Milan: Polished presentations, even as Milan empties dramatically
No city stages fashion and luxury presentations as succinctly as Milan, all the way through the past week, which ended with the city closing its doors dramatically on Sunday after the first deaths from the coronavirus in Italy.
Of course, the Italian fashion capital does host major league shows like Prada, Fendi, Versace and Armani but there are often twice as many presentations in any given day as there are runway shows. Many of them artfully staged and boasting great fashion. We caught up with a half-dozen fashion and luxury presentations, the last of which, Fila, happened on Sunday as this great Lombard city suddenly emptied.
One brand enjoying a quiet but very convincing build-up is Plan C, the fashion marque of Carolina Castiglioni.
For her fourth collection, Castiglioni staged a presentation inside a bizarre private garage, with a rotating circle to turn around cars, upon which stood a pair of models in elegant green crepe coats. Below them were carefully selected toys belonging to Carolina’s daughter Margherita. Spotlights projected the toys shadows magnified as a backdrop, like an Orson Welles work of film noir.
A half-dozen models posed in tableaux capturing the brainy and self-assured elegance; selfless cap jackets; billowing white cotton shirts; or boyfriend coats with large contrasting buttons.
“A sophisticated urban fashion arsenal,” smiled the ever-elegant Carolina, daughter of a fashion legend – Consuelo Castiglioni, the former designer of Marni.
Plan C already has its own store in Japan, and several pop-ups happening or planned in Isetan in Tokyo, Bon Marché in Paris and Harvey Nichols in London. While in Korea it has signed a partnership with Samsung. Plus, already after barely two years of existence it retails in 130 doors worldwide, a highly impressive result. Then again, fashion is clearly in Carolina’s genes.
We caught up with Castiglioni a day later at tony bag and luggage brand Valextra on Via Manzoni, the dorsal spine of central Milan. She was one of five creators – along with Sunnei, Massimo Alba, Arthur Arbesser and Double J - that each developed a couple of bags for Valextra, in a charming collab project.
Sunnei had the most impressive installation – a large high-tech crane that rose and fell revealing four variations on the Valextra Passepartout bag, done in their fetish mega stripes. While Massimo Alba staged his signature blend of retro rock records and art photography, along with a series of cool leather tags. Viennese-born Arbesser concentrated some very fine intarsia ideas, while Double J riffed on regional Italian silks. The brainchild of fashion editor JJ Martin, Double J even enjoyed a double-header season presenting a series of colorful looks, and some great totes, in a project with Acqua di Parma two evenings before.
While for Valextra, Carolina displayed its Iside Crossbody bag with a drawing by – guess who ? - her daughter Margherita.
The night before, we caught up with the debut presentation of Elena Durazzi at Trussardi. In effect her beginning and end, as Trussardi now plans to change designers every season. Which, considering how good Durazzi’s clothes looked seems something of a pity. Her posh padded boleros; elegant velvet trousers; and a perfectly judged classic mannish Harris tweed suit were all very elegant.
She also tapped into the brand’s leather resources with astute deerskin coat-dresses without sleeves and beige leather military shirts, worn by a cast that stood or sat on classic Trussardi furniture inside a neo-classical Milanese apartment. While a beautiful black model played spiritual music on a Yamaha piano, in a graceful fashion allocution.
This troubled house presented a new collection for fall that was actually very chic, for men and women. Offbeat tiger print shirts for guys; and chiffon red leopard-print cocktails for girls. And some great Chesterfield coats for men and women.
Though the standout look was a blend of four different animal prints. A great hacking jacket in python-print leather; anaconda-print leather pants; a leopard-print chiffon shirt and tiger-print scarf. Talk about a door-opening look!
For ladies, tuxedo shirts with cotton piqué breastplates made in tiger print and shown with tartan jackets were uber-Cavalli. All presented by a well-spoken Italian called Marco, after the PR scolded him for almost revealing his family name.
“Company policy is that no one in the creative team be named,” sniped the PR at the event, which was staged in the overly packed Mudec museum, and hence not the best example of how to display fashion.
A highly laudable effort from Aspesi to create an entire collection out of recycled material suffered from one flaw. The clothes didn’t look very good. An oddly sad color palette; dull, bulbous silhouettes and some very ditzy-looking stockmen, with electric green and sky-blue hair combining to deliver a flop of a presentation. Surprising to see in Milan really.
A mysterious ice curtain greeted visitors in a former train station, where Fila staged its latest display on Sunday afternoon, even as the city rapidly emptied. Sneakers series displayed inside large blocks of ice; models mysteriously passing by on a moving catwalk; and groups of skateboarders and après-skiers posing like trophies inside giant Arctic tableaux all made for a great piece of Italian fashion theatrics.
Designed by Antonino Ingrasciotta and Josef Graesel, and inspired by Alpine legends like Reinhold Messner and Ingemar Stenmark the clothes had lots of zest, color and attitude. From the yellow and blue ski jacket that referenced Stenmark’s World Cup winning outfit to Messner in his Fila overalls after conquering Everest, the first person to do so without oxygen.
With a DJ laying down some groovy tunes, it all underlined how Fila is suddenly uber hip again. As we said, ain’t nothing like a polished Milanese presentation for giving a brand a boost.
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