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MILAN — Designers showing in Milan did not hold back this season, indulging their flights of fantasy with intricate craftsmanship and high-wattage collections.
This story first appeared in the February 25, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“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.
See the Fall 2014 Milan Collections Here >>
“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, Thecorner.com and Shoescribe.com:
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.”
Cindy Ho, fashion director, 360 Style, Kuwait:
Trendspotting: “Sportiness and the artisanship of embellishment, luxurious materials, techniques like origami (Bottega Veneta). Comfortable shoes.”
Favorite Collections: Bottega Veneta, Marni, Prada, Etro.
On Milan: “It is an amazingly strong and creative season that we are so pleased with. Somehow Milan has always been commercial to us but this time, each designer is doing so differently and nicely done.”
Buying strategy: “Our budget is up compared with last year and our business is still strong in the region.”
Jennifer Wheeler, vice president, designer apparel, Nordstrom:
Trendspotting: “Amazing outerwear with shearling and Mongolian lamb emerging as the key trends in fur; Sixties vibes; global influences/folkloric, and abstract color blocks.”
Favorite Collections: Gucci, Missoni, Etro, MSGM.
Sound off: “Milan continues to be home to a number of our key designer businesses. We saw a nice evolution from many of the houses. With the variety of strong outerwear seen in Milan, next fall there will be plenty of fabulous coats to keep you warm and on trend. Budgets will be up with the collections that are performing well.”
Pascale Camart, head buyer of women’s wear and accessories, Galeries Lafayette:
Trendspotting: “It was a very strong outerwear season with patchwork, striped and intarsia colored fur, and outwear in knitted fabrications. Ruffles (even feathered ruffles at Marni), Neoprene, plissé, geometric panels, shiny materials, shaggy and textured fabrications, highlights of tribal influences (from Pucci and Marni). Sportswear inspiration, both in silhouettes and material, continues to be strong from outerwear to footwear.”
Favorite Collections: Marco de Vincenzo, Marni, Au Jour Le Jour, Fendi, Bottega Veneta, MSGM, Pucci.
Buying strategy: “Customers are looking for change and there was enough newness in Milan for us to invest in and increase our portfolio. Brands like Au Jour Le Jour add an essential wit and humor to enhance a dynamic business.”
Justin O’Shea, buying director, MyTheresa.com, Munich:
Trendspotting: “Prêt-à-couture — if you don’t have a stone, stud, feather or crystal stuck somewhere on your outfit then you might as well not walk out of the house next fall. Patchwork fur — this is not the season to be conservative on the fur front. Patched, shaggy, colorful and volume are all prerequisites when it comes to the choosing criteria. Marni, Prada, Fendi, Pucci…the list goes on. The Instagram factor — over-oversize hoods seem to be the blogtastic trend of the week. Dolce’s crystal beheading hood and Fendi’s ‘that’s not a hood, this a hood’ mink number were definitely the clear winners.”
Favorite Collections: “Prada. What can I say except, Miuccia, you are amazing! Dolce & Gabbana, you bring a smile to my face. One of your best.”
Sound off: “Except for singeing my eyebrows, the ring of fire at Cavalli was pretty cool.”
On Milan: “Milan is in a transition phase. Except for a select few, it feels a little like going through the motions. There is so much history in Italian fashion, and everyone, including myself, is desperate to see it return to its heyday. The biggest obstacle is how to compete with the modern fashion brands without losing your existing consumer.”
Buying strategy: “Case by case, but for some brands I am increasing exponentially. There is becoming a significant separation between the Italian businesses which are really making a global impact and others, which are stagnant.”
Colleen Sherin, senior fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue:
Trendspotting: “A major focus on luxe outerwear, often styled with something light, sheer and wispy underneath, providing an interesting contrast. Decorative jacquards, brilliant gold shine, and artisanal embellishments, including feathers and chunky crystals, added excitement to the collections and provided a counterbalance to men’s wear tweeds, herringbones, houndstooth and plaids. Shades of green appeared to be a firm favorite in Milan, ranging from olive to deep forest, as did bold pops of color.”
Favorite Collections: Gucci, Fendi, Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci, Marni.
Sound off: “Milan continues to make strides in supporting and platforming young designer talent, with MSGM presenting a strong collection on Sunday night and with Giorgio Armani offering his theater space to Au Jour Le Jour as he had done for Stella Jean last season. The scariest moment of the week was the ring of fire stage set at the Roberto Cavalli show, and despite the one-hour wait, Moschino put a smile on our faces at the end of a long day.”
Tiziana Cardini, fashion director, La Rinascente:
Trendspotting: “Milan is becoming more substantial, with bigger brands becoming sharper, with a more effective vision and offer and more focus, and the new generation that is becoming more sizeable and convincing: MSGM, Marco de Vincenzo, Stella Jean, Gabriele Colangelo, Fausto Puglisi and Arthur Arbesser. They are consistently evolving and defining their style. In general, there is a lot of elegance, and a measured control on the offer.”
Favorite Collections: Fendi, Pucci, Bottega Veneta, Marni, Moschino.
On Milan: “There is a great positive energy, and designers have been pressing the accelerator and have been more focused.”
Linda Fargo, senior vice president, fashion office and store presentation, Bergdorf Goodman, New York:
Trendspotting: “We loved all the earthy and evergreen palettes, as well as the vibrant jewel tones. It will be refreshing to have color in the store when there’s certain to be plenty of black, gray and neutrals. Outerwear remains the strong suit of many collections, with a big nod to the cozy factor of capes, blankets and tactile materials like shearling, alpaca, fox, luxe cashmere. We have some valid concerns about the plethora of oversize, extra-warm, cozy-up clothes appearing on the worldwide runways.”
Favorite Collections: Prada, Bottega Veneta, Pucci, Fendi. Marni’s tribal looks were extraordinary.
Sound off: “We’re happy to report that we’re following some emerging talent here now, too, aside from the established houses. A request to consolidate the schedule please.”
Jennifer Cuvillier, style director, Le Bon Marché:
Trendspotting: “Sporty elements continued from spring with knitwear and technical fabrics on oversize outerwear pieces. One of the key trends is the artful happiness in fashion, clothes that make us happy and are linked to art pieces. For example, the rainbow palette at Marco de Vincenzo, as well as his Soulages art pieces effect, the abstract artistic silk prints at Marni by Magnuss Plessen as well as the flower dress which reminds me of Andy Warhol’s Flowers famous art pieces. Also the Stella Jean hand-knitted art work. Colorful fur and shearling pieces also bring fantasy and happiness.
“The other major trend is the sophisticated Desert X Arizona dream, with amazing feather work at Marni, playing with all the desert color palette and amazing feather and embroidery details, as well as the main silhouettes at Fendi and Max Mara.”
Favorite Collections: “Marco de Vincenzo was a real statement, an amazing work on material and color effects, a fresh collection and a new up-and-coming designer name.”
Barbara Atkin, vice president, fashion direction, Holt Renfrew, Toronto:
Trendspotting: “Generous coats; furry, fluffy stuff from knitwear to fur; sport codes; Seventies Mod; colorful prints and textures. Hemlines are getting a little longer and there’s a feminine feeling to a lot of the fabrics.”
Favorite Collections: Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Gucci, MSGM, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Marco de Vincenzo, Stella Jean, Fausto Puglisi and Brunello Cucinelli.
Sound off: “This is a huge coat season. For us in Canada, this is a perfect commodity.”