A major theme rang true and strong across the runways of Milan Fashion Week’s Spring/Summer 2017 shows (September 21–27): Come the spring, a forceful femininity expressed in a clash of contrasts will bloom.
Versace has always been about feminine power, and this season she lives it with unconditional liberty. As the specially written Photonz & Violet soundtrack pumped up the moment, ultra-lightweight nylon was draped and billowy; drawstrings controlled the volume of sleeveless dresses; the mac was cropped; the skirt was worn at a fluid mid-calf; and below-the-knee dresses were liberated by high slashes, pleats and wrapped panels. This is activewear made glamorous, with dynamism and ease of movement central to the silhouette. However, it’s further elevated from the utilitarian with key decorative notes: lace edging left free to ripple in the air, the unique and shimmering fluidity of embroidered Versace crystal chain mail, and the brilliant new guitar strap-inspired ‘Stardust’ bag.
We’ll give the last word on Spring/Summer 2017 to the inimitable Donatella: “This is all about a woman’s freedom: freedom of movement, freedom of activity, freedom to fight for her ideas, freedom to be whomever she wants to be.”
If others were riffing on archetypes of the matriarch, the warrior, or the lover, then Laura Biagiotti was exalting woman’s athleticism and agility in the “game of life.” Taking golf as the inspiration, this collection carried us way beyond the current athleisure trend. Golf balls showed up in print motifs, jewelry, and even in the texture of outsized eyewear; loose silhouettes fluttered with Thirties sports-theme prints; and Argyle patterns and polo tees in colors borrowed from the putting green and the bunker were injected with a fresh and feminine energy. Clever combinations of artisan and technical techniques added swing to Biagiotti’s game, as did the restrained use of crystal embellishment and metallics.
Fausto Puglisi perhaps put it most dramatically. Working with the artistic director of Volterra’s Fortezza Theatre, Armando Punzo, he staged a Shrine of Contrasts. The concept came from a journey home to Southern Italy. While musing on its historical oppression he was inspired by the region’s strong matriarchs. Patterning based on Catholic iconography that had been studded with crystals, plus hand-painted prints evoking 18th-century wallpapers, were everywhere, the Byzantine detail given some relief by his signature color blocking. It was intense, it was vivid, it was a mix of ancient traditions and flights of freedom, and it was full of the explosive passion of Sicily and the colorful exuberance of South Florida. If this is modern woman, we adore her.
There was a flowering of ideal womanhood at San Andres Milano, too, when Mexican designer and Creative Director Andres Caballero turned his attention to what he imagined as her inner life. Rose-petal lips and heart-shaped crystallized jewels and appliqués were said to cherish intimacy and true love. This was an introspective sentiment made all the more conspicuous when worn against a brilliantly assertive palette of sky blue, bougainvillea pink, emerald green, plus black and white. Clean silhouettes and clever tailoring that maintained an effortless movement kept it just the right side of emphatic.