The Milan designers' vision for next summer is as sharp and clear as it is bright and boldly modernist. Prada's show might fortuitously have been scheduled early in Milan Fashion Week, but Miuccia is not alone in presenting a message that is both vivid and precise. Raf Simons at Jil Sander, MaxMara and Tomas Maier at Bottega Veneta have all chosen a modern minimalist look, but each handled it slightly differently: Jil Sander and MaxMara used eye-popping bright hues, while Bottega Veneta's palette was cool and neutral.
Raf Simons is no shrinking violet when it comes to colour: bold, saturated hues are a recurring theme in his collections and are used to dissect his tailoring in the way others might employ embroidery to decorate their clothes. However, the skinny T-shirts and oversized long couture skirts - the fabric rising up and away from the body before descending to the floor, to give ease and volume - looked fresh and clean, and created a new fashion silhouette for summer.
A plain black or white T-shirt emphasised the pure lines of those skirts and of supersized pleated trousers that appeared in shocking pink, DayGlo orange, yellow and toxic green. Sometimes Simons layered colours: a windbreaker green jacket over yellow trousers and a shocking pink top, or a purple jacket over pink and orange. His sporty references to parkas and blousons slipped over long tent dresses echoed a theme for athletic chic that also appeared at Bottega Veneta and MaxMara. The spirit of Helmut Lang, the designer-turned-artist, infused these collections, his sporty athleticism updated with a slightly undone, carefree quality - a mood that the designers at both labels seemed to reference.
Maier at Bottega Veneta chose casual, roomy shapes made in light, airy materials with perforations, sporty meshes and shimmering metallic titanium patches. There were long, parachute-silk sack frocks and laser-holed Aertex-style dresses. Jackets had deconstructed seams and were worn over shorts, while in their hands models nonchalantly swung large, fringed canvas bags or neat little knot clutches.
MaxMara's signature trench coats, cabans and tailoring were as streamlined as a Montana trouser suit from the early 1980s, minus the shoulderpads: clean, elegant and pure modernist lines. Boxy white jackets worn over a yellow mini skirt or trousers, a graphically cut trench coat, a lemon silk A-line shift cut with compass precision and a particularly juicy orange trouser suit were a jolt of the new from a house known for its subtle neutral colour palette. In Milan, the future is bright.
* Francesca Fearon