A young woman radiates self-assured, unfussy flamboyance behind goggle-sized pink glasses. She wears a mesh shell over bra top and sparkly orange-and-yellow leggings, around her neck and slightly askew, a pink variant on a superhero cape. Not a typical fashion cape that says Salvation Army, Sherlock, or some other standard cape reference, make no mistake. But an honest-to-God superhero cape, roughly the same configuration — rectangle on a string — as a click-here-ships-today Halloween costume.
Never mind that this was a coed show; on Angela Missoni’s runway, only women wore capes, a sly follow-up to last season’s pussy hat protest, delivered in the wake of the still-raw U.S. presidential election. Or one could read it that way. Whether Missoni’s apparent engagement of her runway as social activism platform — the messaging via her admittedly adorable caped crusaders — remains to be seen. It is clear that her 20th anniversary as creative director of the house founded by her parents, the milestone celebrated with this show, found her in thoughtful mode.
Anniversaries will do that to you.
As early as two years ago, with the big 2-0 approaching and as she tried to recover from the 2013 deaths of her brother Vittorio and her father in rapid succession, Missoni found herself mulling fashion’s great existential question: Do I still have something to say?
Her conclusion was yes, but that she had stalled creatively; with that realization came the decision to push forward. Thus, this collection would not be a retrospective but a celebratory expression of the brand’s creative currency, respectful of but not mired in its own past. “A party, really,” Missoni said after the show.
And so it was, a fashion fete of clothes with a distinctive dressed up-dressed down appeal — easy and sophisticated, with just the right touch of eccentricity. It started with relaxed, festive dresses, both spare, lacy slips and full-skirted frocks, many transparent and in need of only an underpinning to wow at a real-life party. Not so everyday but all as delightful: giant tent-on-my-head hats in witty homage to Cristobal Balenciaga. Otherwise, Missoni layered with a light hand, as multiples of lean, airy knits found counterpoint in the luxe coziness of lush cardigans. As for the guys, Missoni made deft work of feisty color and pattern mixes in casual pieces. A party indeed, and a fine one.
Back to those transparencies — they were beautiful. As the industry’s current pro-women focus includes — finally — a focus on the treatment of models, perhaps it’s time to consider that some of these young women might prefer going to work with their breasts not on full view. We’re all so accustomed to the runway nipple show that we sit there, immune. We’re also not seminaked in our seats — give or take a Nicki Minaj. But one step at a time.