New talents make their voices heard in Milan
While Gucci dominated the spotlight on the first day of Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday, sharing it with other MFW regulars like Alberta Ferretti, N°21, Jil Sander and Moncler, the next generation of Italian talent was also revealing its creative potential with stellar shows from Calcaterra, Arthur Arbesser and Chinese designer Anna Yang of Annakiki.
Calcaterra set the pace with an inspired show for Fall/Winter 2019-20, where both men's and womenswear silhouettes were simultaneously fluid and robust. "Voluptuous calm" are the two words that could best sum up the collection.
The kimono coats and large woollen capes were paired tone on tone with voluminous draped tops or tight jumpers worn over cascading trousers. These elegant and comfortable looks, which featured a palette ranging from white to earthy tones of chocolate, bronze, green and grey, had something extremely reassuring about them.
"For me, beauty is to be found in the everyday and in well-being. A woman can be chic with a simple white t-shirt and blazer. Indeed, this season I played with the men's jacket, which I transformed into dresses, coats and accessories," explained Daniele Calcaterra backstage.
Inspired by American aviator Amelia Earhart, famous for being the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932, the designer took his audience on a long-haul flight between earth – where the show's heroines of aviation come down to land in their bomber hats, sophisticated overalls in satin suede or tweed and parachute dresses – and sky, seen in the airy volume of multi-layered dresses and the practically intangible fabrics of long tunics.
Arthur Arbesser was also looking to celebrate the beauty of the everyday. For his show, held at the foot of an enormous indoor climbing wall, the designer invited some of his own friends to take to the runway – "friends who wear my designs in their everyday lives", he explained. The collection's aesthetic oscillated between Milanese bourgeoisie and Eastern European artist, between geometrical rigour and rainbow-coloured fantasy, featuring an explosion of saturated shades of turquoise, lilac, brown, red and gold.
The girls wore patent thigh-high boots in vibrant colours, while intricate metallic sculptures dangled from their ears, the work of jewellery designer Nathalie Jean. Chic – and sometimes austere – outfits with long pleated skirts and classic blouses, alternated with bolder looks, where the multicoloured checks of a silk tunic clashed with the black and white diamond pattern of a pullover, and a fluorescent mandarin dress peeked out unexpectedly from beneath a black coat.
In order to come up with this collection, the designer decided to shift his focus back onto his own brand universe, channelling both his identity as a Viennese designer in Milan by going back to his first collections, and the intimacy of his Sant'Ambrogio atelier in the historical centre of the Lombard capital, where he creates his clothes with three assistants.
The old wooden abacus he keeps on his desk could therefore be seen in a micro-pattern printed onto a silk blouse, while an Austrian loden was transformed into an asymmetrical skirt and the red pomegranates that featured in a previous collection made a return on a dress.
It was yet another different kind of beauty that Annakiki was hoping to celebrate with a collection that aimed to be an anthem to imperfection. "You are beautiful" asserted the white letters printed onto black sweaters with double collars by Chinese designer Anna Yang, who splits her time between Shenzhen and Milan, where she has just opened a studio employing a dozen people.
"The Annakiki girl is certainly not the prettiest girl in the class, but she has a real personality. When you meet her, you want to know who she is. Her imperfections mould her style, which is strong and authentic," the designer explained backstage.
The collection's volumes were oversized, the colours explosive, the fabrics ultra shiny and translucent. Looks gaily mixed animal prints in curvaceous leopard dresses, zebra-striped coats and bodysuits, and python-effect thigh-high boots and miniskirts. Sleeves ballooned on mini evening dresses and white blouses, while shoulders on coats were puffed up and the sleeves of a chequered mohair suit were deformed into strange circular shapes.
Elsewhere, seams rose up in relief like growths on a big pink coat and a red jacket, while a multitude of velvet cocoons stood on end on another coat to create a coral effect. All in all, it was an eclectic wardrobe more than capable of pleasing the masses.
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