With New York and London behind us, it’s time to take a look at some of the top collections from Milan Fashion Week. Our favorites were chosen for their forward-thinking design sensibilities and the potential for wide commercial appeal (great casting didn’t hurt either). – Adrian Brinkley
To describe Belgian designer Raf Simons as a genius would be a severe understatement . The collections he creates for his own eponymous line as well as those he designs for Jil Sander each season are, in reality, nothing short of perfection. The abstract inspiration, the marvelous tailoring – both have become his signatures and yet he continually finds new ways to impress his audience and entice women everywhere. Set against an all-white runway with blue and yellow staging as a backdrop, Simons opened the show with a series of white dresses which seemed almost clinical until one was layered underneath an open knit black dress, instantly transforming it into something completely different. What followed was a slew of multicolor paisley, gingham dresses and Modernist sweaters featuring Picasso-esque prints. Toward the show’s finale, Simons wowed his audience with an exceptionally tailored sleeveless white dress which was worn by an equally exceptional (and stunningly beautiful) Natasha Poly.
Since tapping British designer Christoper Kane back in 2009 to co-design alongside Donatella Versace, Versus has undergone a complete transformation and, within a course of only four seasons, has gone from being nearly extinct to becoming one of the must-see collections at Milan Fashion Week. Having been cheered on by buyers, editors and red carpet celebrity stylists alike, it’s quite likely that Christopher and Donatella took those cheers literally as they staged their Spring/Summer 2012 collection on a basketball-inspired runway. Complete with a full court, fringed skirts and cheerleaders (or so they seemed), the collection was one of the most elegant and feminine interpretations of athletic wear we’ve ever seen (sorry, Wang). Using a delicate chiffon fabric in lilac-hued colors, the clothes seemed highly wearable and the silhouettes were extremely flattering. Although the majority of pieces weren’t as red carpet-friendly as previous Versus collections, we expect to see them in plenty of editorials come next Spring.
Anyone who’s ever spent an extended period of time in Italy can attest to the fact that Italian gentlemen have two great quintessential loves: women and cars. It was only fitting, then, that Muiccia Prada referrenced them for inspiration for her Spring/Summer 2012 collection. Echoing a main theme from Prada’s men’s show earlier this summer, the women’s collection featured an array of bright, bold prints (from the shirts to the coats, nearly every garment was covered in them). Never one to follow the trends, Muiccia seems intent on setting them, looking back to the 1950s to resurrect various silhouettes and shapes. From the demure housewife with perfect pleats to the sexy pin-up girls in their bandau tops (model Abbey Lee Kershaw personified that character perfectly), the look presented by Prada this season was a breath of fresh air.
Dolce & Gabbana
Despite the fate of D&G (the diffusion line is being folded into the main collection), Dolce & Gabbana is still going strong. For Spring/Summer 2012, the house presented a collection full of bold prints (a recurring theme for the season if you haven’t noticed). Zucchinis, hot peppers and tomatoes found themselves adorning summery dresses which were fittingly paired with woven, basket-like purses. Although we’ve seen the theme before (Prada presented a fruit-themed collection last season as did Moschino Cheap and Chic the night before), Dolce & Gabbana placed a specific emphasis on their silhouette, highlighting the waist with stomach-baring tops and nipped skirts before ending the show with an elegant, bejeweled finale.