Milan designers are keeping it clean for next season.
Many collections have a girl-next-door gleam, with an underpinning of sexy. The silhouettes are fresh and there is simplicity to the compositions.
Maybe it’s because many designers are taking hints from the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s in their designs. And no, that doesn’t mean retro. Materials and execution keep the collections modern.
Highlights from the fourth day of womenswear previews for next spring and summer Saturday at Milan Fashion Week include Bottega Veneta, Ermanno Scervino, Jil Sander and Antonio Marras.
Wearing a big smile and carrying the actual woven red clutch she used in American Gigolo, Lauren Hutton surprised the fashion crowd when she joined models in the runway show marking Bottega Veneto’s 50th anniversary.
The crowd burst into applause as the actress worked her way down the vaulted corridor of the Accademia di Brera dressed in a classic silk Bottega Veneto trench coat.
Creative director Tomas Maier said the brand has been working through its archives during the 15 years he has been at Bottega Veneta and found Hutton’s bag from the 1980 film among the treasures.
“I thought it would be nice for her to carry the bag from the film one more time,” Maier said after the show. “We love Lauren Hutton for many more reasons than that.”
Eva Herzigova and Gigi Hadid also walked in the show for Maier. Guests in attendance included Andie MacDowell, Marisa Tomei and Liz Goldwyn.
With so many brands changing creative directors recently, Maier said his relative longevity was a mutual choice.
“It is like a marriage. If you want to make it work, it works,” he said.
The Bottega Veneta brand avoids flash, and its appeal is in details that are most apparent to the individual wearing a garment. Maier says that is by design.
“It’s a personal experience. When you wear a coat, you discover how light it is. When you wear a sweater, you discover it has no seams,” Maier said. “It has always been about the experience. Feeling the materials, getting the sensibility.”
To mark the brand’s 50th anniversary, Maier showed the men’s and women’s collections together — with the “more sturdy” menswear and “more colourful” womenswear each playing off each other. The looks were clean-cut, projecting timeless wholesomeness.
The soft female silhouette emphasised curves, with belted waistlines and low-cut V-necks, and the models themselves were more voluptuous than on many runways. Sheer knitwear added to the sex appeal.
The men’s looks were loose and boxy, with high-waist trousers that gather generously above the belt paired with simple polo shirts.
Bright yellow, pink and copper nappa leather coats had a sheen that appeared nearly plastic. Evening dresses wrapped and plunged along the figure, trailing magnificently along the stone corridors.
The garments, which emphasise the brand’s artisanal heritage, are made to last, Maier said.
“When you spend a lot of money, that shouldn’t be disposable. It can be passed on,” he said.
In his evening wear for next season, Ermanno Scervino has created delicate confections of otherworldly beauty.
The Florentine designer masterfully pleats and smocks silk organza to give it a form all its own, keeping the dresses so light they had the appearance of floating. Shapes varied from halter dresses with full skirts and Victorian ruffles at the neck to asymmetrical Roman-style wraps.
The colours were as delicate as the looks: pastel pink, creamy yellow and sea-foam green.
Scervino’s collection for next spring and summer also took turns that were more edgy. A skin-tight pink jumpsuit had a futuristic flare. A series of body-hugging skirts and dresses in ivory that featured pearl buttons along deep-cut V-necks evoked sex appeal.
A sequence of blue-and-white striped looks, from minidresses to high-waist trousers with tucked-in blouses, had vertical and horizontal bands providing an optical effect that injected freshness.
Scervino described the collection as “harmonious” and “sexy.”
Rodolfo Paglialungo played with proportions for the Jil Sander label, with big shoulders emerging as the emblem of the season.
The designer said that while the 1940s silhouette was his starting point, he “absolutely did not want something retro.”
What emerged were what he called “strange proportions,” — the oversized shoulders that defined the looks flowing into a slim, fitted skirt, loose shorts or trousers.
The classic Jil Sander suit came in pinstripes and was paired with an oxford shirt with an outsize tail that hung past the jacket hem.
Among the most startling looks were a series of pleated dresses, origami-like in their precision, with the rounded shoulders creating a semicircular effect over a straight skirt.
The colour palette was classic cream, black and grey with accents of salmon and pumpkin.
A 1950s exuberance permeated Antonio Marras’ looks for next season. The designer presented clothes meant to move in. To emphasise the point, Marras put dancers doing the twist in the centre of the runway for the finale.
The collection was inspired by Malick Sidibe’s photographs from Mali in the 1950s and 1960s that captured men and women going out dancing dressed in Western styles.
“Music and clothes were coming from the West of the world, and what I liked, as always, is the mixture,” the designer said backstage.
In keeping with the inspiration, skirts were voluminous and flared, with gathering and pleats, or kept loose and flowing, as in sarongs, tunics and kaftans.
The colours were more subdued than the usual fashion references to Africa, featuring beige, ecru and sand tones with hints of colour and floral accents that the designer said were more English than African.
Many of the looks included remnants of the production process, including embroidery, beaded flowers, fringe and ribbons.
Like Bottega Veneta, Marras showed menswear alongside womenswear, using the same fabrics and colours “to show what is similar between the two,” he said.