MILAN — Two schools of fashion are emanating from Milan this week.
The new school, as it's been dubbed, is anti-glamour-and-glitz. Colors are murky, shoulders are sloped, tailoring is passe. The aim is to purify shape, eliminate frills, and play with fabric as if it were clay. They're a cerebral lot, and often a playful one. Sometimes you can almost hear the designers' minds clicking as models walk the runway in their clothes.
Romeo Gigli, leader of the pack, showed his own collection early in the week, and his slightly more commercial line for Callaghan on Wednesday.
The long, exotic, bubble skirts were there, sometimes topped with bodices that looked like mummy wrapping, at other times with blouses as voluminously bubbled as the skirts. The play of shapes, drapes and textures was odd and fascinating. One outfit consisted of an oversized, drop shoulder, coarsely knit brown sweater over a wide, pea-green, ankle-length dirndl skirt embroidered with a brightly colored motif.
Also applauded was Gigli's offbeat-shade-of-red taffeta bubble top, which came down to the hip over a short and slim black skirt.
Other new school names of the week include Dolce E Gabbana, an up-and-coming knitwear firm specializing in beautifully simple shapes and playful multipurpose items that can shape and drape a number of different ways.
Muriel Grateau for Complice is an old hand at Milan design, but her unadorned, graceful, body hugging bodices with gentle skirts place her in the new school this season. Her black velvet dresses, slim and narrow from shoulders to midcalf were shown with no jewelry, flat shoes and the models hair worn pulled back off their faces.
Gianfranco Ferre, on the other hand, exemplifies the Establishment in Milan. He does the sleek, architectural signora clothes worn by women with glamour, status and money. Princess Caroline sat ringside at his show, in a slim-skirted Ferre suit tailored exactly to her station in life. The silhouette was sharp and commanding: impeccable shoulders tapering to a long, narrow jacket with bright buttons marching down the front.
This season, Ferre chooses bright colors in the cerise, cherry and Schiaparelli pink categories to blend with white, navy or black. He offers rib-knit sweater-jackets, lots of pants (including black ones with pink satin stripes down the sides) and luxurious fabrics such as mohair, cashmere and alpaca.
A Hit on His Hands
Mario Valentino leathers are now designed by Toshi Moon, who has a hit on his hands with this fall collection. It's all short, sexy and slim except for coats that swing out front and back. Fendi too has swingy coats. In fact, some are full circles that barely hit the knee. The firm's fall look, by Karl Lagerfeld, features long or short swing-back shapes, most notably in a striped effect of shiny and dull black ermine.
Byblos falls into no defined category. The young and clever line by Keith Varty and Alan Cleaver features short skating skirts last seen at ice rinks in the '50s; short pleated tartan miniskirts with shiny black quilted boleros; long sporty pleated skirts and '50s style red or green tartan plaid pants with white ski sweaters embroidered with flowers. Cutest in the pack was the very short black velvet skating dress with a shiny black quilted band at the hem and a matching quilted bolero.