Milan Fashion Week: WINTER IS COMING
Let’s all take a brief moment to say farewell to normcore. The trend made a brief comeback over the last two seasons, specifically at fall/winter 2017/18. But now, it’s surely on its way out; or, at least, that’s the case in Milan. Earlier this year, Milan Fashion Week previewed fall fashion that is anything but basic. Even more minimalist fashion brands like Giorgio Armani gave their outfits a utilitarian edge to make it look more military-dandy. So much so that the fashion world has come up with a new word to replace normcore: warcore. And who can blame them, with all the news of an upcoming geopolitical crisis, it’s about time we are dressed for the occasion.
Non-minimalist brands, like Gucci or Versace, meanwhile, displayed clothes that are the exact opposite of “minimal”: maximal. That is to say, vibrant clothes that are heavy on patterns, print and bold color clashes—clothes that basically make a strong statement. So, when you flip through the shows of last fall’s Milan Fashion week, there are two different personalities that stand out. One, the bold man that is not afraid to pull off bright colors and be at the center of attention, and two, the uniformed and more traditional men that dress elegantly utilitarian.
Look at Me Now
On the maximal side, highlights include Gucci, Versace, Missoni, Etro and Dolce & Gabbana, who all displayed vibrant collections full of colors and patterns. One thing most of them had in common was that the designers were inspired by cultures from around the world, and thus celebrated—or brought to light—the idea of individuality. There were Russian babushka headscarves at Gucci, ancient Greek “Amore e Psiche” (Cupid and Psyche) print shirts at Versace, New York in the early ‘80s at Missoni and Persian carpet coats at Etro. Diesel Black Gold, too, celebrated different cultures in its folksy and tribal collection, where models sported clothes with rich patterns and delicate embroideries.
Similar to what appeared in New York, check patterns made a strong appearance in Milan. At Gucci, for instance, one model wore an oversized coat with clashing prints. From Missoni, checks appeared on top of knit jackets and parkas, mostly in multicolor, that all looked very bohemian. Etro, whose collection was inspired by habitats—particularly vintage furniture like rugs, sofas and curtains—sent check on top of reversible coats that were mostly lined with pattern details, from paisley to patchwork. Marni, too, went deep into childhood memorabilia, putting forth check coats and tote bags underneath playful illustrations created by Frank Navin.
It was Versace, of course, who was at the top of the game, as the brand displayed a powerful collection by mixing and matching different check prints in different colors to create unexpected patterns in suits and coats. Palm Angels also presented a similar idea, by showcasing loose-fitting pants with three different check patterns in three colors (red, yellow and white).
Above all, however, it was Prada that maximized bold print clashes that scream presence. See the viral bowling shirt with yellow flames, red geometric patterns and blue vertical stripes that opened this article? The one that was worn by celebrities like Jeff Goldblum, Nick Robinson and Pusha T? Well, that’s actually a piece from Prada’s fall/winter 2018 collection. And it is guaranteed to be one of the hottest—if not the hottest—items this season. Miuccia Prada also offered the bowling shirt in various iterations, including one plastered with bananas and flames.
But Prada balanced this maximalist look with something very utilitarian and minimal. In fact, the first five looks on the runway saw models dressed in full black, using nylon as a material that Miuccia Prada herself is currently obsessed with. At a glance, there was something very industrious about Prada this fall, even amid the whirlwind of pattern clashes and bold color choices she showed towards the end. It strongly reflected the ’90s, where work wear dominated the scene, hoodies came with zipper pockets, trousers were baggy and suits were boxy.
Look At the Future
Again, utilitarian is a strong theme in Milan last fall, where clothes looked like they were made for war rather than harsh weather. Case in point was Diesel Black Gold, whose collection was supposed to be a celebration of different cultures, yet models at the brand’s runway looked more like apocalyptic hippies ready for battle—in a good way, of course. Palm Angels’ “American Gothic” themed collection, too, took the war-ready concept quite literally with don’t-touch-me spiky balaclavas. Jeremy Scott, meanwhile, veered into a somewhat similar direction with fetish gear. His collection blurred gender lines by presenting brawny men dressed in corsets with frilly dressing gowns while others sported kinky accessories like latex masks and leather harnesses.
While there’s no doubt that many see the future as full of inevitable doom and gloom, Miuccia Prada showed that there is still hope, which somehow explains the contrast of her fall 2018 offerings. “We are living in a period that’s interesting because we don’t know where we’re going,” said Prada after her menswear show ended. “Of course it’s scary, of course it’s worrying, but also interesting because of the feeling that big changes are coming.”
Ex-Prada menswear design director Neil Barrett, who played a vital role in establishing Prada’s menswear line, also echoed a similar line through his namesake label. He looked back to 1995, at his first role at Prada Men. Consequently, black nylon was there, in coats and jackets. Though more prevalent was his incorporation of military uniforms with moss green outerwear that was very common in Milan, at Tod’s with its aviator jackets or at Ralph Lauren Purple Label with its sturdy navy wear, marine jackets and air force uniforms.
It was Fendi, however, that really achieved the right balance with its mix of utilitarian clothing with sport and streetwear with the brand’s fabulous and luxurious mostly-reversible outerwear, like ski and track jackets, in her show. Another highlight is the double F logo fur coat that is offered mostly in brown. Ermenegildo Zegna seems to have the same idea as it presents sharp yet soft silhouettes enveloping its suits and blousons, sometimes paired with mountain boots that is the go-to shoe trend in Milan. The same type of footwear that was, by the way, also spotted at Giorgio Armani, Versace with its sneaker-boot hybrid dubbed the Chain Reaction and MSGM’s college life inspired collection called the “University of Casuality,” where designer Massimo Giorgetti showcased compelling tractor boots with exaggerated rubber soles.
At the end, one couldn’t help but feel that designers of Milan presented collections that protect. Maybe it’s the dominance of outdoor gear, military references and robust footwear that made it look like we’re going to war. Maybe it’s not so much about actual war than a war with identity, as showcased through the maximal and diverse options available at Versace, Missoni, Prada and Gucci. Perhaps Alesandro Michele described the current situation perfectly when he displayed models holding snakes, baby dragons or their own severed heads at Gucci, which symbolizes the struggle of people—teenagers and adults alike— developing their self-awareness and personality. “We are the Dr. Frankenstein of our lives,” said Michele. “We exist to reproduce ourselves, but we have moved on. We are in a post-human era, for sure; it is under way.” That said, winter is definitely coming.
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