Fashion Review


Versace, spring 2019.CreditCreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

MILAN — In the upper gallery of the Museo delle Culture in Milan, a giant paisley patchwork tree grew bulbous textile blooms and sent its roots snaking over beanbag chairs and up the sides of walls. Women in long paisley gowns and men in paisley shirts and ties sipped prosecco, ogled the sumptuous textiles and discussed a show from the day before (the catwalk kind) in which similar-but-different prints and pajama lines celebrated mindfulness, surfing and the sunsets of the Pacific Grand Tour.

An hour or so later, atop a roof overlooking one of the city’s newly constructed shopping centers, bathed in the glow of neon-lit skyscrapers, the composer and pianist Michael Nyman serenaded guests seated at round aluminum cafe tables dotted with glowing LED votives as models strode by in filigree lace knits glimmering in storm-cloud colors, ruffled hobo layers under long, cape-like cardigans trailing little knit vines.


Missoni, spring 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Missoni M/W: Spring 2019

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Gio Staiano/Nowfashion

It was Saturday night and Etro and Missoni were celebrating 50 and 65 years, respectively.

So did the Italian ready-to-wear shows begin to draw to a close: with the elegantly packaged problem of how to recognize history while trying not to repeat it. It’s pretty much the issue of the hour in Europe right now. Why not on the runways?

At least designers are asking the right question, even if not all the answers are particularly illuminating. Or even satisfying.

Etro, spring 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Etro: Spring 2019

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Guillaume Roujas/Nowfashion

Instead there’s a lot of polished hemming and hawing; any number of impeccable leather trench coats, but few big ideas.

The wind of social change that had blown gender fluidity and empowerment and inclusivity onto the runways in New York and London seemed to have petered out by the time the shows got to Italy. The models still looked genuinely more diverse, but much of the clothes did not. Instead, designers seemed to be tiptoeing ever so cautiously forward, edging their sneaker-shod foot (does every runway really need a sneaker?) into spring 2019.

Giorgio Armani, spring 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Giorgio Armani: Spring 2019

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Guillame Roujas/Nowfashion

At Armani, Giorgio Armani did it with impressionist organzas and sci-fi polymers floating around iridescent trademark small-shouldered jackets, languid trousers and red carpet swirls, all as sparkling and ephemeral as a greige Milky Way seen through a telescope at night.

Versace: Spring 2019

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Gio Staiano/Nowfashion

At Versace, Donatella Versace did it with stripes and squares and florals (mostly florals; sometimes five at once) tailored and draped and swathed around the body in an energetic, asymmetric mix of messages: a little office funky, a little party petal power. And she did it with a 1990s supermodel: Shalom Harlow, who closed the show in a one-shoulder bright bloom microdress atop a long black lace lingerie goddess gown.

Salvatore Ferragamo, spring 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Salvatore Ferragamo M/W: Spring 2019

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Guillame Roujas/Nowfashion

Indeed, the ’90s renaissance continues, from the models to the clothes. Amber Valletta closed Agnona in a caramel vicuña knit caftan dress atop cafe au lait swishy silk pants that pretty much summed up the languidly invisible ethos of the brand. Stella Tennant opened Salvatore Ferragamo, where Brancusi-inspired sculpted shoes and basket-woven bootees set the tone for another plunge by the designers Paul Andrew (for women) and Guillaume Meilland (for men) into the archives via palm scarf prints, tactile materials and boxy shapes that were a little too bag-like on the body.

Agnona, spring 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Agnona: Spring 2019

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Gio Staiano/Nowfashion

Meanwhile, stone washed denim (stone washed denim! not again) also appeared in Jordan almond colors at Marco de Vincenzo, mixed in with lace dresses atop silky slips, and strange gamboling lamb prints.

It’s jarring to remember that back in the ’90s Milan was the city defined by the twin poles of sex and sensibility. The joy of flesh and form that once exerted its own magnetic pull here has well and truly dissipated, for understandable reasons. The ethos is evolving into something akin to sports and sensibility, though the tension between those two imperatives is not quite as compelling.

Marco de Vincenzo: Spring 2019

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Guillame Roujas/Nowfashion

See Roberto Cavalli, where the creative director Paul Surridge went all-in on what may be the single biggest trend of the week: bike shorts.

Imagine bike shorts in tiger stripes under matching tiger-striped blazers; bike shorts beneath leather bustier minidresses; bike shorts with long, sheer striped shirts; and embroidered, lacy bike shorts for evening. This is one of those cases where designers should pay less attention to Kim Kardashian West’s Instagram feed. No one else needs so many bike shorts in her life. Or, for that matter, wrestling-onesies-turned-minidresses with cropped tops, a less than flattering invention Mr. Surridge also explored.

Roberto Cavalli, spring 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Roberto Cavalli: Spring 2019

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Guillame Roujas/Nowfashion

On the other hand, a mid-calf black dress, one shoulder held up by an articulated gold strap of a snake, that was buried amid it all — that we could have more of. Just as there could be more of the inversion of all sorts of heritage that Francesco Risso pulled off at Marni, where he was fully in command of his own wackadoodle reworking of the classics. As his audience bounced on brass beds, he knocked all sorts of myths off their Doric pedestals.

Marni, spring 2019.CreditValerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

Marni: Spring 2019

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Gio Staiano/Nowfashion

Sheath dresses of the 1950s Riviera kind, boned at the waist and gathered at the hip, were remade in rough-edged canvas of the Martin Margiela sort; suede coats with portrait collars and dropped shoulders daubed with drops of primer; silks collaged with postcard statuary; and jersey skirts looped from the hem up and over one shoulder in an Aphrodite drape.

The effect was of Carrara marble cracked open to show some feet of clay. At the moment that isn’t just his story — or herstory. It is all of ours.

Luca Bruno/Associated Press

Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times


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