Financial Times Europe - 23.09.2019

(Kiana) #1

Monday23 September 2019 ★ FINANCIAL TIMES 13


MILAN FASHION WEEK


A fashion show is theatre, declared Ales-
sandro Michele, and if he was aiming for
a drama, he got it.
There was a travelator in place of a
catwalk with strip lights along the side
and the first model stood passively as it
moved along, wearing a white canvas
jacket that closely resembled a strait-
jacket fromOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s
Nest. Other models appeared in white
canvas smocks with ties up the back like
psychiatric hospital gowns, wide trou-
sers and white canvas dresses with
restraint-like buckles. Each model
looked blankly forward as if drugged.
It was about as unexpected an open-
ing to a Gucci show as you could get:
stripped back, blank and clinical. And if
he set out to make his audience uncom-
fortable it worked: what did it mean?
You don’t get many succinct explana-
tions fromMichele, although backstage
he explained that the straitjacket is an
extreme form of uniform and uniforms
enable us to function in society but also
constrain us.
On the other hand he equates fashion
with freedom, so the next section of the
show went back to a more familiar Gucci
universe of self-expression. This time
though, it was more pared down than in
previous seasons. Gender-fluid tailoring
was key with suits in decidedly ’70s
shapes and fabrics. Slightly short flared
trousers came in reds, purples, browns
and greens, in velvet and satin, paired
with sandals or Cuban heel boots.
Flared jeans were worn with little
leather blouson jackets or a longer
leather trench. There were also 1980s
-style zip up anoraks, and office worker
shirt-and-tie looks that underlined the
theme of uniform and constraint in a
less extreme form. Geek-chic touches
such as oversized plastic glasses chains
were counterbalanced with a fetish ele-
ment in the form of high leather boots,
negligees, shiny black leather gloves and
models carrying whips. The kinky ele-
ment was underlined by Madonna’sJus-
tify My Loveas the closing music.


Since Michele took over at Gucci, it
has become the biggest show on the
Milan schedule, and a phenomenal suc-
cess story. However, after two years of
what Jean-Marc Duplaix, Kering’s chief
financial officer, has called “exceptional
growth”, sales at Gucci slowed in the first
half of 2019. They rose 16.3 per cent over
the period compared with 37 per cent
the year before. The brand accounts for
more than half of Kering’s revenues, and
is the luxury conglomerate’s biggest
growth driver. The Gucci bubble hasn’t
burst just yet though.
Desire for Gucci has been fuelled
hugely by its cool factor since designer
Michele became creative director in


  1. However, some luxury consumers
    are starting to shift their priorities,
    shunning brands seen to have an out-
    dated attitudeto the environment.
    Gucci is addressing its ecological
    impact directly, which is not only ethi-
    cal, it helps position the brand favoura-
    bly for eco-minded millennials. This
    month they announced that their sup-
    ply chain would become carbon neutral,
    “offsetting all remaining Greenhouse


Gas (GHG) emissions annually from its
own operations and the entire supply
chain through four critically important
REDD+[i] projects that support forest
conservation around the world.”
Carbon offsetting is viewed with scep-
ticism by some, who see it as carte
blanche for individuals or brands to
continue with behaviour that damages
the planet. However, Gucci also has a 10-
year sustainability strategy that aims to
reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by
50 per cent by 2025. In an interview in
September, Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri
acknowledgedthe strategy was not per-
fect, and brands have been embracing
thismea culpa pproach to theira carbon
footprint as a way of announcing their
credentials and pre-empting criticism.
Victoria Beckham even used the hash-
tag “not perfect” in connection with her
new “clean” beauty range, launched this

