolean towns, boho souks, avant-garde Berlin in the late Thirties, the American West, African tribes and back to the jet-setting Seventies. It’s made for a rich experience,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman.

Terrific outerwear, including a new generation of shearlings and fuzzy, fur-detailed coats; interesting patterns and textures; strong, tailored pieces cut in traditional men’s fabrics; cocoon shapes, oversize knits and rich accessories worked in luxurious materials were some of the season’s trends.

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“Milan this season was about emphasis on special details. The clothing on the runway is meant to be noticed!” said Brooke Jaffe, operating vice president of fashion direction for women’s ready-to-wear at Bloomingdale’s. Jaffe underscored the “profound use of embellishment, innovative materials and mixtures of textures,” in addition to an “exciting” color palette.

That said, Sarah Rutson, fashion director at Lane Crawford, deemed the Milan season a bit sedate, and a “mixed bag” of trends. However, she said the city’s “business offer” includes some pillar ready-to-wear brands, plus “refreshed” energy in the footwear category.

“We do have very big commercial brands here like Dolce & Gabbana that will remain strong and growing at a very healthy rate, plus shoe brands like Gianvito Rossi and Aquazzura, relatively new to the mix, have really become very important leaders in their category and top players in the shoe department,” she said.

“The luxury world continues to flourish and our budgets reflect our confidence in Milan,” said Barbara Atkin, vice president of fashion direction at Toronto-based Holt Renfrew, disclosing plans to stage a “Made in Italy” event in October in all its stores.

Here’s what retailers had to say:

Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus:
Trendspotting: “Men’s wear fabrics are everywhere — the idea of something tailored and masculine played back to something soft and fluid. There were also shearlings on every runway, the best ones probably at Prada in the interesting metallics, purple and red. The oversize knit and boyfriend bomber jacket becomes the new biker jacket for fall.”
Favorite Collections: Bottega Veneta, Aquilano.Rimondi, Fendi (particularly furs). In showrooms, Brunello Cucinelli’s evening launch and Gianvito Rossi footwear.
Sound off: “Roberto Cavalli was actually a beautiful show. The excruciating amount of heat that was permeating from that ring of fire almost obscured how gorgeous that collection was, because one was beginning to wonder if there was oxygen left in that tent while we were sitting there watching it.”
On Milan: “I would love to see Milan a little more condensed, so we would get more shows in in the course of a day. I do find I eat in Milan, where there is fantastic food, far more than in any other city because I have time for lunch.”

Charlotte Tasset, general merchandise manager of women’s apparel, beauty, lingerie and children’s apparel, Printemps:
Trendspotting: “The great outerwear in general. Must-have items include shoes and coats at Prada, the knits at Pucci and the Moschino T-shirts.”
Favorite Collections: Prada, Pucci, Missoni.
Sound off: “Milan was diverse yet showed strong collections. It was a good season. Among the up-and-coming talent was Jeremy Scott, whose first collection for Moschino was fun and refreshing. It was full of energy. It will also be a commercial success with a lot of must-have items. Printemps will have the collection exclusively in Paris department stores for fall-winter 2014. Marco de Vincenzo also displayed amazing work and craftsmanship.”

Magali Ginsburg, head of buying and category management, and
Trendspotting: “Patterns galore in the form of metallics, collages and textures like brocade, lace, voiles and appliqué. Yellow, oranges, prune, wine and turquoise colors are the preferred colors for next season, even better when all mixed together.”
Favorite Collections: Dolce & Gabbana, Missoni, Marni, Marco de Vincenzo, Stella Jean and Barbara Casasola.
Sound off: “So far the fall-winter season has been very expressive with colors and patterns like Dolce & Gabbana, MSGM and Aquilano.Rimondi, just to name a few.”
On Milan: “There is a clear sense of renewal at this year’s Milan Fashion Week. Milan still has a bright future ahead with countless established luxury brands, while at the same time promoting avant-garde and emerging talents.”

Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford:
Trendspotting: “Driving business will be outerwear, knitwear, patchwork furs and boots, ankle length and higher. The Thirties, among other decades, stand out the most, seen in cocooning and boxier shapes. There has been so much color, which has been great, but fabrications have leaned on the heavier side, which is problematic.”
Favorite Collections: Prada, Bottega Veneta, Fendi, Pucci, Stella Jean.
Sound off: “It would be great to have Milan more evenly matched with New York and London with up-and-coming new designers, which is what we are all looking for.”

Tomoko Ogura, senior fashion director, Barneys New York:
Trendspotting: “Cozy outerwear continues to make a strong statement. Shearling is the standout texture. The first look from Bottega Veneta — a clean, slim shearling coat with a belted waistline — was beautiful. In addition to the all-over fuzzy coats there have been many fur accents. They come in different shades and sizes through scarves, trimmings, patchwork and as lining in and outside of shoes and bags. We love the camo pony and fur combat boot from Fendi and the shearling-lined motorcycle sneaker-boot from Giuseppe Zanotti.”
Favorite Collections: Prada, Marni and Bottega Veneta.
Sound off: “Compared to New York it felt like spring in Milan. We were generally impressed with the offering in accessories and shoes and feel there is a lot of opportunity in this area. Some of the highlights include Valextra, Zagliani, Aquazzura and Gianvito Rossi. Valextra’s new Meneghina pony bag and cross-body circle bag are fantastic.”

Brooke Jaffe, operating vice president of fashion direction for women’s ready-to-wear, Bloomingdale’s:
Favorite Collections: Gucci, Fendi, No. 21, Aquilano.Rimondi, Moschino, MSGM, Giorgio Armani.
Sound off: “The candy colors at Gucci and the short embellished dresses. Jeremy Scott’s Moschino show made us smile. Seeing a drone flying overhead at Fendi taking pictures was a new one.”

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