Milan Fashion Week Review () -
Milan Fashion Week Review () —
c.2013 New York Times News Service
A fashion show typically lasts about 10 minutes, and that's just enough time to either be suicidal from boredom or convinced you haven't even begun to live, since you never thought of wearing a black party dress over the gray cardigan you leave at the office because you, Ms. Mouse, are always cold.
Miuccia Prada, like Rei Kawakubo and Phoebe Philo, established that there is a world of difference between men and women as designers. One difference is that a woman will readily use her feelings to build a collection instead of an outside source, like the work of an artist.
Karl Lagerfeld might be clever at loading up the pop cultural references at Fendi, and obscuring the evidence in a dizzy pile of fun furs, but you can't imagine him trying to give a shape and texture to female repression. He'd rather stick a pen in his eye, but that's just a guess.
More than 20 years after the sex fantasies of Gianni Versace and Jean Paul Gaultier, studded leather looks like an adolescent rash, it's so commonplace and down-market.
No wonder Donatella Versace, in her show on Friday, made the spikes in collars and dresses four inches long. There's no edge left to the fantasy. But male designers have never been good at the kind of fashion known as "ugly chic." That emotional territory belongs to female designers. Actually, the territory belongs to just one.
''It's everything I like," said Prada before her show, referring to the done-undone quality of the outfits, with tweed or beaded chiffon dresses worn carelessly over drab cardigans, the garments left partly unbuttoned so they fell off shoulders. The midcentury silhouette, with deep fur cuffs on hard leather jackets and gray flannel suits, was another Prada favorite. The gloomy set and the wet "Les Miserables" hair seemed mostly a Prada ploy, and didn't really add anything.
As the models lined up for the show, Prada said: "I'm obsessed with this problem — that everything is forbidden. There is so much control that you can't abandon yourself to anything." If Prada, who turns 64 this year, is frustrated, she shouldn't be too concerned. A generation of women has been peculiarly susceptible to her fashion: they feel exactly what she feels. So, even if this was not the most challenging Prada collection, its naive, almost do-it-yourself glamour still got under your skin.
The most interesting look in the Fendi show on Thursday was a minimalist black wool coat with a left-side panel of black shaved mink and a thin belt that half-closed the garment. The fur supplied a subdued decorative touch, the two-sidedness played a trick on your eye and the coat's shape looked modern and easy to wear.
Lagerfeld had other two-sided pieces in this vividly colored, engaging collection, as well as dresses and coats partly overlaid with shaved fur that was cut on the round and given a neon band of color. "Fashion is almost always about illusion," he said. There were pieces that combined leather and feathery bits in a block pattern. Or were those compacted frills actually fur? Hard to say.
"You can't tell what the fur is today," he said. Nor could you be really sure if some of the trousers and tops were infused with a sports influence. Waistbands were finished with what looked like striped fur. Those bright pinks and blues certainly could be found on any mall rat. Silvia Fendi brought a similar, multihued madness to accessories, including fur-blocked pumps.
But maybe the most magical thing is how Lagerfeld, in spite of the noise, managed to keep on a high level of design.
Modern architecture and technique met in an inspired MaxMara show. This collection is worth checking out; pictures don't adequately convey the textures of fabrics — which include camel's hair, cashmere and a spun alpaca that resembles fur — or how well the volumes of the coats were worked out. The Bauhaus was apparently the inspiration for the everyday stylishness, as well as the soft browns and slate grays. The underpinnings were duly up-to-date: ribbed knits and a pajama-like separates, with sneakers.
Somehow, the many mutations of prints at Etro had a dulling effect. It was unclear what Veronica Etro wanted to do. There were the exploding line patterns and then some rather hard-looking sportswear with much trimming, but it all seemed like just clothes.
Versace whipped out a terrific show. Sure, there is now an adolescent quality to sex-shop leather (down to the studded stiletto cowboy boots). But after last season's insubstantial clothes, she has maneuvered Versace toward a more youthful customer without losing sophistication and brand identity.
Plus, her take on styles like kilts (with a front flap of black patent leather) and classic overcoats, in Vegas-bright wool and animal-print fur, looked fresh. Along with those ear spears (about the size of a meat thermometer) and spiked collars, the collection made a big statement.