MILAN — It only took a second for Milan Fashion Week to sweep away consumers’ desire for comfy sweats and loungewear, thanks to a renewed desire to dress up in the hopefully not-so-distant aftermath of the pandemic.
While dance floors were still banned this week, cocktail receptions, sumptuous dinners and parties/fashion presentations were all the rage again, inviting designers to align and provide the ideal garb for such events.
It’s clear that there is no single uniform for partygoers, but what all designer looks had in common was their dress-up attitude.
It started with Mila Schön on the first full fashion week day. The brand referenced and revisited its 1960s hits. Now helmed by a design team after cutting ties with designer Gunn Johansson earlier this year, for spring, the company found a picture by Ugo Mulas of famous Italian singer Mina donning a light crepe double tunic dress with intarsia black and white color blocks. While the sleek frock worn by the singer could be seen as an understated piece today, other options such as fil coupé plissé skirts and gowns were flowing and dramatic, boasting a rainbow palette spanning orange to green. The lineup was charming, with the right dose of vintage flair and contemporary wearability for ladies who party the old-school way.
Decidedly more contemporary and with sportswear inflections, no less, was the party attire presented on the Shi.rt catwalk. The relatively new project by Roberto Rimondi and Tommaso Aquilano has the precise goal to “provide women with contemporary garb at a fair price point,” as Rimondi put it. For spring, the duo mixed and matched everything they love at the moment, including unfussy sportswear, flashy sequins and rhinestones, bows and vitaminic colors. Backstage, they mentioned American designers Stephen Burrows, whose colorful intarsia pieces were among the sources of inspiration. Miniskirts featured a bow at the front that originated from the sleeves of a shirt — the brand’s signature item — tied around the waist, while shirtdresses were covered in sequins, mini and maxi, designing geometric patterns. Fluid pants were embellished on the front with sequins in zingy nuances while their back was left bare — a good trick for girls who might want to make a grand entrance at a party but leave it unnoticed.
With a presentation at his showroom in Milan’s Cinque Vie hip area, Gianluca Capannolo unveiled a range of occasion options for women who are not afraid to stand out from the crowd. Playing with a palette of vibrant, joyful tones, spanning from hot pink and orange to emerald green, the designer unveiled a charming multilayer tulle dresses showing maxi volumes, as well as mini frocks covered with a cascade of marabou feathers and fluid sequined gowns printed with arty abstract motifs.
Valentina Nervi — a relative newcomer — has already made clear she’s designing for the party crowd. “It is at night that souls are unleashed,” she said of her latest Nervi collection, a see-now-buy-now capsule of flamboyant pieces such as draped gowns and pajama-style sets bearing colorful floral prints and trimmed in marabou feathers. Concise and focused, the lineup was both daring and fun, a cool interpretation of loungewear to be taken from bed to the streets and which will certainly appeal to a young clientele of night owls, ready to dance the pandemic-stress away.
This past summer on her brand’s Instagram profile which she often takes over, designer Elisabetta Franchi documented her pandemic-compliant vacation in Ibiza suggesting her followers try the extravagant Lìo restaurant-slash-club on the Spanish island. With her spring collection, she proved she’s a master in offering party-ready looks, flattering and as sparkly as the sets sported by the Ibiza dancers. While her daywear was inspired by a Safari trip, her dressy options were her usual razzmatazz of dangling crystals on flapper styles, heart-shaped bodices over voluminous tulle gowns, and draped toga-like frocks with high slits covered in sequins. No matter the location, Franchi knows women like her want to have fun and she had them covered.
For the most eccentric spirits, Annakiki’s creative director Anna Yang even imagined a wardrobe for gatherings on an interstellar spaceship. Her futuristic designs combined exaggerated volumes, puffy shoulder embellishments in quirky shapes, optical black-and-white prints and shiny textures — spanning from moire fabric on sculptural minidresses to sequins on spaghetti strap frocks. Blazer jackets covered in ruffles and dramatic ballgowns were also flashy options for the party animals that love to remain the center of attention — and have people gravitating toward them.