Models present creations by Prada during the Milan Fashion Week in Milan, Italy February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo Image Credit: REUTERS

Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele says the blackface controversy has had a deep impact on the company and provided a learning experience for everyone.

Michele, speaking to reporters back stage after his show at Milan Fashion Week, said the lessons were not linked to creativity but to how the company operates. Gucci announced it would hire directors for diversity and take other measures after facing a backlash for a balaclava sweater that evoked blackface.

Michele said he took full responsibility for the misstep. He said after experiencing the “displeasure” of the controversy, “I hold on to the beauty of having learnt. I learnt a lot. This remains. It is not just a moment of emotion. I think it deeply affected the work of the company.” Meanwhile designer Giorgio Armani dedicated his new collection to the colour blue.

Here are some more highlights from shows:

GIORGIO ARMANI

Veteran designer Giorgio Armani dedicated his main winter line to the colour blue at Milan Fashion Week on Saturday, presenting his usual sleek, elegant and tailored looks in mainly darker tones, mixed only with black.

The 84-year-old designer, affectionately called “King Giorgio” in his native Italy, gave his audience a taste of what to expect ahead of the presentation of more than 100 women’s and menswear looks, with a blue-light setting at his Armani/Silos museum venue, the first time he hosted a runway show there.

For the ‘Rhapsody in Blue’ autumn-winter 2019 collection, women wore short jackets that had round collars, were lined with different shades of blue and worn over T-shirts or silky shirts.

There were also pencil coats and shiny blousons. Prints appeared on suits, sometimes almost dye-like, abstract or with knots.

Black trousers were slim or voluminous on the side — almost jodhpur-like — with buttons, and usually came above the ankle.

Other trousers were ribbed and knotted at the waist or smooth satin-like.

There were strapless tops, worn with trousers and a large fabric belt. Feminine florals adorned one-shouldered tops, while all black frilly shirts came out of low V-neck jackets.

“Deep and vibrant, the Armani shade par excellence pervades everything, defining a timeless, velvety elegance that is perfectly balanced,” show notes read.

Armani used plenty of velvet on jackets, coats, cloaks, hats, trousers and evening jumpsuits and dresses, which also glittered with sparkling embellishments or intricate beading.

Some had sheer fronts, shoulders or backs.

A selection of evening jackets were decorated with sparkling sequinned florals.

For men, midnight blue tailored suits dominated the catwalk.

Models wore double-breasted blazers, coats, parkas and anoraks on top of printed shirts and striped ties. There were also velvet pieces and dark knits.

Models also wore an array of sunglasses — from aviator style to sleek shades.

At the end of the show and to loud applause and cheers from the audience, Armani, himself dressed all in blue, walked out onto the catwalk, holding and then kissing the hand of one of his models.

___

GUCCI

Alessandro Michele’s latest collection for Gucci was shown under unrelenting, even blinding, strobe lights that the designer said in some way evoked the intensity of everyday life. A religious hymn played as the models walked deliberately, almost robotically.

Michele chose a mask as the metaphor for the collection, noting that “clothing is our mask, which both shows and hides.”

The show invitation was glued inside a paper-mache mask of Hermaphrodite, a homage to his exploration of genderless dressing. “The ancient world sang about the marvels of being between two sexes. Today it is one of the more difficult masks to wear, but being a hybrid is a blessing,” Michele said.

Still, the combined menswear and womenswear collection had a tougher, more masculine edge, shrinking ever so slightly from the designer’s gender-bending musings of past seasons. It was at its heart the exploration of the suit, with broad shoulders and unfinished edges and a stronger silhouette.

The looks also combined a sense of protection and also aggression with spiky accents on the looks and on belts worn cross body. An elaborate ruffle and lace collar peaked out of an overcoat, worn with baggy trousers. Boyish striped sweaters tucked into patterned jeans.

For women there were pretty silken shirts with pleated peplums over straight skirts. A grey jacket featured three concentric rounded collars, like shawls, worn with trouser pants.

Gold-cast ear covers gave a theatrical accent to the looks.

Michele worked at Fendi as a young designer under Karl Lagerfeld. A day after the design legend’s death, Michele recalled a man with the spirit of Peter Pan.

Michele said Lagerfeld called him “DJ” for his musical choices and insisted that the music be played at full blast.

“I loved him a lot. I am deeply sorry and not fully aware of the fact that he is no longer here. I have the impression that it is only news in the newspapers,” Michele said.

___

VERSACE

Versace married luxury with grunge at Milan Fashion Week on Friday, presenting an Autumn/Winter 2019 line featuring leather, faux furs and ripped jumpers, as well as plenty of the Italian luxury label’s signature safety pins.

Creative director Donatella Versace, sister of the fashion house’s late founder Gianni Versace, sent models including sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner down a catwalk with a giant safety pin sporting the label’s Medusa logo, where they were joined by 1990s models Shalom Harlow and Stephanie Seymour.

The line, which also featured Barocco-style V logos, nodded to the golden safety pins that adorned a black dress from Versace’s Spring/Summer 1994 line, made famous when actress Elizabeth Hurley wore it to the ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ premiere.

Safety pins were omnipresent on the runway — securing cut draped mini dresses, on jumpers and skirts and as earrings.

