Milan is often a low slung cloud-like cocoon of these winter days. There’s a chill in the air with the mist the alps won’t release as the diffused indifferent light doesn’t dull the anticipation of the days ahead.
Much like the morning Magliano began in the dark and much like a Milanese evening the lighting and the music ensured a meditative almost somnambulist approach to the season. This languid feel was certainly a feature of the collection and the soft oversized pieces felt considered and controlled as did the subtle savagery of raw seams and rustic knitwear that worked well with softer more elegant bamboo in a largely natural or past life palette. What was once, becomes and returns, the circular journey is prevalent, flowers are what fill Magliano’s quilted pieces making them completely biodegradable. This and the design seemed to acknowledge the late great “travaglio” Vivienne Westwood but with restraint and elegance that made this a good start to the day.
Out into the zuppa Milanese, the industrial areas of this town have been transformed as the need for space to house plans, dreams and egos seems to be ever more popular and into the world of Etro. Famous for their fabrics and their idiosyncratic take on the world, that only a family brand can really achieve the creative process is now being helmed by an outsider – Marco De Vincenzo. He gets it, the impression is like a reunion of rather eccentric school friends. The space has been decked out like a fabric warehouse filled with lengths and rolls of Etro archival fabrics and the collection has a feel of having raided the dressing up box. Clearly considered but also spontaneous the array of checks, stripes and appliqués makes dressing up a happy process as if each model has unearthed a treasure from the depths of the familial wardrobe.
What do a drone and a couple of thousand screaming fans have in common? They are both outside Prada in the hope of seeing Enhypen a South Korean band, some of whose 11.5 million Instagram followers have turned up today. Definitely livens up the industrial area where Prada holds its shows beside their Fondazione. So through the gauntlet into the arena where the dual drivers Miuccia and Raf will be showing their new collaboration. An oppressive metallic ceiling hovers above our heads in the dark minimalist space. As the show begins the whole ceiling slowly rises to reveal art deco meets industrial lights throughout the space, like something from an elegant Bond production. The invite was a small cushion which was a whisper of the padded bombers and even tanks that were to follow. Scale, confidence, precision and conviction is what followed. Silhouettes were bold and exaggerated but nonchalant, leather was thick and raw including long lean tunic like shirts, the bold full stop on each look were heavy soled apron front shoes that gave the figure an L.S. Lowry-like appearance and true to their roots accompanied by an array of unique bags. Tailoring was oversized and cropped. The much debated algorithm of how successful having two skippers at the helm can be, seems in my mind to be put to rest.
Milan has always liked a cowboy. Just ask Sergio Leone or even the Paninari and Valstar are no different. Hosting their presentation at the recently restored classic cocktail bar, Camparino. They, much like the bar were restoring classics with a nod to the cowboy whose jackets were a source of inspiration for this luxury suede and sheepskin brand led by Luigi Fila. The location of the presentation in the Galleria seemed appropriate and complemented the elegant display of blousons and soft tailored coating in deep pastels and greys. This cowboy is happily at home in understated luxury and classics rather than the rugged range where the buffalos roam.
Milano is full of courtyards and “portone” (entrances). Often one can sense what lies within. Be it the brand or the collection from them. We’re heading down to near the Navigli, Porta Genova where the streets narrow and character comes out. Through the windows there is an array of objects, phrases and random imagery that promotes curiosity. We’re at Massimo Alba. The reptilian skin that fashion inevitably is, doesn’t relate to the concept of design as a modus operandi. Massimo Alba is an example of the latter. His aesthetic is a gradual evolution or circuit, much like a Bedouin tribe, care for the land as you will revisit it. Don’t desolate but donate. A plant or a turn of phrase is as integral as fabric or a silhouette. Enjoy life, look after life and life will look after you. Alba’s garments represent that ethos. Unstructured and considered in washed and brushed fabrics they are unassuming and generous but retain a contemporary feel and embrace the day ahead.
So through the “portone” into a beautiful courtyard of pebble flooring mosaic surrounded by ivy lined porticos is how one enters Canali. Time is one of our greatest luxuries and Canali’s languid approach seems to acknowledge that concept. Shapes are soft and undulating. The urban hard edges of tailoring are replaced by softer oversized silhouettes that leave space for a more harmonious approach to what lies ahead. Presented as a demi show appropriately in the Palazzo dei tessuti (The Palace of Fabric) the philosophy was one of luxury and harmony.
Tradition and technology usually travel separately however creative director Paul Surridge ensures that they accompany each other for Corneliani’s collection. His approach is one of treasuring the past and refreshing it with the new, the cashmere is recycled giving new life to what was and making it what will be. Dry and crisp evolved tweeds sit well with underlays of technical suiting just as technical quilting cocoons soft brushed twills with a natural to dark palette that feels like a good journey towards next winter.
As destinations go, Villa Necchi is always a pleasure to visit, nestled in its own private gardens it is often a sanctuary from the bustle of Milano, but not always. Villa Necchi played the part of host for Tod’s whose footprint is getting far stronger than their classic car shoe. Filled with the throngs of the curious the pieces felt confident to the extent that the leather trousers, seen in quite a few collections this season, were in the right place and the details strengthened that feeling of a brand whose found its way forward. Logos are something I’ve never been comfortable with but they are a necessary evil and the T on the shoe was well used and not offensive. Villa Necchi will do that to you.
The contemporary coliseums that in recent years have been built by the brands are like many things fashion pioneered by Milan’s very own emperor, Mr. Armani. However this season he returned to his familiar home in central Milan. No one does soft and muted better than Mr. Armani and much like his neighbourhood and the skies above us, tones are subtle and peaceful. Milan may be a grey town but no one does grey like him. The mix of utilitarian and elegant drape is one of his legacies and the calculated calm and confidence is from someone who has sampled so much of the world and always comes home.
Morning to evening the days don’t seem to alter at this time of year. It can feel like some form of meteorological purgatory and the indifferent anonymous horizontals and verticals of the outlying suburbs of Milan compound that. Nebulous, misty, foggy. Three words that are an integral part of life in Milan, cloudy as well and so to Zegna where the clouds are made of up-cycled cashmere. Recycling is probably in every press release these days as we all know fashion is a dirty business. But it takes a brand like Zegna to take recycling and make it a premium product and not an apology. We walked out of the damp misty streets and into a corridor surrounded by clouds of cashmere into a paired back dark oblong where the show began. Alessandro Sartori wants simplicity or purity. He’s gutted the jackets removed the canvassing, the structuring and even the collars and lapels. Sounds spartan? Not here. Don’t forget the cashmere clouds. Voluminous from top to bottom there’s room for everyone here and comfort is key, at Zegna you can wear the clouds. Who else has 80 percent cashmere in their collection other than the cloud makers.