It's pretty apparent that the past four or five years have been a Magical Mystery Tour of the 20th century--where we'll stop, no one knows. Last calendar year we traveled from the 50s to the 70s, but if some people had their way, we'd find the perfect medium and come out in the middle: the late 60s. Prada was all about "innocent" glamor, so they sent a New Wave girl out on the runway, chocabloc with references to YSL's Mondrian dress and Paco Rabbane's creations--sweet double-breasted coats paired with a very low waistline and plastic paillete dresses. Over at Aquilano.Rimondi and Marni, late-60s Balenciaga saw a revival. The Marni collection was all about what designer Consuelo Castiglioni called "severe elegance," pairing the volume of Balenciaga's ponchos with flattening minimalist prints. (This combination seems like a winner for Castiglioni--many critics think this is the oddball label's most accessible collection yet.)
The SeventiesThis year marked Gucci's 90th anniversary, and Frida Giannini celebrated by taking the house back to the 70s. I normally hate the disco era, but if it means that we'll see more shirts with jabots, smart suits, and long, flowing dresses with slits up to here, then bring it on! This was the first Gucci collection I've liked in awhile--it wasn't the most innovative, but it was elegant. The collection also showcases Milan's unusually strong colors for the season: teal, plum purple, orange, goldenrod, red, goldenrod, and brown.
(I'd also like to take the opportunity to point out that Dolce & Gabbana showed a similar type of dress, but the collection was deeply embarrassing--designer fanny packs!--and brought me much pain so I will not link to it. You can blind yourself if you want.)
SerpentineThe Milan runways haven't given themselves to prints as much as New York and London have, preferring instead to emphasize Italy's strong textile tradition. Yet this season saw variations on the same theme: mysterious and unsettling curvey prints. Alberta Ferretti showed a strong, unforgettable surrealist print with some of the season's most beautiful colors. Versace riffed on a classic house print, making a baroque curlicew into a mysterious, half-seen Gordian knot.
Armani showed a trend that's been more common in New York (Alexander Wang) and Paris (Dior, Anne Valerie Hash) than in Italy. It wasn't a particularly strong collection--I felt some of the models looked like they were in a very high class nursing home--but the colors were lovely. Gray, rose, dusk, black. We'll probably see them around next season.