If it ain't broke, don't fix it. That is Milan Fashion Week in a nutshell. Indeed, most designers honed in on their current successes or heritage to offer solid collections. Embracing one's identity is sometimes better than always striving for the new. Is that a sign that the pace of fashion is slowing down? Maybe not quite yet.
On that topic, there is no better example than Gucci. Alessandro Michele's incredibly successful turnaround of the heritage Italian house is going stronger than ever. Contrary to many, Michele's collections are neither thematic nor seasonal. Instead, they forevermore expand on his aesthetic of retro eccentricity, joyfully mixing and matching anything from high/low, art/pop culture to vintage/modern. With a magpie mentality, Michele collects inspirations (this time, Elton John and 80s glam) and adds to his celebration of fabulous unashamed individuality.
Similarly, Jeremy Scott kept on doing his thing at Moschino. His aesthetic might not be to everyone's taste (in particular compared to the wit of the house's founder), but Scott knows his audience well. For SS18, Jeremy Scott painted his girls as tutu-wearing biker chicks or live flowers, for the finale. His fans will be delighted.
At Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi delivered a collection inspired by Italian futurism. This art movement from the early 20th century was focused on the study of speed and movement. What's more fitting for this old Italian house which, in recent years, has managed to reinvent itself into something young and hip? This collection's graphic lines, stripes and flower motifs made for the kind of playful femininity one has come to expect from Fendi. And what better way to embrace your DNA than with a good old fashioned logo bag?
Speaking of heritage, Donatella Versace paid a touching homage to her late brother Gianni, on the 20th anniversary of his death. The show was a glorious stroll down memory lane, as the designer revisited early nineties Versace collections, such as Vogue, Warhol, Baroque, Metal Mesh and many others. It made the case for the considerable impact her brother has had on the fashion world, but also for how she has managed to carry on that legacy and made it relevant for our times.
The issue is even more potent when a new designer is being appointed to a house with a weighty heritage. Such is the challenge Paul Surridge and design duo Lucie and Luke Meier were facing this season for their first collections at the creative helm of Roberto Cavalli and Jil Sander, respectively.
Surridge was an unexpected choice for Cavalli, as he comes from a menswear background. He nevertheless delivered one of the house's most interesting outings in years. Surridge toned down the usual overt sexuality Cavalli is known for, in favour of athletic-inspired silhouettes, more sympathetic to a woman's body. It might have lacked in outrageousness, but you could see this more sophisticated version of Cavalli appealing to a wider (and more modern) audience.
On the opposite end of the fashion spectrum, Lucie and Luke Meier (a real-life couple) have also been tasked to take a house with a highly specific aesthetic out of its rut. Minimalism is not exactly au goût du jour, yet it is at the core of Jil Sander. The Meiers make for an exciting pairing what with their widely different backgrounds (Lucie from couture and Luke from streetwear). With their debut collection, they discarded their predecessor's stuffiness and rigidity, and instead privileged fluid, oversized, almost monastic shapes. It was a fresh proposition, trying to find a balance between modernity and timeless elegance. A promising start, indeed.
Words by Martin Noives