month. Before Gucci closed Milan Fash-
ion Week, several other homegrown
brands showedat the weekend. Paul
Andrew, creative director of Ferragamo,
is one of many designerscaught in a bal-
ancing act between maintainingmature
existing clients and attracting new ones.
He’s doing a good job of forging a coher-
ent identity for the historic Italian
house,largely known forleather goods.
The ready-to-wear is now stocked on
Net-a-Porter for the first time.
So this season it was the turn of the
Vara shoe — Ferragamo’s low-heeled
pump with a flat bow — to get a makeo-
ver. It’s a design classic, but perhaps a
little more madame than millennial. For
SS20, Andrew reimagined it with a
pointed toe and bow all in the same col-
our leather, and it was styled with ankle
socks. He also offered surprisingly con-
vincing little leather socks nspired byi
the Kimo shoe that alvatore FerragamoS
created after visiting Japan in the 1930s.
Andrew said he has seen, a “return to
tailoring among consumers, and waiting
lists for last season’s trouser suits, I
think people are looking for ease and
lightness, they are always travelling.”
There was a lack of fuss to the collection,
which incorporated a lot of minimal
workwear shapes inluxe materials. A
boxy shirt jacket came in a lustrous pale
pink leather, dungarees in tan; djellaba
dresses and jumpsuits had a laid back
air. Swimwear is going to be a new focus
for the brand and little trunks were dec-
orated with a horse print. “Where else
but in Italy would you see men in
Speedos,” quipped Andrew, who is plan-
ning to launch swimwear “in a big way”.
Swimwear also appeared at Missoni,
where the brand staged its show around
an outdoor pool built in the 1930s. The
womenswear incorporated metallics
and shimmer which came in the form of
patterned shirts, knitted trousers, maxi
dresses and jumpers. Missoni is defi-
nitely in the hippy deluxe, free-spirited
space, along with Etro who combined
folkloric touches with paisley. At Mis-
soni the menswear was the strong suit
with highlights including a double-
breasted blue suit with yellow pinstripe.
The look felt likeThe Talented Mr Ripley
— imagine a 1950s playboyin Italy, chat-
ting up girls in the ice cream parlour.
At Armani, the eponymous designer
had taken inspiration from the idea of a
sea nymph and lightness and translu-
cency prevailed. The show closed with a
parade of beaded evening coats and
dresses in pastel pinks and blues, worn
with organza stoles. As a study in ultra-
feminine glamour it couldn’t have been
further from Gucci if it tried.

Review | oth ItalianB


luxury houses went


deep into the jungle for


their collections, writes


Carola Long


Donatella Versace helped build the
internet, and now she is setting out to
“break” it. At Friday’s Versace show in
Milan she enlisted Jennifer Lopez to
walk the runway in an updated version
of the jungle print dress the star wore to
the Grammys in 2000. The story behind
the original Versace dress is that huge
numbers of people went online afterto
search for images of the singer wearing
it, making it the most popular search
query Google had seen at the time. How-
ever, when people couldn’t find the right
picture, heads at the search engine were
inspired to create Google Images.
Naturally, the audience went wild at
the show, as the singer strutted down
the catwalk in a version of the dressthat
had significantly less fabric than the
original — just two strips of material
across the bust and a slashed skirt. And
Donatella knows how to create anticipa-
tion. After ashow that featured numer-
ous variations on the jungle print
theme, giant screens around the circu-
lar catwalk showed her asking Google
Assistant “now. Google. Show me the
real jungle dress” before the star
appeared. Cue mass filming, photo-
graphing and Instagramming. It was a
nicely choreographedmoment that
illustrates how far the internet has
changed the fashion landscape over the
last twenty years.
It also underlines how much harder it
is now to create dresses with the same
impact because we are so overwhelmed
with images competing for our atten-
tion. However, Versace has produced
numerous garmentsthat genuinely
deserve the overused term “iconic”,
such as the black dress held together
with safety pins worn by Liz Hurley in



  1. And this show is a reminder of
    their place in pop culture as well as fash-
    ion history.
    And so to the new collection, which
    may have got temporarily lost in the J Lo
    excitement. These were strong, fierce
    clothes, with lots of exaggerated 1980s-
    inspired shapes and of course, jungle
    print. It came in an airbrushed version
    on a skinny suit and matching shirt, on a
    tiny silk mini, a clear mac, and on a
    shimmering mini dress with clusters of
    large sequins and beads that looked like
    dripping foliage. Suits had gold palm-
    tree brooches pinned to them to match
    the towering gold palm tree in the centre
    of the catwalk.


