Milan designers are presenting fashion as essential. That no longer refers to must-haves, but to a distillation of ideas, discarding excess in collections and by example in wardrobes, to discourage waste.
Giorgio Armani’s collection presented on Saturday, the fourth day of Milan Fashion Week, was both earthy and ethereal, with myriad natural references the designer said were meant to create closeness with Mother Earth. Angela Missoni left each guest a solar lamp with a note, “Join us in holding hands with the sun, we are at a crucial point for our planet and we need to take action.”
The Italian brand Twinset put a sign in its window during fashion week: “Don’t Buy. Please Don’t Buy.”
The message reflects the fashion world’s recognition that rampant consumerism is bad for the planet, a reality that fashion houses still must balance with economic realities.
To drive home that message, Livia Firth’s Eco-Age consultancy has launched the #30Wears campaign to help focus sustainability-minded consumers on buying only apparel that gets repeated use — 30 wears as a minimum.
Highlights from womenswear previews for spring-summer 2020:
Giorgio Armani said he wanted to make an environmental statement with a collection titled Earth, exploring connections with nature.
The 85-year-old designer did so through colour, mixing earthy coffee brown with royal blue, black with shell pink and ice green. Sheer floating volumes and intricate artisanal hand-beading emphasised the connection with humanity.
The collection expresses “a desire for nature” and the need to safeguard the planet, Armani said before the show.
The looks incorporated natural references like banana leaf and orchid prints, dragonfly jewellery and butterfly beading on evening wear.
The collection had more of a couture feeling than ready-to-wear — something that perhaps Armani was signalling when he took his bow wearing a suit rather than his standard Milan runway sweater or T-shirt.
“Our job is to propose solutions, look at the past to review it, correct it if necessary, and emphasise it, as I have done,” he said.
Salvatore Ferragamo’s looks for next spring and summer have an essential, even monastic, quality, with soothing colours and clean silhouettes. Designer Paul Andrew might even call it an antidote to sports and streetwear that has swarmed runways in recent seasons.
The Ferragamo 2020 co-ed collection “is more about elevated workwear,” Andrew said backstage. “There is clearly a demand, a feeling, that people want to be comfortable and at ease, but I never want to engage with, like, hoodies with Ferragamo written on it.”
The looks had a casual feel, including knitwear tucked into short tennis skirts with a concealed athletic pocket, hooded anoraks reinterpreted as flowing dresses, high-waisted trousers cinched with a belt, knit and crocheted dresses that revealed just a little skin. Andrew said he was trying to recreate the memory of a 1980s southern Italy holiday, captured in a family photo of him and his brother wearing floral Bermuda shorts.
Andrew also revamped the 40-year-old Ferragamo Vara heel, renaming it Viva and giving it a slightly bigger bow in matching material and a sculpted heel in a teardrop shape inspired by architect Richard Serra. The new shoe was worn at times with leather socks.
“After three years working with Ferragamo, this is the first time I need to engage and embrace this house icon and make it feel modern and relevant for a new generation of consumers,” he said.
The collection won kudos from front-row guests, including actors Tommy Dorfman, Camila Mendes, Hari Nef and Dylan Sprouse.
“You do luxury. Not everyone can say that,” Nef, a former model, told Andrew backstage.
Angela Missoni showed her new menswear and womenswear collection poolside, at the outdoor swimming pool called “Bagni Mysteriosi,” or “Mysterious Baths.”
The companion his and her looks pegged him as a dandy in a neat knit suit or plaid 1940s trouser matched with a striped bowling shirt and hip Dad sweater, and her as a free-spirited hippy, with long flowing sweaters, sheer beach cover-ups and floral suits with a scarf knotted loosely on the neck.
Models carried baskets covered with Missoni knitting and filled with plants, as if coming from a farmer’s market. And during the finale, the each carried their own solar lamp to light up the runway.