Milan Fashion Week drew to a close yesterday with no hint of change on the horizon. Unlike the loud declarations of a new business model from some labels that show in New York and London, Milan’s designers seem happy with the two-seasons-plus-pre-collections model and a calendar that shows collections six month in advance of them dropping in-store.
Does that make Milan out of step with the times? Not really. But it could mean that the fashion cities (and the labels that compete for business on store racks) draw farther apart in the way they think it’s best to reach us, the consumers.
In fact, the head of MFW’s organiser, Carlo Capasa, suggested that the trend towards dropping goods in-store when they’re more in line with the weather than at present would mean a slowdown, not a speeding up, of the fashion calendar. While Burberry showed AW16 product in February but made some of it instantly available to suit the current cold weather, Capasa thinks designers should deliver the product in, say, November when it gets chilly rather than in sunny August or September as is usual now. “People want to buy in-season,” he said.
Paris seems unlikely to change either because Paris hates the new world of social media and insta-fashion. In fact, a few years ago when I had to visit the Chambre Syndicale offices I remember the people at the top of French fashion’s organisational tree telling me how they didn’t think designers should even allow more than a few photos of their advance collections to be seen by the public until the clothes are delivered to the stores.
But the fact that Milan and Paris don’t embrace new business models in quite the same way as as NYC and London doesn’t seem to be holding them back. They’re arguably the most influential of the four fashion weeks and the last week of Milan shows has proved how creativity can go hand-in-hand with tradition.
There were some big and hugely lucrative names showing yesterday. Armani, for a start. His style isn’t quite to my taste but it sells, and sells. His turnover is around one-and-a-half billion euros a year and Armani himself is a multi-billionaire. You don’t get there without giving the public what it wants and yesterday he was betting we’ll want black velvet (and lots of it) for AW16.
Personally, I preferred Missoni. Again, this is a label I don’t usually love but the AW16 collection was a dream. Knitwear and boho styling are both having something of a moment at present and that feeds into Missoni’s sweet spot.
Yesterday we got chunky multicolour oversized sweaters and cardigans; woven outerwear that actually looked like it had been knitted as it aped the patterns from the sweaters; some fine gauge semi-sheer evening pant combos and maxis in metallic; plus delicious chunky beanie hats and trailing scarves-with-everything.
One of my favourite labels showed yesterday too, one that’s almost a guilty secret (I don’t know why, but if you admit you like DSquared2 you do get some strange looks from fashion insiders!)
This collection was all about warriors from various eras and cultures so there was an obvious overlay of Samurai style and plenty of camo prints. But as most of us don’t dress like we’re going to a costumer party, I always ignore collection themes and focus on the clothes.
We got some jodhpur-shaped, just-below-knee-length pants in military tones and camo prints, alongside some girly blouses, some great sandals with Samurai armour-style ties, plus formal handbags with military webbing trims, gilt military buttons, Samurai armour outerwear and much more. There’s not many labels that would combine a khaki army sweater with camo sheer leggings, a sheer black skirt and tassel earrings, or a samurai jacket with hussar-style trousers. But DSquared2 did it.
It was fun, it was creative but there was also lots in there that was very wearable. The fact that I can’t buy it instantly? Maybe it’s not such a problem – after all, I usually have to wait a couple of years before my designer label favourites turn up on eBay or resale websites anyway!