MILAN — A Sixties spirit blew through Milan, but not the hippie, bell-bottom-wearing kind.
Ladylike elegance and polish were de rigueur as designers harked back to an era when women dressed up, and bright colors conveyed a message of optimism for fall.
“This season was very strong. The overall look was cleaner and more grown-up than what we saw in New York,” said Amanda Brooks, fashion director at Barneys New York.
“I am encouraged that designers have focused more recently on making clothes that women will wear for a long time, not just for a season,” she added.
Averyl Oates, chief buying director at Harvey Nichols, praised the luxurious textures, such as velvet, tweed and fur.
“The mood is definitely upbeat and there are plenty of colors to choose from. Red still reigns supreme, but there is also green as a predominant message,” she said.
Despite a delay of more than an hour, Prada won plaudits for its textured effects, which ranged from fake fur to plastic paillettes. Other standout shows included Marni, Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta, Gucci and a lesser-known Italian label — Aquilano.Rimondi — which scored a hit with a collection of elaborately embellished cocktail dresses and richly textured coats.
“A breathtaking show, and a glorious moment for them,” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director at Neiman Marcus. “The collection possessed the kind of detail one expects from couture, with exceptional quality.”
Designers mainly stuck to tried-and-tested formulas, with retailers praising superior craftsmanship and a good balance between editorial and commercial looks.
“Some may see it as not taking enough risks, but, in my opinion, it isn’t what Milan is about anyway,” said Leonardo Girombelli, brand manager at TheCorner.com, owned by Italian e-tailer Yoox.
Here is what retailers had to say about Milan Fashion Week:
Key trends — keepers: A beautiful and rich autumnal color palette, with deep hues of green, teal, rust and gold, often worked in unusual combinations; texture achieved through furs, leather, python, chunky knits, felted wools, nubby bouclé tweeds and longhaired mohairs; fake or “eco” fur options; elements of shine through Lurex, lamé, beading and paillettes.
Amanda Brooks, fashion director,Barneys New York Standout collections: Marni; Jil Sander; Bottega Veneta; Fendi.
Key trends — keepers: Lots of glamour; rich colors; the highlights in terms of items were the trompe l’oeil boots at Prada, the multicolored lizard-adorned bags at Fendi, the ski sweaters at Jil Sander and the black lace and print cocktail pieces at Bottega Veneta.
Key trends — losers: My gripe is that many designers recently have been using fabrics that are too thick. While they hang beautifully on a hanger, those heavy, heavy fabrics just don’t sell.
Linda Fargo, senior vice president,fashion office and store presentation,Bergdorf Goodman Standout collections: A special mention for Aquilano.Rimondi for their exquisitely sophisticated collection in unexpected colors and soft Deco-esque geometries.
Key trends — keepers: Seventies-inspired polish and glamour, best exemplified at Gucci; tonal dressing and vivid gemstone colorations; innovative and novelty fur; luxe materials — lace, velvet and exotics; diversity in outerwear.
Sound off: We would like to see the show schedule consolidated, so that we had more adequate time to wrap up markets in New York and London.
Sarah Rutson, fashion director, Lane Crawford, Hong Kong Standout collections: Marni is so back on track. Its cleaner, linear feel will really fly at retail. At Jil Sander, the Sixties cuts and couture sensibility mixed with knitwear, and the proportions, were beautiful.
Sound off: It sometimes felt there was an emotional disconnect to the collections designers were showing. I really feel that a lot of them have “China syndrome,” reaching out to the Chinese consumer with their eye on the prize, and showing what they believe the Chinese woman wants in terms of color and femininity and an almost “primness” to styling. Often I felt the runway looked more like costumes than clothes — where was she going to wear all of this?
Key trends — keepers: Everyone is always after the perfect winter coat, and there were some strong examples this season, again at Jil Sander and Trussardi 1911, but also at Marni, where they came in sophisticated colors with chic three-quarter sleeves. Simple, minimalist shapes in dark or vibrant colors are versatile enough to become the great essentials that are the core of every woman’s wardrobe.
Stephanie Solomon, vice president of fashion direction, Bloomingdale’s Standout collections: Gucci; Prada; Giorgio Armani — Armani’s collection was a tour de force, one of his best in years.
Key trends — keepers: Knee-length dresses and a narrow, lean silhouette; pencil skirts; slouchy men’s wear pants; fur, whether real or fake, on everything; the continuation of color, best illustrated at Blumarine, Gucci and D&G. This is a real indication that we’re going to have an optimistic fall.
Sound off: I love the concept of bringing luxurious fabrications to a young girl, as seen at Prada, because I think the timing is right for young girls to dress up and to feel glamorous.
Jennifer Wheeler, vice president of women’s designer apparel, Nordstrom Standout collections: Marni; Missoni; Jil Sander; Prada.
Key trends — keepers: Chiffon, fur, python (hopefully there will be California-friendly options in the showroom); jet beading; the continuation of the blouse; great color from reds to purples, dark greens and wines to soft, nudey pinks.
Business outlook: We are feeling optimistic about business right now. The customer is responding to what we currently have in the stores, and fall is shaping up to have lots of new reasons for the customer to continue to shop.
Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director, Neiman Marcus Standout collections: Gucci; Bottega Veneta; Aquilano.Rimondi; Versace; Marni.
Key trends — keepers: We’re happy that major messages like the abundance of color continued from New York through to Milan. We’ve been impressed too with the polished, polite, ladylike spirit on show that will appeal to our customers. We spotted many more Sixties references here in Milan, a couture attitude with fine detailing but with a futuristic attitude referencing designers such as Courrèges.
Sound off: As we come out of this exceptional global economic situation, our customers are looking for very special items of an artisanal level. It’s important designers speak to a woman of affluence, which is what we’ve seen in Milan.
Barbara Atkin, vice president fashion direction, Holt Renfrew Standout collections: Gucci; Fendi; Marni; Etro; Jil Sander; Prada.
Key trends — keepers: Fur; leather; new silhouettes in coats; a return to great sporty classics; color impact; innovative decorative fabrics with surface interest and shine.
Business outlook: Our budgets are flexible in order to go after opportunities as we see them. Milan collections have provided opportunities to expand our outerwear, fur, leather and knitwear businesses.
Sound off: The long length of time between shows allowed us to see the numerous presentations and new, up-and-coming designers, and visit showrooms and new stores. Some of the new designers we are excited about are Carlo Contrada, Isabella Tonchi, Worth, Max Kibardin for footwear and an exciting project for Africa called Carmina Campus by Ilaria Fendi.
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