...Italian designers triumph, embracing luxury and indulgence

by Dara Lang
If I were to describe the overall look for the Spring/Summer 2009 collections, the words inspiring and exhilarating would stride together down the runway, hand in hand as we arrive at one of the most favolosa and oh so glamorous cities, Milan. Let’s begin quite simply with the Greek Goddess, the season’s prime trend. A stylish, figure-hugging wrap dress seen on many occasions, in particularly at Versace and Alberta Ferretti’s show, both beautifully captured the Greek essence with one-shoulder, floor length gowns, whilst Blumarine similarly enchanted the catwalk with a mauve flowing gown, wrapped tightly at the waist. Likewise, Maurizio Pecoraro opened his show with a draped asymmetrical grey number, whose one-shoulder draped tulle dress enveloped the model in a modern knee length alternative to the floor length gown.

London designers seem to be looking on the bright side of life with the current credit crunch, but the Italian’s seem almost oblivious to the crisis and are instead embracing luxury and glamour which was translated through sumptuous decorative materials. This was demonstrated at Francesco Scognamiglio’s show, whose angelic looking models (some even spotted with wings) gracefully strutted down the catwalk with feathered sleeves and at the waist on, strapless ivory cocktail dresses adorned with sculptural rosettes and ruffles. Roberto Cavalli also embraced this with flamboyant and ultra feminine Victorian chiffon robes with stiff corsets and broderie Anglais detailing on white trouser suits whilst Alessandro Dell’Acqua embellished his models in colourful embroidery and tasselled hemlines on 1920’s flapper inspired dresses.

Another trend, heavily explored and altered in all different forms was layering and ruffles. Romantic and heavenly, Luisa Beccaria celebrated flowers and ruffles in her collection which was present in almost every piece, from strapless tulle frocks to asymmetric tiered skirts with frills graduating down to an empire line and adding to this, ballerina tutu’s, and ribbons! Moschino also favoured this girly froufrou look with frilly light see-through dresses, with pretty flower motifs around the collar and silk dresses cinched in at the waist by a large belt, then released out in layers one on top of the other into delicate silk waves ending just under the knee.

Colour was very much celebrated in New York and London; Milan however experimented with structure and form, commencing on a larger scale, with volume and lots of fabric. Take for instance, Salvatore Ferragamo whose generous amount of fabric swept across the model’s camouflaged body, sometimes secured by a loose belt or cinched in at the hip by a metallic D- ring, bringingt a very relaxed and effortless look. On a similar note, Gucci’s billowing togas and multi-coloured caftan dresses and Max Mara’s air blown jumpsuits, with excessive amounts of fabric were a little overwhelming, bearing in mind the current credit crisis.

Despite this, fabric did eventually become firmer, silhouettes altered in shape and the form of the female body was once again emphasized with good tailoring and experimental silhouettes.

Through the use of ultra- modern fabric and shining jewels, designers at Milan Fashion Week, like London looked more into the future (perhaps far beyond the current credit crisis) and focused on tulip shaped skirts, origami pleats and round structured shoulders, emphasizing high-tech and robotic looking outfits.
A perfect example was illustrated in the Gianfranco Ferré show, whose duo designers Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi excelled their debut collection with metallic armored shoulders. Fendi created bell shaped dresses, cinch-waist silhouettes and spiderweb sculptured skirts styled with sheer Victorian blouses.
Similarly, this concept was exemplified at Iceberg; emphasized female forms with large round shouldered jackets, structured mini dresses and curvy skirts gathered tightly at the waist with an equally large black belt.

Attitude and power could be a good way of describing this sci-fi and ultramodern concept, which was repeated throughout the shows in Milan such as Emilio Pucci and Versace, who also favoured this look. In the same way, colour and fabric was all influenced by this futuristic vision, metallic (like New York) and sequined--spotted at La Perla and at Emilio Pucci. Prada used crunched silk on a silver and gold pencil skirts.

So before we say Ciao Bella to Milan and Bonjour to Paris, I leave thinking that the designers at Milan Fashion Week have become visionaries who have masterfully fused Italian luxury with avant-garde cuts and high tech designs.
If the heart of Italian fashion is filled with their yearn for glamour and everything fabulous, their mind is focused on the awareness of today’s fast development in fabric, technology and colour which acts as their essential tool that helps to keep them moving forward into the future of design, while maintaining its place as one of the most important fashion capitals of the world.