Mass shows for discreet garments: Milan fashion week rummages through the wardrobe of the post-covid era
To celebrate its tenth anniversary, in 1984 Thierry Mugler held the first parade open to the public in history. A total of 3,000 attendees, 1,000 invited by the brand and 2,000 who accessed the Show paying an entry of 100 francs of the time. It was the first time that a catwalk, a territory of elitism that defines luxury, became a public event similar to a rock concert. Fashion began to prioritize the show over exclusivity. In these almost 40 years, this industry, through social networks, has become another guarantor of entertainment, almost like music and cinema.
But for a couple of seasons, live broadcasts have not been enough, more and more brands are opening their stands to those who want to buy a ticket. Pyer Moss did it in 2021, when she debuted at the Paris haute couture fashion week or Marine Serre last June, within the men’s fashion week in the French capital. Balmain has been holding a music festival open to the public for three seasons in which his parade is included as part of the programming. And this Wednesday Glenn Martens, creative director of Diesel, opened Milan fashion week at the Allianz Cloud, the Italian city’s sports palace, with 500 house guests, 1,500 accredited students and 3,000 young people (between 17 and 22 years old, according to data provided by the brand) who bought a ticket and crowded into the stands to see the Belgian’s second parade, decorated in a grand way, with, they say, the largest inflatable sculpture in the world.
It is curious, and surprising, to see how Martens is capable of moving from the most niche and conceptual fashion (he is also the creative director of the cult firm Y Project) to the most popular and massive, without contaminating his styles. In the barely year and a half that he has been in charge of Diesel, he has been able to turn a banner that belonged to the recent past into one of those viral signatures that populate TikTok and Instagram profiles. He has done it precisely by appealing to that recent past. In other words, to that aesthetic of the first two thousand that now pervades everything: in his extensive collection there are, of course, denim treated as tailoring, but also work clothes reformulated in noble colors and fabrics, tracksuits reconverted into long dresses with several layers and neon pieces next to faded and frayed fabrics.
If Martens and Diesel pull democratic showmanship to try to maintain their newfound relevance, Kim Jones is adept at just the opposite, that is, at making the democratic exclusive in his myriad collaborations with popular brands. Since his entry into Fendi in 2020, the British designer has crafted something close to the luxury staple in a house historically linked to opulence. In his collection for next spring, gray and beige they were mixed with orange or fluorescent green in garments with a markedly 90s (minimalist) silhouette. There were structured tailored jackets whose backs closed like a Japanese kimono, chiffon sheath dresses and straight skirts that Jones, always with a good nose for business, combined with sandals whose platform was stamped with the double F logo that Karl Lagerfeld designed in the year 2000.
In contrast, the young Andreadamo, with only two shows behind him, is a faithful (and good) follower of the basic for the new generations: black, white and earth-toned garments that are built from an obvious deconstruction or, what which is the same, knitted dresses full of openings, laces and asymmetries that, despite populating the current collections (above all, those signed by new names) have a novel, elaborate and commercial result.
Max Mara is essentially the great Italian luxury basics brand. But its creative director, the British Ian Griffiths, always designs them based on the aesthetics and history of a pioneering woman (in fact, portraits of Siouxsie, Patti Smith or Zelda Fitzgerald hang in his office). This time, Griffiths has reimagined the eclectic and very peculiar style of two women whom posterity has considered muses, although they would deserve the name of great authors. The artist Renée Perle, partner of the photographer and painter Jacques Henri Lartigue, who defied the conventions of the thirties with her uniform of wide-legged men’s pants with swimsuits and hats; and the architect and designer Eileen Gray, one of the first well-known industrial designers “who, in the face of the rectitude of the male architects, introduced the curved line and, in a way, the emotion in the craft”, says Griffiths. The connection between the two is the French Riviera, a place they frequented and which works as a spring excuse for a brand specialized in coats.
And basics, this time almost as a theoretical object, was the Prada collection. Under the title A touch of rawness Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons have worked on the zero degree of clothing in their own way: “Simple clothing, without unnecessary complications, is what moves us theoretically, aesthetically and politically,” says Miuccia Prada, who has spent half a century demonstrating precisely that these three visions are closer together than it seems. Director of Drive, Nicholas Winding Refn, designed paper rooms with windows to an imaginary street for the occasion. A way of combining the domestic, the intimate space, with a collection that sought to delve into the basics in the complex manner of Prada. Trapezoidal coats with a fabric also made of paper (which the models closed with their hands, in the iconic Miuccia way). Forties-style square-necked jackets that, instead of cinched at the waist, followed a rectilinear pattern. monkeys of nylon that evoked the work uniform (one of Prada’s obsessions since the arrival of Raf Simons). And upper parts crowned by long pieces of cloth as a tail, as they did with the skirts two seasons ago. Because if something has changed in Raf Simons’ Prada, it is the continuity between collections. Before the entry of the Belgian designer, Miuccia used iconoclasm to create collections that were visually eclectic and complex but recognizable precisely in their difference. Now, the triangular logo, the nylon monochrome and structured forms have built a recognizable identity that is repeated season after season.
Giorgio Armani came out to say hello, this time without Silvana Armani and Leo dell Orco (responsible for the women’s and men’s lines, respectively), surrounded by the long standing ovation of the hundreds of people invited to the Armani theater to witness the Emporio collection, which a once again redounded to the wide pants, the shoes-socks and the baggy jackets, this time in black and white. He, after all, did not invent them, but he did manage to get hundreds of women to adopt them for the first time in the early eighties as part of a functional and, finally, more egalitarian wardrobe. If fashion drives social changes, it is almost always through the redefinition of its basics. Something that Armani knew how to see half a century ago and that many, fortunately, are beginning to see now.
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