A postcard from Sicily in spring time was the pretty message from Dolce & Gabbana on the Milan catwalks, in a show on Sunday that was full of movie magic. A soundtrack from the great films of Fellini accompanied beautiful girls with Roman coins woven into their hair and dangling from their earlobes as they sauntered down the catwalk.
Their retro-style dresses and trapeze coats were covered in cherry blossom, polka dots and engraved prints of Sicilian ruins. Details such as the gilded Roman sandals, the Corinthian pillar-shaped block heels and medallion belts gave a wit and charm to the swishy 1950s dresses and trapeze-shaped tunics that are such an intrinsic element of the Dolce & Gabbana style.
Tomas Maier similarly feels in his comfort zone with a retro 1950s style silhouette. His vision for Bottega Veneta is always one of womanly elegance, no less so this season with his full gathered skirts and roomy short-sleeved shirts, in crinkle-textured cotton. There was some complicated pleat detailing that worked beautifully in the longer silhouettes and especially the bustle dinner jacket.
The last days of the spring collections at Milan Fashion Week swiftly divided into two distinct camps. There are designers, such as Donatella Versace and Peter Dundas at Emilio Pucci, who subscribe to a glamorous, sassy streetwear look – Dundas recently dressed Beyoncé’s tour – and designers whose clothes are a more realistic vision for summer. Marni, Bottega Veneta and Jil Sander all produced desirable, elegant clothes that needed no translation from catwalk to clothes rail.
Jil Sander, in her third season back at the label that bears her name, showed renewed confidence with a collection of effortless, elegant pieces such as cropped trousers, jackets that dipped at the front and had a roomy but softly sculpted shoulder line, and fresh white cotton pinafores and dresses, some decorated with white embroidery.
Consuela Castiglioni presented a subtle and beautifully handled collection of long, lean, softly sculpted shapes in gauzy textured fabrics for her Marni collection. The fact the soundtrack system failed, so the models walked in silence, somehow added to the serenity of her vision.
The Pucci and Versace woman, on the other hand, inhabits a loud and energetically paced world. Pucci girls love the dynamic mix of print, embroidery and short sassy clothes for their party lifestyles. The vibe is taken from the street with sportswear themes such as blousons, motocross leather trousers, racer back vests and boxing belts worked in with lavishly embroidered jackets that combine sport motifs and Masai tribal patterns.
Versace’s girls, meanwhile, are tough and full of attitude. Edgy-looking sparkly denim, punk style sheer blouses and bras followed by graffiti-print dresses suggested her fans are tough rock chicks. Her ideas were drawn from the street, but there was still an element of sexy showbiz dressing in the bandage and draped gowns that closed the show.
Fausto Puglisi’s debut catwalk show was full of attitude with rock-chick leather biker jackets teamed with big ball skirts and palm print dresses. Tough leather belts grounded the look, whether they featured with long dresses or mini crinies.
Puglisi, who also designs for Emanuel Ungaro in Paris, is a relative newcomer. Milan Fashion Week’s schedule is full of some of the biggest names in fashion, but unlike London and New York there has in recent years been a distinct lack of fresh blood. Realising they have missed opportunities, this season the Italians are starting to redress the problem by raising the profile of new designers like Puglisi and Stella Jean (who was given her show space by Giorgio Armani).
Jean, half-Italian and half-Haitian, showed a vibrant mix of Afro-Caribbean prints, stripes and gingham checks that looked bright and upbeat on the catwalk. It would be good to see more initiatives like this on the calendar next season.