Milan Fashion Week SS18 : Solace Found in the (Fabulous) Familiar

Like London and New York, Milan SS18 soaked us all with a wave of optimism, making way for upbeat and joyful collections. Vibrant colour, overwhelming sequence, sporadic plumage all played seminal roles in lifting next season into an emotional high. Bright colours have been proven to psychologically improve our mood for the better. Case and point: I don’t know how anyone could hide a smile from Missoni’s glorious rainbow knitwear! Most notably riding on this surge of excess hues, included Marco De Vincenzo who dedicating his collection to his roots in Sicily, Bottega Veneta which (known for its image of “stealth wealth”) surprisingly was flooded with blingage, and, who I considered the star of the Millan collections, Francesco Risso at Marni who after a shaky start at the creative helm last season, truly impressed in delivering ingenuity and wearability.

Also never shying away from a colourful sensation is Alessandro Michele’s Gucci with a collection of over a whopping 100 looks. While grand in its melange of cultural references and homage to 1980s kitch, was this collection anything different than what we have seen in previous years? Michele truly disrupted Milan with his newfound vision of Gucci in 2015however with each new season, is it all becoming the same narrative and dare I say, predictable? Is a brand’s set unwavering image now everything or do progressive clothes still count? Also, continuing with unchanging narratives was Dolce and Gabbana and Prada who although presented expertly executed pieced, too seemed predictable.

The antithesis of the runway kaleidoscope was the debut collection by Luke and Lucy Meier for Jil Sander. The mostly monochromatic scheme served as a refreshing palate cleanser compared to other shows and injected soul to notoriously sterile minimalism. The collection was varied in style, poetic in taste and served as a worthwhile starting point for the influential brand’s new chapter.

However, the absolute “Fashion Moment” of Milan – heck fashion moment of the season  was Donatella Versace’s tribute to her late brother Gianni, who was tragically killed 20 years ago. The collection paid respect to Gianni’s genius (yes, genius is appropriate in this context) by translating some of his finest work into modern day wear. Fascinating how some pieces – the Trésor de la Mer collection, the Vogue dresses, the Butterfly collection, the Native American feathers, the black and gold baroque prints – now almost 30 years old – seem just as relevant today. This is not a collection to be judged on but to be appreciated – Paying respect to a legend and a different time in fashion. Most obvious in making this point was the supermodel finale featuring Claudia, Naomi, Cindy, Carla, and Helena – strong women with personality. When compared to the often wafer thin, expressionless teenage girls who teetered down the runway before them it showed a drastic difference how the industry changed. From intimate, independent, emotional to disposable, impersonal, and filtered. Of course, that is a much too generalised and gloomy statement but I do think it is fair to state fashion has changed into more replaceable and immediate, attracting a range of consequences.

Overall, there is naturally comfort in doing what we know and it seemed therefore that this is what Milan was emphasising by playing its greatest hits – postmodern counterintuitivism at Prada, magpie maximalism at Gucci, millennial madness at Dolce and Gabbana. But in comparison to what we saw in London and New York, where there is this unprecedented energy to give more chances to younger new talent, this was missing in Milan. Opportunities for the new generation was one of the priorities to the late Franca Sozzani and it would be great for this to play more of a factor in Milan’s future.