From sequins and scarf prints to ponchos and posh sportswear, we round up the key trends from the event
Milan Fashion Week: the latest trends spotted on the catwalk
The presentation of the 2018 autumn/winter collections during Milan Fashion Week coincided with the opening of an exhibition that charts the birth and rise of Italian ready-to-wear since 1971, when Walter Albini chose Milan to stage his debut fashion show. Prior to that year, high fashion, or alta moda, was shown in Rome. Italiana: Italy Through the Lens of Fashion 1971-2001, which is on until May 6, highlights the watershed moment that put Milan on the fashion map.
The exhibition features designers past, and those still present, such as Giorgio Armani, Alberta Ferretti, Dolce and Gabbana. Of course, Milan Fashion Week is still a thriving multibillion-dollar force to be reckoned with, and so the 2001 in the exhibition’s title is emblematic of the new millennium and geopolitical changes, especially after the 9/11 attacks.
Fashion has since transformed in the way that it is perceived, presented and sold. The digital revolution has had an enormous impact on the way that we digest not just Italian fashion, but all fashion. Designers are constantly searching for more stimulating ways to create and present their collections.
Who would have imagined in 1971 that a brand would use drones to carry handbags down a catwalk? Dolce & Gabbana executed this impressive feat at the end of fashion week. Will we all eventually use personal drones to carry our pretty arm candy? That may be a little way off, yet, but here are the key trends we can expect to see for autumn/winter 2018.
Sportswear has evolved into luxury leisurewear this season – barring a few racing bibs and Olympic sports references at Stella Jean’s show and Formula One race-grid references at Tommy Hilfiger. Sportswear exudes a very sophisticated profile at Tod’s (photo above), Giorgio Armani and Brunello Cucinelli, where collections target the international traveller. To emphasise this laid-back mood, Gigi Hadid carried a puppy (one of five in the show) down the Tod’s runway whilst wearing a horse-print shearling blouson and crepe-sole shearling boots. There were soft yellow leather and suede trench coats, skirts and blouses, along with white leather trousers. The folk theme at Cucinelli translated as handknits sprinkled with metallic sequins and unstructured silhouettes – layered knits and bomber jackets over shirts – and roll-neck sweaters in luxurious materials.
A popular look among Asian millennials is a bright and sporty padded jacket and, given the cold in Milan, the idea of snuggling up in a puffer has become very appealing. Prada’s neon puffer jackets, gilets and boxy tops will be quickly snapped up, as will its padded scarves and bags. They were sporty, but also redolent of safety clothing. Similarly sporty but safety-conscious were Sportmax’s bright quilted puffer gilets, worn like life-preservers over blousons. Models were swaddled in white cocooning coats over ribbed knits at Jil Sander, or shimmered in rainbow-quilted jackets at Marco de Vincenzo. Even the psychedelic scarves at Emilio Pucci were padded with goose down.
Scarves and foulard prints
When Richard Quinn heard at the last minute that Queen Elizabeth II would be attending his show during London Fashion Week, he rushed to add a few queen-inspired touches to his collection, in the shape of headscarves and scarf patterns. He was already planning some for the show, but decided to push the look further, turning them into face coverings. In Milan, the trend for scarf prints really took off, with models at Versace wearing tightly wound headscarves with sunglasses – Jackie Onassis style. There were Russian babushka headscarves and foulard print dresses at Gucci. Pucci revamped some of its famous psychedelic foulard prints, while the new creative director at Salvatore Ferragamo, Paul Andrew, pulled some 1930s foulard prints out of the archives for long silk dresses. Clearly, it is time to fish those vintage Hermès scarves out of the wardrobe.
Capes and ponchos
Capes and ponchos are having a revival in the fashion capitals. In Milan they came in many guises. Missoni and Etro evoked a 1970s boho mood with capes and blankets layered over fuzzy, patterned knits or a multiplicity of ethnic prints. Karl Lagerfeld’s capes at Fendi were tailored in masculine checks and geometric patterns, or were so teensy and boxy they resembled dry-cleaning shoulder protectors. The nubuck country-style ponchos worn over velvet dresses at Ferragamo, meanwhile, were way too luxurious for a walk in the woods.
Twinkle and shine
The Italians love a bit of glitz, and there were enough sequins, black PVC and twinkly prints to keep partygoers happy next season. Miuccia Prada’s collection would be perfect, inspired as it was by the neon lights of Milan’s skyline – seen through the plate-glass windows of the Fondazione Prada venue. Black tulle layered over neon cocktail dresses with sequins and shiny neon plastic fringed dresses were sent down the runway. Giorgio Armani had plenty of sparkle in his main-line collection, along with shiny skirts, fuzzy lurex knits and mirrored cowboy boots for his Emporio line. Of course, Dolce and Gabbana had their say on the subject with black sequins and printed lamé cocktail dresses featuring angelic motifs. However, despite the lavishly gilded Vatican-inspired embroidered pieces, this collection was not as blingy as previous seasons.
Three to watch
Milan Fashion Week has rediscovered its mojo and a few new niche brands are adding extra excitement to the city’s fashion scene. Their offerings are disparate and focus on one key thing, which they do well. Attico, founded by street-style stars Gilda Ambrosio and Giorgia Tordini, is the go-to label for sparkly partywear. Three friends launched Blazé Milano, an elegant blazer collection based on styles from the 1980s and 1990s. This season they have collaborated with model Arizona Muse to create a capsule collection using sustainable, non-toxic materials. Finally, there’s For Restless Sleepers, which specialises in retro-printed silk pyjamas that can be worn for day and night. The label was founded by Francesca Ruffini, wife of Moncler owner Remo Ruffini.