Prada draws on the 1920s and 1960s at Milan Fashion Week.
The latest looks from Prada and Marni
Two of the most consistently interesting and innovative fashion designers in Milan are Miuccia Prada and Marni's Consuelo Castiglioni. Neither subscribes to the glamorous dolce vita style of dressing that is frequently presented on the Italian catwalks. However their clothes, particularly Prada's, are often alluring despite their sometimes stubborn oddness.
Prada's summer collection, last September, ignited the catwalk with vibrant colours and wacky banana prints; for autumn she wanted to explore whether she could take high-octane materials such as python and sequins and make them appear more innocent. For daytime silhouettes, she picked out graphic, colour-blocked 1920s-style chemises that looked like schoolgirl gymslips, and loose 1960s-style coats with contrasting drop-waist belts and big buttons. Coats featured python, while the dresses were dripping with shimmery fish-scale paillettes, a much fresher and prettier approach to sequins than the usual sparkling body-conscious looks one sees on the catwalk.
So far, so good with Prada's ingénue theme. However, the quirky accessories - pale suede and lurex boots that resembled Mary Jane shoes worn with socks, and shaggy bonnets that looked like bathing caps - would challenge even her most loyal followers.
In many respects, Prada was treading on Marni territory, as Consuelo Castiglioni's collections frequently have an innocent, girlish spirit. This season, however, Marni is rather more grown-up. Like Prada, Castiglioni loves playing with odd 1960s prints and her geometrics, some of which echoed the pattern of the carpet on the catwalk, came in black and cream or tones of green. They looked terrific on short coats layered over tunics and modest over-the-knee skirts. The silhouette, as always at Marni, was loosened off and there were some sturdy leather jackets over gilets. However, Castiglioni injected a dose of sophisticated glamour into her perfectly pitched collection by adding a series of geometric-patterned lurex dresses, a few jewelled necklines and some beautiful passementerie beading.
The experimental mood also spread to Bottega Veneta where Tomas Maier, another designer who always manages to find intriguing angles, wanted to push technique and craftsmanship to the extreme for the collection. BV's diamond fine jewellery collection is expanding into coloured stones and this inspired Maier's autumn collection. Vivid colours from pale yellow to ruby, topaz, fire opal and peridot green appeared in a range of fuzzy wools, silk, tulle and lace carefully overlaid, over-printed and embroidered to create extraordinary optical effects and textures. Choosing as his canvas clean, uncomplicated coats and dresses, Maier delivered one of the most desirable collections in Milan.