Lightweight fairy dresses, high-life ensembles, two-piece flapper frocks and Belle Epoque looks with a cheeky sexiness were all part of the mix as the fall collections season continued.
Anna Molinari: Rosella Tarabini’s show notes at Anna Molinari promised a “spectacular interlocking of aesthetics and techniques” as well as “extreme juxtapositions,” which is another way of saying that, even after reading said notes, you might be clueless. Then again, even those who saw the runway show might be hard-pressed to distill the designer’s message. The juxtapositions came fast and furious, and Tarabini’s aesthetics interlocked themselves right into a tangle. Butterscotch plaids opened the show, with a peppy and prim high-belted coat, then frothy layered lace followed suit and on and on — vintage-y trapeze coats, bloomers, featherweight fairy dresses and sculpted ruffled fare galore.
Along the way, Tarabini showed a smattering of good pieces, some with the sweet feminine bent that has been the hallmark of her collections. The worst, however, were looks so unabashedly feminine that they ran to the bordello side of boudoir.
Tarabini is clearly in experimental mode, searching out new directions for the brand while tinkering with the season’s new voluminous silhouettes. But if overexuberance were a crime, then the sheriff would have no choice but to lock her up and throw away the key.
Menichetti: Roberto Menichetti may have abandoned New York in favor of Milan for the third outing of his eponymous collection, but the designer hasn’t let go of his signature spare style. Menichetti chose to show in his headquarters and replicated sunlight by illuminating the mostly glass structure with floodlights from outdoors.
For fall, Menichetti opted to work textured fabrics into simple shapes, fashioning washed and wrinkled cotton into slim suits with crisscrossed back straps, a detail that alluded to the motocross obsession the designer has been prone to overuse. Not so this time. He rounded out this ultrawearable assortment with cozy, yet lean cable knits in cream or cotton-candy pink and a geometric-patterned, mohair wrap pencil skirt. Menichetti was at his best, however, when indulging in a little bit of romance. For example, silk shirts and shirtdresses in chocolate, navy, or baby blue benefited from small sections of smocking or bib fronts. As they say, it’s all in the details.
Borbonese: Remember “The Thomas Crown Affair” and Faye Dunaway’s slightly neurotic, sexy style? Well, Alessandro Dell’Acqua captured that mood in the Seventies glamfest he staged for Borbonese’s fall collection.
These are clothes for self-assured women who cherish opulent, steamy looks, whether they’re sipping champagne in a hip club or simply walking the dog. And Dell’Acqua gave them plenty of high-life ensembles. A wholesome knitted cardigan became sexy when worn over a white satin blouse and low-rise cropped jeans, and a tiger-striped pony-skin coat topped a sequined silk chiffon skirt and top. Fuzzy wool chevron coats were belted in gold over velvet-trimmed pants, and a white astrakhan jacket was paired with a silk chiffon handkerchief dress in Borbonese’s signature bird’s-eye print.
Accessories — the company’s heritage and forte — also got the glam treatment. Frog closures decorated suede boots; other boots sported gold or jeweled heels, and oversized ostrich bags were embellished with zebra-striped insets. And just for good measure, Dell’Acqua threw in lots of fur scarves, suede hats and chunky gold lariat necklaces. Hey, that’s how his dames like it.
La Perla: Alessandro Dell’Acqua just might be the busiest designer in Milan, splitting his time between a signature line and the houses of Borbonese and La Perla. So what’s a guy to do with such a full plate? Mine decades past for inspiration, that’s what. This isn’t a novel approach, but in Dell’Acqua’s capable hands, even the turn of the century, which provided inspiration for fall at La Perla, works perfectly when updated and shot with the sort of cheeky sexiness that fans of this hallowed lingerie house look for.
Dell’Acqua opened with a great coat followed by a swingy jacket, both lavishly trimmed in astrakhan, and perfect for any latter-day czarina. Then the Edwardian parade began. But these weren’t the sort of girls you might see in a Broadway revival of “My Fair Lady.” Pintucked satin in baby blue or champagne made for some pretty dresses and skirts, their sweetness tempered by a sharp military coat or cadet jacket. The ubiquitous frilly blouses were modern when paired with pinstriped velvet cut into skinny trousers or pencil skirts, and almost all were sheer, the better to show off your undergarments; this is La Perla after all, dear.
Pollini by Rifat Ozbek: Rifat Ozbek took inspiration from the roaring Twenties for his fall Pollini collection. Graphic Art Deco prints set the rhythm with bold coats, then Jazz-age silhouettes picked up the beat, including the best of all — Ozbek’s newfangled two-piece flapper dresses, cut in metallic lace or glittering with happy spangles. But while Ozbek’s third show for the house exuded a vintage attitude, he also kept things realistic — and wearable. The collection isn’t perfect, but Ozbek is well on his way to creating a solid identity for the brand.