Milan Fashion Week is in full swing and so far the trends are a mix of full-on syrupy sweetness and tough girl ‘tude. What’s behind this dueling combo? Well, a woman can be all things today, after all.
Sportswear’s and streetwear’s influences on high-end ready-to-wear collections show no signs of waning, but it is causing a wave of ultra-girly pinks, cupcake sleeves, ornate jacquards, and florals this season. Karl Lagerfeld, ever the master of current cultural trends, deftly combined the two this season for Fendi. There were equal amounts of striped crop-tops, vintage style American football pants, and shoes inspired for the field mixed in with pink ruffled apron tops, bow motifs, and plenty of florals. It’s the way Lagerfeld is able to combine these contrasting themes into a perfectly stylized collection that makes everything he touches oh so desirable. Even the sugary looking sparkled lips managed to look tough. Kisses, Karl!
Ferretti knows a thing or two about creating a red carpet-worthy frock infused with plenty of ruffles, lace, and embroidery to satisfy her ultra-feminine clientele, but this season she took a new direction. There was a tougher appeal in leather bodices and layers upon layers of Western-style belts, which is a cool styling idea for spring and beyond. Here there were soft chiffon lace-trimmed skirts worn with masculine pantsuits or shorts paired with romantic flowing skirts and tops worn with flats that still felt appropriately dressed up with the right amount of edge to counterbalance Ferretti’s soft side.
Wanderlust, the pagan traveller, and the pioneering spirit were the references behind Peter Dundas’ collection for Spring. That said, Dundas hardly needs to cite inspiration since his reference point is always the ’70s, but there were details to point out beyond the brand’s standard flared pants and sexy boho style—Native American tribal jewelry and Navajo prints combined with Victorian pieces and platform wooden clogs inspired by traditional Scandinavian dress. Dundas’ mother is American and he is, of course, a native of Oslo, Norway, so combining multicultural ideas came naturally to the designer. The Navajo print looked particularly stellar in a floor-sweeping cape. He also threw in elements inspired by Egyptian textiles, Buffalo soldiers, and jaguar prints from Africa. The latter looked cool in a red slim yet still loose-fitting suit. But for the Cavalli minxes simply looking for something sexy, they’ll be after pieces like an almost sheer, skin-tight black gown with cut-outs the length of models’ torsos—fasting or good genes required.
Holy hell! Literally…Fausto Puglisi staged his Spring collection against the backdrop of a wooden prison complete with convicts and religious iconography. It’s not the first time the mix of religion, repression, and punishment have influenced a collection (Riccardo Tisci for Givenchy’s Spring 2016 menswear show, for example), but Puglisi toned down the toughness with bows, fauna prints, ruffles, and, mon dieu, heavy doses of sex appeal. Giant crosses dangled in between cleavage, sheer knee-high stockings and bow-adorned booties were paired with high-slit feminine dresses, and metal dominatrix collars cuffed the necks of a few models. Speaking of models, there were a few of the tougher variety here, with shaved heads and inked head to toe. Not many are so apt to express their struggle with their Catholic roots, but it always proves to be an intriguing influence, no matter how many times it’s been done (Hello, Madonna). For Puglisi, it packed just the right punch.
“While needing to break the rules that I now consider passé, I wanted to retake possession of the narrative on femininity forever behind my women’s fashion vision,” said creative director Alessandro Dell’Acqua in a press statement. “I created layers of images through an overlapping of references so as to attain a very modern femininity that originates in a strong will to change. And I gave this new woman the chance to transgress and thereby build a present-day reality where perversion becomes a glamour game that’s both innocent and decisive.” Dell’Acqua’s glamour game meant layers upon layers of materials ranging from techy mesh to macramé lace to knits, feathers, and sequins. There were feminine and folk elements combined with a sporty motif that felt geared toward an urban woman’s lifestyle. It felt rich while maintaining a cool girl aura. Plus, the sunglasses collaboration with Linda Farrow, the platform sandals, and the dangling earrings will surely be must-haves come spring.