The international fall fashion marathon got under way here during the weekend with Milanese designers presenting their versions of winter ready-to-wear for the 1990s.
Perhaps Sunday’s biggest news was a no-show: Romeo Gigli, Milan’s strongest new talent who has decided to show in Paris instead. Piqued at the way the show’s organizers here have treated him, Gigli said: “It’s time, anyway, for me to move to Paris.” (The collections continue here through Thursday when the venue moves to London before continuing on to Paris in mid-March.)
While other Milanese designers such as Gianfranco Ferre, Gianni Versace and Gigli are moving upward into the rich reaches of “ la haute couture " (all three have recently added couture lines to their existing ready-to-wear), Milan superstar Giorgio Armani is broadening his base.
There’s his Mani group, which associates describe as “watered-down Armani,” as well as the greatly expanded Emporio Armani collection that he showed here Sunday morning.
In the past, Armani has decorated the immense inner courtyard of his Via Borgonuovo headquarters and presented Emporio Armani as a bit of a romp. This time, he dignified it with a serious show in his main salon because, as he said, “It’s not just jeans anymore.”
One had only to listen to the background music, in which the lyrics (“Anything you want. Anything you need. You got it.”) said it all: There were serious mid-calf coats, raincoats, suits, short skirts, long skirts, pleated pants, novelty pants--golf bloomers or pink brocade ones, shin deep in fake fur--most of it more or less recognizable as Armani.
The collection was at its best when it remained simple: The bran-brown wool blazer on a pearl gray V-necked cashmere sweater with a cross-over scarf at the neck worn with gray pleated pants, the rose geranium low-calf trench, some of the collarless trapeze-shaped short jackets and the black crepe evening jumpsuit. There was everything from work to weekend to evening clothes; everything, except jeans.
Red Velvet Cushions
Designer Franco Moschino chose to show in what looked like a palazzo with high, painted Renaissance ceilings and row upon row of little chairs, each one covered for the occasion in red velvet cushions trimmed with gold braid. The runway, too, was covered in red velvet while the fashions were Moschino’s usual mix of beautifully cut, beautifully made clothes sandwiched with jokes.
A double-collared black chiffon evening blouse had “this blouse costs thousands of lira” embroidered on the back; chic down parkas were embroidered “hot.” Peace symbols, embroidered in pearls and signed “Peace Pearls” adorned just about everything from T-shirts to hot pants.
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are Milanese originals who do their own thing season after season, each year pushing their look a little further.
Many of Dolce and Gabbana’s shapes seem no more than bolts of fabric wrapped or floated on stretched-out body-clutching dresses. They alternate this ultra-feminine silhouette with their garcon --man-tailored jackets and pants in the black, slate and eggplant color palette they favor.
The Mario Valentino collection is genuine Milan: the luxurious leathers and workmanship that had buyers flocking here in the first place well over a decade ago. Suede blazers had cut-out collars that looked like lace and big, droop-shouldered trenches looked cut out of pure silk that, in reality, was suede. The color palette here: old rose, cocoa, celadon, smoke blue, turkey red mixed with navy.
Away from the runway and in his Milan showroom, Valentino, the Roman couturier who now shows in Paris, was introducing his newest line, Oliver, on dressmaker dummies.
Sure to be a hit with Valentino fans are the quilted micro-fiber silk toppers in olive drab for day and weekends, fire engine red for nights. Pants are classic and pleated; skirts are at the knee or mid-calf.
The advantage here: price. An Oliver suit will retail in the States for about $450, a coat for $400. Barney’s in New York has already bought the line, and several other American retailers have expressed interest. There will also be franchised Oliver boutiques and Oliver corners in existing Valentino boutiques.