Reinterpreting Classics. Miu Miu SS23

Miuccia Prada, with a Miu Miu show on the last day of Paris Fashion Week, proved that she knows where she’s going – comparing to other designers and brands, big and small, who in majority presented some of the mildest and direction-less collections in years. Even though Miu Miu orbits around a similar theme for the third season in a row, it’s refreshing to see Prada’s “sister” brand in such assertive and distinct mode. Those mini-skirts are still going strong, just like leathers in various shades of browns and beiges. Corporate tailoring continues to be aggressively cut-up and raw. But there are a couple of novelties that will definitely become the next Miu best-sellers (and are both easy styling tips as well as vintage shopping inspirations). A gray cap-sleeved T-shirt worn over a beige jumper worn over a gray long-sleeved T-shirt worn over a white T-shirt, they were all very ordinary garments, but certainly delivered a mood. And styled this way, they didn’t look so normal at all. “I’m very serious but also fun. I am both,” Miuccia said backstage of the show. That duality was reflected in this line-up. She showed some clothes so simple they weren’t clothes at all: primitively cut fabrics fixed to the body with fastenings, like an apron skirt tied at the hip or pieces of nylon fashioned into ponchos, dresses and skirts with drawstrings. Strands of nylon were tied around the lower hip of pleated skirts with drawstrings and worn like cummerbunds, and a bandeau top held together by a nylon strap with a plastic clip buckle seemed to have been repurposed from the performance wardrobe. Miu Miu is on a roll, delivering a kind of fashion that resonates with the sexy, subversive, product-focused tastes of the digital generations – even through a simplified lens. Prada framed her show in fittingly odd projections by Chinese artist Shuang Li, who had sharks bouncing off planets and walls, and a soundtrack featuring a spoken-word love poem by the same artist. If there was an upbeat mood in the room, it came from above. “I went through a really… friends died and so on,” Prada said. “Recently, I’m in a good mood, for personal happenings for my friends.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Gothic Mermaids. Blumarine SS23

Blumarine‘s Nicola Brognano keeps on digging deep into the 2000s nostalgia, but for spring-summer 2023, the designer switched the attitude: from girly to femme, from roses to crosses, from flimsy Lolita-esque dresses to tight-fitting, liquid silhouettes. Also, the Blumarine woman went underwater, becoming an IRL mermaid. In his childhood, Brognano was obsessed with The Little Mermaid cartoon. “I watched it on repeat so many times that the VHS got destroyed,” he said. But what is it about the Little Mermaid that so enthralled Brognano? “She was a redhead like my mother, and I loved the way she was dressed, all those eye-popping colors. I remember a minidress that was exactly a cartoon version of a Versace metal mesh number.” The glamorous mermaid look evidently stuck, but for spring, Brognano turned it into a darker, gothic representation, “intriguing and sexier, less pop, much dirtier.” The image of the Blumarine girl seems to be submitted to a constant process of mutation into ever-evolving versions of herself. A plethora of sexy numbers in luscious jersey contoured every curve, flaring into extra-long trains trailing on the sandy floor of the show’s set, which was scattered with shells and bathed in aquarium-blue light. With similar conviction, the Blumarine mermaid was provided with endless variations of True-Religion-esque denim trousers and cargos, whose hems opened into flares so wide or into undulating ruffles so humongous they almost seemed to crawl behind the models. Midriff-baring was de rigueur; being the ubiquitous trend’s instigator, Brognano just owned it with nonchalance, offering shell-shaped bras in oxidized metal paired with extremely low-slung denim flares or cargo-skirt hybrids. In the Blumarine seasonal mutation into gothic marine creature, the crystal-studded cross replaced the rose, one of the label’s symbols of voluptuous sensuality, here reduced to a few timid rosettes gathering the draping of figure-hugging minidresses. In Brognano’s ongoing identity shaping, drama takes the place of innocent flirting, and romanticism has darker, erotic undertones.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Tinged With Sass. Blumarine Resort 2023

