Milan Fashion Week: Empowerment, Feminism, Amore

Wed, 27 September 2017

Finally, some real drama arrived at the fashion circus. And with it came powerful messages about inequality, politics and womanhood – rounded off with glitter, leopard print and retro fanny packs.

Marni and Gucci presented glitzy sheer dresses, crystal-studded sunglasses and embellished fishnet tights; Moschino transformed Gigi & Co. into human flower bouquets; Dolce and Gabbana paid an extravagant tribute to amore; and Stella Jean called attention to Bolivia’s indigenous culture. The colours were bold and the details intricate. Come spring, designers such as Marco de Vincenzo insist we wear killer red and flares – preferably with golden slippers.

As in Copenhagen and New York, Milan’s palazzos, teatros and piazzas were dotted with suits. From a beige pinstriped power version at Jil Sander to a bright-pink ensemble at Dolce & Gabbana and Warhol-print catsuits at Versace, they had one message: suit up and embrace your femininity.

But it’s not just the looks that were punchy; declarations abounded loud and clear, with Miuccia Prada at the forefront. Addressing her anger towards amounting threats to women’s rights – gender pay gap, body shaming and discrimination – the Milanese designer sent an army of female militants down the runway. Bold shapes, sharp kitten-heel slingbacks, studded sleeves, cat-eye shades and leopard brocade marched against walls plastered with comic drawings of women’s faces and were not here to please the male gaze: they screamed empowerment.

Donatella Versace similarly united fashion with provocation. On the 20th anniversary of her brother Gianni’s murder, she powerfully reinvented his 1991-95 collections with boxy silhouettes, strong colours and eclectic prints.

Another family tale was told by Veronica and Kean Etro. The brother-and-sister duo’s comprehensive, dazzling collection of embroidered jacquard jackets, velvet robes, chiffon maxi dresses and the brand’s signature paisley pattern was inspired by their father’s love of India. Following monochrome opening looks, the collection culminated in saturated hues, introducing stories of diversity and multiculturalism to the light-filled space.

Finally, there was Philosophy. Dressed in breezy, white-cotton dresses, angel-like models walked to Boy George’s “War Song” – a clear call for peace from designer Lorenzo Serafini. In contrast, the main collection was a flawless declaration of beauty: highlights include flowing dresses combined with metal-studded-belts and bright leather, as well as denim jumpsuits paired with cotton shirts and silky handkerchiefs effortlessly tied around the models’ necks.

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