06 March 2011

LIFE: Milan’s Fashion Week

SARONNO, Italy - Last week was Fall Fashion Week in Milan. Tina Turner got a front row seat at Giorgio Armani’s  show and I got poked in the back at least a hundred times by the bony elbows of the paper thin models that invade the subway every time Milan sponsors a fashion event. Doesn't seem fair somehow.

Giorgio Armani's new longer look
A few years ago the Italian fashion industry, along with the French and Americans, made a big fuss about hiring more normal looking models instead of the anorexic models they usually hire. It was a semi-fake attempt to fool the public into thinking they were concerned about the image the anorexic models were presenting to impressionable young girls. If you ask me, the real reason was there were too many girls passing out before the runway shows– and yes, even dying – because they had starved themselves to sticks.

It is a little better now, but not by much.  At any rate there is no use focusing on the dark side of the fashion industry when there are so many bright sides to talk about. To begin with there is no denying that Giorgio Armani is still the king of Fashion. He shows it time and time again and this season was no different. His clothes were gorgeous, with lots of swing and sway. We saw it in his longer winter coats and also in the new cut of his trousers, slightly flared and ending just above the ankle. All the better to show off the embroidered booties and soft suede sandals he featured. His evening wear was a dream of silks and satins that melted into the skin, with velvet gowns that shimmed like jewels and chiffons that floated down the runway like clouds. 

One designer who has been around for a while but isn’t exactly a household name yet is Francesco Scognamiglio. He’s the go-to guy for Lady Gaga, Madonna and Rihanna when they want something special for a red carpet appearance or a video. He’s dressed Lady Gaga almost a dozen times and Madonna just called him for something special to wear to an event she’s been invited to in the spring.

 The dark side of Francesco Scognamiglio (photo: Telegraph UK)
While he does do a lot of ‘stand-out’ clothes, Scognamilglio's regular clothes are pretty normal and very good looking. For Fall/Winter 2011/2012 he showed pale beige sculpted pantsuits with moto-cross or bomber-jackets edged with fox collars and rippled, pleat details at the back. His shift dresses were low cut showing a lot of skin, and some of his mini-dresses were trimmed with fox hems – how extravagant!  How chic!

Many of the designers, like Prada, are still playing with fabric and texture mixing python-skins, sequins and fur, fake and real. It doesn’t always work but Prada fans are Prada fans and it doesn’t seem to matter what off-the-wall look Minuccia Prada comes up with, they will buy it.

Jil Sander went in the other direction and used elements of ski-wear mixed with vintage silk prints for a sporty couture look. Her hip belts, sashes and low slung pockets all draw your eye to the hip, which is fine if you don’t have any.

 One of Prada's signature looks
So from what we saw here in Milan it looks like the hot ticket colors for next fall and winter are going to be teal, jade, terracotta, mustard, amber and bronze. Tweeds are bigger than ever, over-the-knee boots will still be with us, handbags, instead of looking like travel cases, will shrink to a more normal size and if you have to carry a lot of stuff you can do it in a colorful tote that doesn’t pass itself off as a handbag. 

It will be interesting to see what looks and colors actually make it to the stores. They are already showing a lot of teal for spring here ,but for the rest of it, it all depends on what the advance sales look like. I'm sure I'll recover from my last pass through Milan long before fall comes around, and when I do I’ll gather my courage, get back on the train and head for the shops to see what's what. You will be the first to know.

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