Nicola Brognano slightly shifted the Blumarine look for resort 2023, “toning down the bling”. What stayed firmly in place, however, was the Y2K inspo that triggered the attention this brand has been getting lately. Sticking to your guns is always a good move if a designer wants to cut a consistent position in the fashion firmament. That’s what Brognano seems to be consistenly pursuing. The designer, who by his own admission has no affinity for talking about inspirations or references, said that he now has a tougher, less pretty image of the Blumarine woman in his mind. To summarize: her mood as of now is more street than saucy, more femme than Lolita. No surprise though that Brognano’s take on streetwear is tinged with sass. New additions to the Blumarine wardrobe were sexy ribbed tank tops with a refreshed goth logo; cool ultra-cropped sweats with hoodies layered liberally over or under those tank tops; oversized poplin shirts turned into outrageously-mini ruffled dresses; and various iterations of the multi-pocketed cargo pants that have become one of Blumarine’s signatures. They were proposed in liquid satin in a bright shade of turquoise, worn with a matching belted duster, and a barely-there bra showing vast expanses of bare midriff, while in their newest version they came printed with a camo motif that was actually a trompe l’oeil rose. Amping up the collection’s more urban, utilitarian vibe, the ubiquitous cargos morphed into motorcycle pants in pale denim-colored distressed leather, or were worn under maxi crocheted cardis and long slouchy chiffon slipdresses. Brognano offered proof of a versatile approach, and that he has enough nerve to play with Blumarine’s range with confidence.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Sensual Allure. Blumarine AW22

Helmut Newton’s spirit hovered over the Blumarine show. “Always loved his work, how can you not? Always been one of my heroes,” said Nicola Brognano backstage. Newton lensed memorable advertising campaigns for Blumarine; one of the best was shot in 1995, with a young Eva Herzigova clad in a skintight black satin number, slit high to reveal her fabulous legs. Brognano had Herzigova, still breathtakingly gorgeous at 48, close today’s show, nicely coming full circle. You cannot reference Helmut Newton without conjuring dark, sultry atmospheres of intrigue. Brognano is prodding the girly Blumarine ingénue to enter grown-up territory. “She’s more femme and sexual,” he said. His co-conspirator, über-stylist Lotta Volkova, chimed in: “She isn’t so pretty and girly anymore – or at least not only. She has grown into a strong, sexy woman, in command of her body, and powerful. She is a glamorous vamp.” Nocturnal and provocative, the collection was paraded by a cast diverse in age and body type, reflecting the image shift. Lila Moss, Euphoria’s Chloe Cherry, and Mini Anden were among various beautiful curvy figures and willowy, slender silhouettes: all looked equally alluring, clad in a series of skintight, draped micro dresses, each one slinkier, sexier, and skimpier than the other. A bold palette of black, red and purple signaled an erotic detour from the candy pinks and powdery baby blues favored by Blumarine’s teen incarnation. Sweeping long black coats, shapely and nipped at the waist, looked dramatic; in Newton-esque style, faces were sometimes veiled, eyes hidden behind dark glasses. A catsuit in black patent leather with a built-in bustier had an obvious fetish allure; the see-through top with breast-hiding velvet hearts worn by Herzigova in the Newton campaign was remade, as an homage to the Blumarine’s heyday.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

I Feel Like A Butterfly. Blumarine SS22

In just a few seasons, Nicola Brognano (with Lotta Volkova’s styling help) has flipped and twisted one of the sleepiest brands in Milan and transformed it into a 2000s-era e-girl nostalgia heaven. Blumarine last had such success in the end of the 90s and the beginning of the millenium, when nothing seemed better than rhinestone butterflies, sexy ruffles and lots, lots of denim. It’s 2021, and ironically, that’s what the TikTok generation loves and needs in their lives. Yet when asked backstage about his inspiration for spring, Brognano said “no one in particular really“. He knows that what matters is inundating social media accounts with the brassy swagger of all the skimpy, hotter-than-hot pants trotting on stilettos on the catwalk today, as well as the risqué fringed and beaded bikinis barely covered by a cropped cardi trimmed in regenerated mink or crocheted in fluoro recycled poly, or the see-through chiffon cargo pants with midriff-baring matching tops in eye-popping Day Glo colors. The co-conspirator in Brognano’s implacable turnaround is Volkova, who was busy backstage before the show shepherding models into a not-too-orderly lineup. Dressed in a whisper of a dress in pale pink stretchy gauze and chaperoned by her gallant, elegantly groomed black poodle Dimitri, Lotta fired off a barrage of her own takes on Blumarine’s new fundamentals: “Military Fairies. Sexy Butterfly girls. Frivolous and fun early Y2K mood when social media wasn’t on the horizon. Denim patchwork queens. Trippy, psychedelic, neon girls. Red carpet denim prints, red carpet bandanas. Low-waisted mermaids.” Love it or hate it, but that kind of Blumarine seems to be timeless.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.