Eveningwear included a shimmering
red-sequinned cocktail dress with
puffed sleeves and tropical-looking 3D
flowers. The 1990s-era supermodel
Amber Valetta appeared in a long black
column dress with moulded bra cups.
Sharp black tailored jackets — some
worn as dresses, some in leather — came
with gold buttons, and sweetheart neck-
lines, and huge puffed sleeves.
When it came to more casual looks a

sort of tie-dye marble-effect was
splashed over a check jacket, and also
appeared on shoulder-padded hooded
tops, while other more relaxed clothing
included skinny jeans worn with a
puffed sleeve trenchcoat and stilettos.
Everything was accessorised with seri-
ous amounts of blingy jewellery in the
form of chunky gold and crystal ear-
rings. Donatella Versace said, “this show
is dedicated to all women, from the mil-
lennials to non-millennials, to working
women, or women raising a family.”
Later in the weekend Dolce & Gab-
bana offered their own twist on the rain-
forest theme with a show they dubbed
“Sicilian Jungle”. Models emerged from
a backdrop of giant plants, and strutted
down a leopard-print catwalk. For the
third season in a row there were no blog-
gers or so-called influencers at the show,
— Stefano Gabbana declared backstage

that “the influencer is over”. The show
opened with an explorer look, via khaki
trousers, trenches and jackets with mili-
tary pockets. This was the most under-
stated section thoughit soon gave way
to a riot of colour, pattern and embel-
lishment. Jungle scenes, foliage and
flowers were painted on to 1950s-
shaped dresses, jackets and shirts.
Sequin skirts depicted lush foliage and
cockatoos, and little butterfly and plant-
print shorts teamed with a braof two
pineapple shapes had a ’50s pin-up feel.
The jungle theme was interspersed
with the brand’s signature little black
dresses and sheer black lace over 1950s-
style bras and big knickers. All the Dolce
boxes were ticked, with zebra, giraffe
and tiger patterns adding to the usual
leopard print. Talking backstageGab-
bana said, “we are focusing on hand-
made, we are very traditional” and a
crafty section featured macramé pencil
skirts and jackets, as well as skirts made
of raffia tiers with something of a Tiki
look. Accessories included tiny little
bags that would fit in the palm of your
hand, wedge sandals with green straps
that wound around the ankle like vines
and a large red lily decoration.
Perhaps the jungle theme seems a lit-
tle crass in light of the rapid destruction
of the Amazon: in addition to the multi-
ple photos of J Lo at Versace circulating
online and the 239,522 and counting
likes she garnered for Versace’s Insta-
gram, there was another Instagram post
with an image of the singer in the jungle
dress in front of climate protesters.
There was no environmental element
to the Dolce show. Domenico said the
theme came about because “the world is
like a jungle.” Certainly the fashion
world can seem like a jungle at times.

From straitjackets and


travelators at Gucci to


Missoni swimwear — the


end of Milan took us to new


destinations. ByCarola Long


Mad for Milano


Versace and Dolce & Gabbana SS


J Lo strutted in a


version of the dress


with significantly less


fabric than the original


Clockwise from main: Gucci SS20; Giorgio Armani; Salvatore Ferragamo; Missoni Jason Lloyd-Evans—

Uniforms enable us to


function in society


but also constrain us


From left: Dolce & Gabbana; Versace; Dolce & Gabbana; Versace Jason Lloyd-Evans—

SEPTEMBER 23 2019 Section:Features Time: 9/201922/ - 18:45 User: andrew.higton Page Name:FASHION, Part,Page,Edition:USA , 13, 1

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