To get into valentinos show yesterday, held in the concrete-and-glass expanse of a former foundry on the northern edges of milan, guests were asked to sign a two-page waiver form, submit to a temperature check and swap the masks on their faces for a medical-grade version provided by the qatari-owned italian label.
Minus the mask exchange, such procedures were standard over milan fashion week, where reduced numbers of mostly european guests toggled between the dozens of online-only shows streamed on their smartphones and the handful of live, physical events that garnered most of the weeks headlines.
Despite the risks of hosting a show during a pandemic in paris, where fashion week begins today, restrictions are tightening daily there has been a significant attention pay-off for those who have soldiered ahead.
As a precautionary measure, valentino designer pierpaolo piccioli moved this seasons show from paris to milan, where he garlanded the concrete beams and pillars that lined the show space with green foliage and installed the emmy-winning british singer labrinth at its centre. live musical performances have been a rare sight this season, and a singer of labrinths calibre was a coup.
The first models passed through glass-panelled doors in simple garments minidresses in straight lines and solid colours, oxford shirts blown up in fluorescent pink and a middling violet, a black midi-dress with long fringed sleeves succeeded by searingly vibrant floral dresses and tactile separates in lace and crochet. fluid evening dresses were cut with trains that kicked up clouds of concrete dust in their wake. rockstuds and roses, two well-established (and well-performing) brand signatures, were worked into leather handbags and sandals.
It was romantic but also sensible of the new normal that has taken root during the pandemic. the kaftan dresses daubed in roses could be worn on holiday or for entertaining at home.
Designer paul andrew took a similarly rational approach to his spring/summer collection for ferragamo, the 1.4bn revenue brand known for its finely tooled leather shoes and gold horse-bit emblem.
Im hoping by the time this collection delivers in six to seven months well be in a better place, and men and women will want to dress up again, he said backstage. i also understand that people will want to feel comfortable and easy.
Andrew, who is british, spent much of lockdown rewatching hitchcock films. they informed the pure, fluid lines and technicolour palette of the polished collection he showed under the circular colonnade of the rotonda della besana on saturday evening, which was accompanied by a gorgeous short film by luca guadagnino, the academy award-nominated director of call me by your name and a documentary on salvatore ferragamo that premiered in venice early this month. though plotless, it had all of the beauty and suspense of a hitchcock thriller. clothes have rarely looked so good on screen.
Ferragamos business is shoes, and the standouts here were a reinterpretation of salvatores 1947 f-wedge, which was moulded into a stiletto heel, and a new gancini driving shoe for men. andrew has also been expanding ferragamos handbag range, this time rolling out a clutch-like shape inspired by hitchcocks marnie. while these were a significant improvement on past offerings, the clothes were still better.
Giorgio armani and donatella versace both staged catwalk shows sans audiences during fashion week. the former reminded us just how well he can cut a womens suit. versaces show, staged in a lost, underwater city called versacepolis, was big on colour, stripes and ruffles, as well as the handbags that have been the chief commercial focus of parent company capri holdings since acquiring the label for $2bn in late 2018. the house also cast plus-sized models for the first time.
Ports 1961 also had a classical bent, though karl templer, the influential stylist appointed creative director of the canadian-born, chinese-owned label last year, said it was unintentional. the collections pleated dresses and separates were easy and wearable, but lacking in the distinctive details that would make them memorable.
It has been good to see designers in italy a country where ecommerce penetration remains among the lowest in europe and luxury brands have been relatively slow to embrace social media and online shopping lean into digital video this fashion week, finding new ways to delight, surprise and connect at a time when most fashion editors and buyers are stuck at home.
Marnis francesco risso staged the weeks most ambitious digital video project. he sent his homey, patchwork spring/summer collection to friends and collaborators around the world, who wore his clothes in the rooms of their apartments and on the sidewalks of their cities and fed the results into a live-stream video grid. while the execution could have been better 77 minutes is a long time to watch people loaf about in clothes its themes of community and connectivity were heartwarming.
Moschinos show on saturday debuted not on a catwalk in milan but in a puppet theatre built by the jim henson creature shop in hollywood, where designer jeremy scott reimagined moschinos spring/summer collection and its audience in miniature.
Titled no strings attached, it featured models in the form of string puppets tottering down a makeshift catwalk in gold and powder-blue brocade skirt suits with hourglass jackets, evening dresses with their corset underpinnings turned inside-out, and new look cocktail dresses puffed up with tulle. on the sidelines, a puppet hamish bowles, the foppish european editor-at-large of american vogue, whispered to a puppet anna wintour. puppet critics scribbled in tiny notebooks.
It was whimsical, fun and perfectly on brand. fashion weeks could use more of it.