Milan Fashion Week Sunday: Giorgio Armani, Benetton and Moncler
A final 24 hours of contrasts in the Milan runway season, starring Italy’s single most famous designer and its most mass market brand, Benetton, with the debut of Andrea Incontri; followed by a mass march at Moncler.
Giorgio Armani: Elegiac reassurance
There was something reassuring about the latest show from Giorgio Armani, that after the pandemic, war in Ukraine and economic crisis, a designer could still present a collection so effortlessly elegant and refined.
Presented inside a pale-gray custom-made showroom inside his historic Via Borgonuovo palazzo, the collection had all the silvery elegance one associates with Armani’s signature line, along with a neat soupçon of couture-worthy embroidery.
Long before European designers had become obsessed with China, Armani had gone there in his imagination and multiple Asian references were the underpinning of this collection. The set was even composed of glass versions of vertical bamboo branches.
From dhotis to salwar pants; to coolie jackets and blazers finished in Rajasthan patterns. Most of the floral decoration referenced tropical flowers and fauna, while the exotic jewelry all felt oriental.
At the finale, a dozen models, all in silver, took a languid stroll down the runway. Almost a case book fashion tutorial, where the designer was showing off the skill of his draping; the precision of his atelier.
Little wonder that most of the audience rose to their feet in an extended ovation as Giorgio took his bow. After his hesitant steps and a mock tumbling swim at Emporio on Thursday, there was an almost audible in-take of breathe as he appeared.
Not to worry, clear-eyed and dressed in a navy blue deconstructed suit, a steady Armani milked the moment, wafting in the adulation. Rarely happier than when he knows he has pulled off a clear fashion statement. This is one designer - even at 88 - who never, ever stops working.
Benetton: The fruits of life
Is there a more popular designer in Milan, or make that Italy, than Andrea Incontri? Who enjoyed a two-minute ovation at the finale of his debut for Benetton.
Every second merited in a upbeat, uber bright, fruit-covered collection for the Venetian label, staged inside its flagship on Corso Buenos Aires, the main mass market shopping thoroughfare of Milan.
Best to have taken a cappuccino before this 10 a.m. show, so bright was the color palette, opening with literally a score of looks in pink and orange. Everything from little coco suits in light cotton tweeds with wrap mini skirts; ribbed to the knee knit skirts and knit bra tops; or baby blue or canary yellow terry cloth dressing gowns.
A full collection, featuring high-top sneakers, neat Benetton crocs and even rubber lemon print gardening boots. Handbags, totes and clutches matching the vibrant color palette.
Dozens of knits had fruit patterns; one-foot tall apples, punnets of strawberries; and white peach knit pattern. Seen in a total look of shorts, twin-piece, tote and cloche hat. Similar assemblages in cherry and crab apple followed.
“I wanted to focus on the product, an industrial product, where contrasts are very important. But also a little sweetness, and the idea of self care. That’s why I had so much fruit. People want the perfect body, so it’s nice to have the perfect fruit!” explained Incontri.
Moncler: The triumph of the puffer
This Sunday, fifty million Italians went to the polls, poised to elect the first extreme right government since the Fascist era. On Saturday night, Moncler staged a mass show of some 1,972 extras performing a synchronised marches and military style salutes. All conforming to a single dress code - all-white.
All designed to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Moncler and its by now ubiquitous down jackets.
The visual resemblance with totalitarian marches and rallies was quite frankly disturbing. This is not in anyway to accuse Moncler or its staff of having reactionary political views. But given the current political situation, at the very least, it made one pause.
Too often, the mass hand gestures and repetitive manoeuvres recalled an insane mass rally for North Korea for Kim Jong-un, or Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. If that sounds alarmist, you can easily check out the similarities on videos on Google.
Unwittingly, Moncler’s birthday celebration mimicked the cinematic language of propaganda. Endless group marches or synchronised movements and military salutes all staged before the Duomo of Milan, as if the cathedral was offering its benediction.
Several editors opening expressed their concern, though in the elation of the spectacle nobody seems to have written about the obvious visual parallels. A steady day of rain meant the show happened very late Saturday.
Throughout the weekend, many designers - at Cavalli, Gucci and Bottega Veneta, to name a few - publicly expressed their concern about the threat they believe the right wing leader Giorgia Meloni represents. Meloni wants to deny gays the right to adopt, expel immigrants, reduce LGBTQI+ rights and restrict abortion. Though when one asks luxury executives, the reaction is generally just an embarrassed grimace.
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