“It’s a retour de Chine [return to China],” said Laura Biagiotti ahead of her show, pointing to coats and silk skirts made with patchworks of typical Chinese decorations. “These are not only decors, they are all auspicious prints — for a long life and well-being.” At times, round gold studs peppered the coats, adding a Ming warrior edge. A long, cozy red-and-black double-mohair coat felt “like a body blanket,” suggested Biagiotti, a self-described blanket-hugging “Linus,” of the “Peanuts” comic strip. The decoration on the coat, the “heart of Buddha, for double happiness,” reflected the designer’s contagious optimism. A white ribbed knit dress was shown with gaping holes stitched with Nylon threads — a modern take on Biagiotti’s bread and butter. And a floral pattern painted by hand gave a delicate touch to a black Mikado suit.
While the designer has doubts about the see-now, buy-now trend, she embraced mixing seasons, so that silk skirts were paired with voluminous knits. While the Chinese inspiration is not breaking any new ground, and was at times too literal, the collection was exquisitely crafted and felt authentic. Biagiotti was the first Italian designer to present a fashion show in China, back in 1988 in Beijing, and the large calligram in the background on the runway was dedicated to “Mr. Laura” by the brother of the last Chinese Emperor. At the time, the male term was used as a sign of respect for a very limited number of women. Fast-forward 30 years, Biagiotti still deserves that respect.