Milan Fashion Week: Giorgio Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Ermanno Scervino and Salvatore Ferragamo
In a busy Saturday in Milan, Giorgio went Zen master in his private palazzo, Dolce & Gabbana presented disco damsels, Ermanno Scervino refocused with force and Salvatore Ferragamo had a tricky delivery.
Zen master Giorgio Armani
It felt like the good old days on Saturday night with Giorgio Armani, who staged his show in the custom-built basement showroom of his personal palazzo, at Via Borgonuovo 21.
The scene of many of his triumphs in the 20th century, when he championed Italian fashion and imposed his haut de gamme tailored vision of la moda. This century nearly all his shows happen in the Tadao Ando-designed headquarters in south Milan.
Armani was in Zen master form, creating a score of fresh silhouettes, pairing delicate and dainty jackets and boleros with languidly cut pants – from dhotis and palazzo pants to gaucho shapes.
Natty nomadism with remarkable levity, half the fabrics seemed to float gently off the body. Presented before an endless oceanic vista and backed by a series of classic Italian ballads, including the delightfully named "Linked by a Grain of Sand" by Nico Fidenco.
This was also one of those tailoring master classes Giorgio pulls off every few years, the sheer draping, artful construction of shoulders and sense of proportion was something hundreds of lesser talents could only dream of achieving.
All made in dreamy hues of putty, light purple and lichen, with dashes of red. The ethereal atmosphere heightened by the knit or silver chiffon booties and faux serpent-skin flats that anchored most looks.
Maintaining a house tradition, there was the odd burst of applause mid-show for an especially stylish passage. Before a beaming Giorgio took his bow in front of the giant video of a sunset on the Med.
He will not go quietly into that good night.
Dolce & Gabbana: Disco damsels
Disco damsels and none of them in distress at Dolce & Gabbana, with a blockbuster show where the designers took their bow in a puff of virtual crystal, within a hologram.
It was a show that underlined just how revealing and body conscious Italian fashion has become this season. And how concerned about good health. Unlike in London last weekend, fresh masks were handed out at every major show, and ushers quietly went around reminding all guests to keep them on.
In an Italian season of micro-minis, the duo opened with microscopic versions worn with oversized rocker jackets. Few creators love strass as much as Domenico and Stefano, who whipped up crystal-studded and shiny beaded bras, bikinis, tanks and belts. Before going into overdrive with Byzantine quantities of bejeweled boleros, parkas and jean jackets, paired with mega-ripped sailor’s jeans – all worn proudly by every model.
And for after the afterparty, there were posh-dominatrix leotards, lace-up bustiers and multiple frilly lace combinations. A concept that climaxed with a brilliant visual pun: a leotard in piano keys with a big tuxedo lapel, one of several humorous twists in a rockin’ show. They even dreamed up a great new category of fatigue boots, with multiple little cargo pockets, made in aged denim or great camouflage.
These were very much gals on maneuver, though generally at the better sort of nightclub. Driven on by a churning soundtrack of Black Legend techno funk, this was Domenico and Stefano doing what they do best – high-octane baroque exuberance for the proud.
Ermanno Scervino cleans up his act
Venetian voluptuousness and Tuscan tenacity par excellence at Ermanno Scervino, with a tougher, more focused statement by the designer that made for a fine morning show.
A hyper-inclusive cast strutting their stuff over the marble floors and cobblestones of a colonnaded 17th-century palazzo, with guests like Carine Roitfeld, Edward Enninful and Anna Dello Russo sitting in upholstered front row armchairs. The ideal setting for the racy femme fatale look that is Scervino’s signature.
At times, Ermanno’s collections can get a little twee and saccharine. Not this season, where the sense of self-editing was much better.
Best of all, Scervino’s first-rate atelier was in excellent health – whipping up sexy leather cocktails interspersed with lace and creating a sensational layered white leather-lace mini cocktail. One great Jackie O white leather suit – with mini and caban – even featured a leather lace bra.
Few designers love a feather as much as Ermanno, who laced cock plumes into gilded lace columns, barely-there lace cocktails, cashmere sweaters and shantung mini dresses.
"Each garment is an eco-system to be discovered," explained Scervino.
And even when the concept got too much – as it did in his open-sided green Aran sweater sprouting feathers – you had to admire the designer’s chutzpah.
Add in some classy shearling bombers and workers' jackets finished with his gothic logo, and the high-gloss nylon parkas that are de rigueur in today’s Milan and the result was plucky and polished fashion pizzazz. And Ermanno’s best show in many seasons.
Salvatore Ferragamo: New design team, same problems
A new design team, but the same problems at Salvatore Ferragamo, where the new direction showed little to suggest that there is a clear road to recovery for this storied brand.
Digitally backward, and suffering from an unfocused design concept, the famed Florentine brand had gone into a tailspin during the pandemic, posting heavy losses.
With the net result that the family-controlled house hired a new CEO, Marco Gobbetti from Burberry, to turn things around. It looks like he has his work cut out for him.
The overwhelming feeling when looking at these clothes was of a designer trying hard to loosen up the mood at Ferragamo but not really succeeding. Struggling even, as the opening look was clearly mis-sewn at the back.
Oversized hyper-high-waist trousers paired with skimpy crepe blouses; falling-off-the-shoulders, nun-like silk frocks; governess bedtime nighties; and a bias-cut, slashed white poplin dress that looked like old, chopped-up family sheets.
For guys, flared pleated pants; Terylene-like fisherman’s tops; weirdly oversized stamped leather parkas; ribbed V-neck sweaters in burnt orange and washed-out turquoise. Like nice son-in-laws trying too hard to be cool.
Which sums up this collection, a weak attempt to suddenly make an uptight brand into something cool.
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