Fashion / Style

Milan Fashion Week Fights Heavyweight Absences With a Buzzy Debut, a Wacky Video and Knitwear

Keeping It a Little Wild

BY // 03.02.21

With such fashion heavyweights as Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Versace choosing to skip Milan Fashion Week, the proceedings seemed a little subdued, although the ready-to wear debut of designer Kim Jones at Fendi, the second collaboration between Prada co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, and the return of Valentino after a season in Paris left plenty for observers to get excited about even during these pandemic times.

The parade of Italian fashion, in digital presentations and occasional live-streamed runway shows without an audience, also included a wild and crazy fall collection from Dolce & Gabbana, a wacky video based on the classic film, The Women, from Moschino‘s Jeremy Scott, and the debut of the hottest new trend — an abundance of knitwear interpreted in a variety of ways.

All eyes were on Fendi’s Kim Jones, who succeeded Karl Lagerfeld as artistic director of the fabled brand. In his initial ready-to-wear outing, Jones stuck to the Fendi basics, with “opulent minimalism” that paid homage to Silvia Venturini Fendi and other women who created and have nurtured the Italian fashion house.

The collection featured ribbed knit bralets and skirts, leather jumpsuits, satin slacks and off-the-shoulder blouses, fringed sweater dresses and dramatic shearling and fur coats in monochromatic looks, ranging from camel to soft marble shades and total black. In a nod to Fendi’s heritage, embossed Selleria stitching lined the lapels of some leather coats.

In their second collaboration together for Prada, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons said they were inspired by the idea of change and transformation. That idea translated into a collection that includes body-hugging stretch jacquard-knit bodysuits — “representations of and substitutions for exposed skin,” the duo said in explanation — and reversible wraps with pailettes on one side and faux fur on the other that are “symbiotically symbolic of protection, and of grace.”

Overcoats in a shade of bright yellow or dripping in dark sequins also stood out, along with colorful gloves attached with small zip purses.

Dolce & Gabbana threw caution to the wind with an over-the-top ’90s-themed collection of riotous colors and outrageous styles. Aided by two small robots created by the Italian Institute of Technology, young models attempted their best vintage supermodel imitations while showing off an array of 135 looks that ranged from see-through plastic overcoats to space-themed mini-dresses and holographic puffer coats.

Dolce & Gabbana at Milan Fashion Week
Dolce & Gabbana leopard sweaters. (Photo courtesy of Dolce & Gabbana)

By contrast, Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli was in a dark mood, showing a virtually all-black-and-white collection that exhibited a bit of an upscale punk attitude. Hemlines were super short (or long), harlequin patterned-coats were featured in all lengths for men and women, and some gowns consisted of little more than black fish netting.

Piccioli also debuted crocodile-embossed combat boots as well as more dainty heels with a leather floral print.

Of all designers, Moschino’s Jeremy Scott has most used the pandemic as a time to expand his creativity. Last season, he staged a marionette show with puppets of models displaying the collection while famous guests like Vogue editor Anna Wintour in doll form looked on. For fall 2021 Scott filmed a video that plays homage to the classic 1939 film, The Women, featuring an all-star lineup of actresses and models, including Hailey Bieber, Joan Smalls, Dita von Teese, Karen Elson and Shalom Harlow.

Titled “Jungle Red,” after a pivotal scene in the movie, the Moschino collection mixes styles that are somewhat practical, like nifty ’40s-style suits in a variety of colors, with over-the-top looks like a ball skirt featuring an image of a giant cow and a red gown with a heart cut-out revealing von Teese’s backside.

Milan’s Knitwear Obsession

Though the Milan collections ran the gamut, they all had one thread in common: Knitwear reigned, from the body-hugging catsuits at Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, and Salvatore Ferragamo to knitted patchwork dresses and crocheted pajamas at Marni.

Moschino at Milan Fashion Week
Moschino cow-print gown and barn purse. (Photo courtesy of Moschino)

Always known for exotic knitwear, Missoni featured a range of looks, from flowing kaftans to glittery full-length knit gowns. Max Mara offered a series of comfy sweater emblazoned with 1851,  the year that visionary entrepreneur Achille Maramotti founded the design house. Even revered designer Giorgio Armani got into the act, with a teal-and-blue fringe sweater for women and a colorblocked sweater in shades of blue,  gray, orange and white for men.

In these pandemic times, knitted outfits are comfortable and forgiving. They can be worn inside the house or out, so it’s not surprising that designers have decided that it’s the perfect fabric for our times.

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