Several looks also paid tribute to “Versace’s storied relationship with fashion photography”, with tops printed with portraits of Donatella Versace by American photographer Richard Avedon, who shot campaigns for the brand.

There were plenty of vibrant colours on tops, tights, stockings, dresses and bags. Outfits were layered: ribbed tops under silk shirts, dresses and jackets, all in different shades.

“Bold women feel free to stay away from what is expected,” Versace said in a press release.

“With this collection, I wanted to show that side of a woman that isn’t afraid to step outside of her comfort zone because she knows that imperfection is the new perfection.” Knits, sometimes with silk straps on top, had ripped sleeves and hems, and were matched with a mock croc quilted leather two-piece or slit tweed skirts. Barocco prints appeared on sleeves of a trench.

Lace was used for neon coloured hems on silky slip dresses, usually in contrasting colours or on black trousers suits.

Evening gowns were luxurious — a sparkly orange number with Medusa medallions straps or black frocks with plenty of golden embellishments and belt buckle straps.

The brand, which was bought by Capri Holdings Ltd, formerly Michael Kors, last year, also presented herringbone coats and dresses and Vittoria print silks. Footwear was embellished with buckles.

___

CAVALLI

Italian fashion house Roberto Cavalli presented fluid versions of its usual animal print designs in Milan on Saturday, showing a colourful collection of soft knits, smooth silks, relaxed tailoring and plenty of flowing dresses.

In a large tent inside a central Milan park, Creative Director Paul Surridge sent out models in designs he said depicted “a modern ease” for the Autumn/Winter 2019 womenswear and menswear lines.

The brand, founded by Roberto Cavalli in the early 1970s, is known for use of animal prints and Surridge delivered “modernist tiger print”, a wavy version of the pattern, on tops, silk dresses and as shiny embroidery on other frocks.

Python patterns were seen on jacquard or sequinned outfits, namely in a mix of pale blue and black.

There were also frock coats, silk plisse pleated skirts, cut dresses, usually worn with thigh-high heeled boots or mules.

Women’s trouser suits had high waists and arrived above the ankle. The colour palette included purple, blue, orange and pink, namely on the wavy patterns, as well as porcelain and chartreuse.

Model Bella Hadid, who has walked some of the biggest shows during Milan Fashion week, strutted down the catwalk in a mustard ribbed dress with a pleated skirt, before changing into an all-black ensemble with cuts.

For men, tailored suits also came in pale blue, pinstripe and bougainvillea. There were also puffer and bomber jackets, as well as duffel coats that came in darker navy and black shades.

“(The collection) evokes memories of Cavalli — not direct references but reflections,” show notes read.

“Embracing, celebrating, evolving, it asserts the codes of the house: vibrant colour, a distinct print language, an artisanal touch. Alongside universal ideas of status, allure, beauty and confidence.” Surridge also presented plenty of shiny metallics, namely on evening tops and frocks — studded mini-dresses and tiered gowns — as well as slim-fitted trousers. Inspired by Art Deco, intricately embroidered evening dresses looked to 1920s fashion.

Milan Fashion Week, where the likes of Gucci, Prada, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and other luxury labels are presenting their latest lines, runs until Monday.

___

PRADA

Italian luxury label Prada added a touch of romance to Milan Fashion Week on Thursday with a winter collection looking at both sides of a love story.

Designer Miuccia Prada, considered a fashion trailblazer in the industry, looked at fear and fairy tale in romance, contrasting both in her looks, in her use of materials as well as in the music chosen for the runway show.

On a catwalk set amid a field of lights, models first walked out in all black outfits — a strapless dress or belted coat — before softer floral touches began.

Designs of large yellow, red roses as well as other colourful flowers decorated dresses, printed or attached with their green stems hanging off skirts and frocks like ribbons.

Some of the flowers were black on all black outfits.

Nods to military wear came in olive green jackets with furry collars, coats and pocketed skirt suits. Grey skirt suits had slit sleeves at the front and there were also herringbone-like dresses and coats.

As the Autumn/Winter 2019 show’s music alternated between heavy metal rock and softer instrumental, other romantic touches emerged such as lace veiling and thunderbolts on dresses, meant to reference a coup de foudre of two people meeting.

Colourful floral prints decorated an array of satin dresses or shiny skirts.

“The collection is a reaction to and reflection of humanity, of our strengths and fragilities,” show notes said.

“Romance can be an antidote to the harshness of our times.” The contrasting came in Prada’s mix of materials — from cloth and nylon to satin and lace, which came on dresses and as jackets. Some dresses mixed mohair fur on top and lace below, while others filled gowns.

Wearing their hair in long plaits, some models wore asymmetric black dresses with cartoon pictures of Frankenstein and his bride.

Footwear consisted of chunky high lace up boots as well as sparkly sandals. Colourful furry trims adorned backpacks and handbags, staples of the brand founded in 1913.

Prada, a Milan-based but Hong-Kong listed luxury group, is jointly run by the designer and her husband Patrizio Bertelli.

“The world of fashion needs to have a voice on many topics,” Prada told reporters, adding the line spoke of “the good and bad together.” “They are not contradictions, but an invitation for a union.

Good and bad, strong and weak are present in...everyone.”