Versace and Giorgio Armani Pile on the Charm at Milan Fashion Week 

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Behind every fashion collection, there is often an unexpected backstory. What inspires a designer, for example, to create baby doll dresses in military cottons, to add corsetry details to these looks, and emphasize a silhouette that is short and sweet and in sharp contrast to the gladiator sandals on his models’ feet?

Sometimes, it’s worth running backstage after a show to ask.

Friday morning, at the Diesel Black Gold show by designer Andreas Melbostad, I learned an interesting answer:

“I wanted to explore a little bit of what femininity means to Diesel Black Gold, because our core is denim and leather and I wanted to expand our vocabulary,” Mebostad said. “So I started looking at David Hamilton images,” he said, referring to the British artist and photographer noted for his controversial images of young girls, often depicted nude. “And then you start to imagine this girl going to an army surplus store and somehow ended up with a Bjork reference from the 1990s. It’s sort of an adventure like that.”

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The thinking at Giorgio Armani was more straightforward and all about charm, both in the pleasurable sense and that of magical spells. Armani designed more beautifully tailored suits, with options both short and long, in a hypnotizing watery blue that reflected the depths of the ocean. Some pieces were embroidered with glittering gems, like lucky talismans, and one came draped with a dazzling blue netting overlay. In short, the show lived up to its name: Charmani.

And if you have been following the recent collections of Donatella Versace, you will be pleased to know the background at her house continues to be a message of strong female empowerment led by an army of supermodels in fabulous clothes that encompass offerings for day time (parachute dresses in green, navy, and plum silk that fluttered down the runway) and more sexy rhinestone dresses of the classic Versace variety for nighttime, or daytime, or whenever you choose to wear them. The finale look combined both stories, a silk parachute coat with diamanté sleeves. Because that is Donatella’s message: Fashion empowerment, whether you’re of the generation of Gigi and Bella Hadid or that of Naomi Campbell and Carmen Kass, you’re going to find yourself reflected in Versace’s mirror. 

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Marco de Vincenzo took his story from a 1950s postcard of a Riviera beachside scene, and all the usual characters showed up: the lurex tinsel, the signature glittering fringe, the sunny rainbow of optimism. One new technique this season was a flock of birds embroidered on top of the fringe, representing a whole new chapter. He also showed oversize lurex T-shirts and pajama pants for men, but maybe that’s a reason to turn the page.

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