Weekly Feature

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Alberto Pellaschiar/AP

Roundup of Fashion Week Fall 2009: Milan

March 05, 2009
by Liz Colville
Milan Fashion Week is arguably the most luxurious fashion and accessories showcase of all the fashion weeks. Italian fashion design is known for timeless pieces and the use of rich fabrics and fur. Fall 2009 spoke to these traditions, somewhat more—but not too much more—conservatively than usual.

The Essence of Milan Fashion Week

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Milan Fashion Week is the stage for some of the most glamorous and expensive fashion labels in the world. Miuccia Prada, Emilio Pucci and Dolce & Gabbana are just three household names that routinely bring the “bling” to Milan’s twice-yearly spectacle.

Responding to the Recession

While the designers at London Fashion Week appeared to be “sticking two fingers at the recession,” Milan has taken on the financial crisis in its own way: appealing to the Italian government for a bailout. Claudio Scajola, Italy’s minister of economic development, recently announced that the “first interventions” to help resuscitate the fashion sector will be in place by the middle of March.

The Shows Must Go On

On the runway and in showrooms, the message was clear: the recession can be overcome, not simply by maintaining a “show must go on” mentality, but by creating resilient, timeless clothing in place of “throwaway fashion.”

For example Cathy Horyn of The New York Times observed in her blog On the Runway that Prada’s models sported boots resembling rubber, but actually made of a far more expensive material: leather. More expensive, yes, but also longer lasting.

Italian designer Roberto Cavalli told Reuters that he plans to confront the financial crisis head on: “I have declared war on the crisis. I am an optimist.” Another way to combat high costs was to follow the mode set at New York’s Fashion Week and favor presentations instead of runway shows, thus saving production time, effort and money.

Notable Trends in Milan

Miuccia Prada, the “godmother of fashion,” frequently sets the tone at Milan Fashion Week. As the Times of London noted, this year Prada was emphasizing the conservative with “sensible, Princess-Margaret-circa-1948 matching tweed ensembles composed of cinched-in jackets with generous peplums and full, knee-length skirts, slashed and with flaps.”

Not everyone went for simple, workplace-ready items. At Dolce & Gabbana, models were dressed up like gifts in short, patterned dresses topped with big, sleek bows and cake-icing-like details. Dresses came in all patterns, including polka dots, stripes, and feline and reptilian prints. Emporio Armani, Fendi, Gianfranco Ferré and many others adhered closely to palettes of beige, gray and black. Fur, ever the controversial choice, came mostly in black and other deep colors like blue and purple. It appeared on coats, earmuffs, hats and jackets at Marni or at Iceberg, as a giant blue jacket collar at Emilio Pucci and an enveloping short purple jacket at D&G.

For more trendspotting and visuals, consult with New York Magazine’s fashion section to rate hits and misses, view slideshows, read news and opinion pieces about the shows and create look books. Click on the Milan tab below the center image to view a list of all Milan shows.

View Style.com’s section on Milan Fashion Week for slideshows of the runways, and the Fall 2009 Ready-to-Wear section for photos of shows, parties and street wear spotted at all four fashion weeks.
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