MILAN — Some designers don’t have to hit you over the head with their thematic inspirations or rely on camp antics to carry a collection. They take their fashion seriously and would prefer it if others did, too. A case in point: Piazza Sempione. Talk about clean living — the fall collection put out by that fine house is so sleek and spare that there’s hardly a button in sight, the better to allow the lean, linear shapes and luxe fabrics — roughened tweeds, double-faced alpaca and cashmere knits — to shine. And shine they do. While some looks may lack innovation, just wait. They’ll be socko at the cash register. In fact, Piazza Sempione’s sell-through performance at stores such as Barneys is, in a word, enviable.
It’s just that kind of envy, in fact, that can spur on a company like Bally to produce a ready-to-wear collection in the first place. The fall collection included puckered Victorian blouses, a great tan leather dress, distressed and styled with super-spare motorcycle jacket trimmings, shearlings, suedes and some coats with military intrigue. It’s only the house’s second collection, and already it’s an improvement over the last. If they keep this up, Bally will be the ones making others jealous.
Meanwhile the fall Cividini collection was a veritable trend express. The hot ones came out fast and furious — cropped pants in corduroy, zipper action on the coats, leather and tiny jackets in shearling. When you add Piero and Miriam Cividini’s great signature knits to the mix, the result is rock-solid.
That collection is sure to appeal to all sorts of women. Maska designer Istvan Francer, on the other hand, set his sights on the working girl who likes to kick up her heels when the office closes for the night. His skinny little suits were right for day while his papery evening dresses, inspired by those of the Twenties, were sweet without being cloying.
Antonio Fusco is another designer who has hitched his star to the tailored look for fall. He’s proud of the fact that his collection is now produced in-house, after a split from his former manufacturing partner GFT. To mark a break with the past, he sent out tons of suits and a whole lot of smart coats. While this didn’t revolutionize fashion as we know it, Fusco certainly proved his point. The tailoring is impeccable.
Just to illustrate that the Milanese know how to work men’s wear weaves in tweed, herringbone and glen plaid into a perfectly luxurious daywear collection, Vestimenta turned out a collection full of the stuff, from neat suits to double-faced coats and dresses.
Of course, Brioni has been known as an expert men’s wear resource for years. Now the company hopes to lure women with their handstitched buttonholes and super-luxe detailing, and not with dreary grays. Designer Fabio Piras’s first collection for the house was splashed with color and — as if you didn’t know — it was full of suits, including a slim skirt and fitted sheared mink.
Since Rebecca Moses sold her company to Herno last year, she’s been adding more tailored pieces to her knit-based collection, too. She used men’s wear fabrics — pinstriped, checked and plaid — for everything from halter dresses to trousers. These were runway-ready. Her sweater sets and chunky cable knit, on the other hand, looked so nice they begged a more intimate presentation. Why torture an audience dying to touch?
Laura Biagiotti does the kind of cashmeres that could win the blindfolded touch test every time, but are equally appealing in plain sight. The Roman designer sent out soft white sweaters woven with tiny silver beads and paired them with slinky little chiffon skirts. When her embellishments included leather leaf appliques, however, it all came tumbling down.
The crowds pressed against the glass hoping for a peek, if not a touch, at Trussardi’s show space were like those on the “Today” show. The ones who weaseled their way to the front saw a ponyskin trenchcoat and slinky fishtail skirts pass down the runway. What they missed were the details this house does so well, especially since siblings Beatrice and Francesco Trussardi used their little greyhound logo in less obvious ways. As anyone could see — even from the other side of the street — the two have their greyhound running in the right direction.
When your family specializes in making fabrics and men’s clothing, you certainly have a leg up when it comes to putting out your own collection. That’s Carola Barbera’s luck. Luciano’s granddaughter whipped up a small but rich collection under the Luciano Barbera label that included felt coats and dresses and cashmere jackets finished by hand.
While these are clothes that don’t shout or holler, if you give them a chance, they’ll give you more for your dollar.