Fausto Puglisi is Italian. He likes to mix in odes to Miami and New York and other places through his collections, but at their core they’re always designed to represent his motherland. For fall, he went home old school in a very new school way. “I started with one of my latest obsessions [Paolo] Sorrentino,” said Puglisi, name-checking the writer/director of such lavish modern cinematic interpretations of Italian traditions as “The Young Pope” and “La Grande Bellezza.” “Rome and Naples but twisting in a modern way like today.”
He made his point very effectively the way Sorrentino would have, by opening his show with a short yet lush and direct fashion film featuring actress Cristina Donadio, a woman who has lived and it shows, engaging in a badass dressing ritual among the Greco-Roman statues in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples. She shows up as a power b—h wearing the ersatz tough side of Puglisi’s aesthetic — aggressively gilded lather bomber jacket, printed T-shirt, butch boots — and directs her court of Puglisi-clad minions to change her into a rich, regal red brocade dress robe, slippers and intense jewelry. She’s transformed into a different kind of queen. The film put his thoughts in context perfectly. He almost could have left it at that.
The collection had both sides of Donadio’s aesthetic, and then some. Puglisi wandered all over decorative territory with French maid-like feather trim on racy bourgeois things that didn’t quite work and some quick-hit short, color-blocked dresses. But the tough and tawdry in a good way and the regal looks won out. The latter was particularly engaging and flexed muscles Puglisi doesn’t always show. There was plenty of the overly ornate stuff he always does, including oversize bombers in quilted velvet and jeweled embroidery and a gown with a skirt slit in panels up to the hips with a medallion-embroidered cap. Worn with a giant wide brim hat, the papal reference was clear. This wasn’t just the Young Pope, but the Young and Frisky Pope. The brocade and velvets felt rich and new for Puglisi, as did a few maximally minimal looks, including a long, spare black gown with two slits that was worn with a black medallion pendant.