The Contrasts. Prada AW20

This season, Prada was about contrasts, which actually create an equilibrum. “We can be strong and feminine at the same time… women carry the weight now.Miuccia Prada was insistent: delicacy and frivolity are not antithetical to power. Finally somebody said that out loud, in the language of fashion. Beads, silks, fringes, the “clichés of femininity,” as she described them, accompanied pieces traditionally considered masculine. A boxy belted jacket was paired with a fringed skirt, while classic bib-front shirts were glammed up with skeins of crystals suspended from the shoulders. Basketball jerseys got a similar treatment, elongated to the knee and then accessorized with ropes of beads and sneaker-boot hybrids. For Prada-ists, this collection is a great retrospective of some of Miuccia’s big hits – especially autumn-winter 2017, autumn-winter 2015, spring-summer 2014 and autumn-winter 2009 – which were patchworked into something new. Prada’s vocabulary is so wide and distinct that there’s no wonder why she is bringing some ideas back to her work.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Io Sono L’Amore. Zanini AW20

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Marco Zanini‘s small, name-sake label launched a year ago, and though the challenges are constant, he now finds himself with a roster of top boutiques around the world and the kind of personal satisfaction that comes from doing precisely what he wants after many years of working for other companies. This also is reflected in the garments: there’s no compromising at Zanini. Not on materials, not on the finishings on the inside of the garments, and definitely not on his silhouettes. For autumn-winter 2020, Zanini’s interest turned to traditional English wool flannels, which he cut into mannish two- and three-piece suits that he lined in white linen. Another wool jacket and matching full skirt were lightly hand-quilted. The thick cashmere knit worn with another big skirt looked just perfect, worn with a cameo necklace and a cotton poplin shirt underneath. Very, very Milanesa. This collection made me think of Luca Guadagnino’s masterpiece “I Am Love”,  starring Tilda Swinton as Emma. I can see Zanini’s delightful silk eveningwear worn around the wonderful Villa Necchi Campiglio and his daywear being Emma’s day-to-day basics. And in our reality, Marco’s brand is gradually stealing hearts of clients who don’t need logos and one-season statements, but want a garment that will forever feel luxurious and beautiful.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Soft Minimalist Femininity. Jil Sander AW20

Lucie and Luke Meier‘s Jil Sander for autumn-winter 2020 is, simply speaking, beautiful. It’s the peak condensation of the aesthetic they’ve created at the label: soft, minimalist femininity. The knitted dress hug the body, the over-sized tailoring guards the wearer, the blanket-like, fleecy throws bring comfort and warmth… everything’s a delight. The show was staged with wooden chairs arranged in a round-edge rectangle in the center of the runway: the models walked the perimeter and took their seats. Backstage, Lucie and Luke talked about capturing movement and emotion, and the sense of stillness the models inhabited set off both. The Meiers practice a more considered, tranquile sort of fashion, one that puts primacy over noisy Insta-moments. What’s not to love about it?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Ritual. Gucci AW20

For a good start of Milan fashion week, at the very beginning of the Gucci show, the curtain was pulled back on the frenzied sort of preparations that typically happen backstage of any runway presentation. On a rotating carousel, bathrobe-clad models were quickly trussed and styled by fleets of dressers in gray Gucci smocks before taking their place along the stage’s edge. The vintage-feeling clothes, which included big hats and opera gloves, were no less theatrical – there were frilly baby-doll dresses, bell-bottom suits in pastels and baroquely ruffled ball gowns, inspired, said Gucci’s Alessandro Michele, by the idea of a mother dressing her child for a special occasion. What truly appealed to me in this show is Michele’s embrace of the dress-up ritual. It can be spontaneous, planned, conscious or unconscious, one day you can look like Janis Joplin, another be a goth lolita, and then on Friday be the S&M-version of Marie Antoinette. The opening look perfecly showed the theme of the collection: a confused-looking model in one of those gowns, with a chunky knitted sweater over her head.

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Men’s – Rave Like You Are Five. Gucci AW20

A huge pendulum ticktocked back and forth, drawing a line in the sand beneath it. The mood felt far more sober that usual. Time for reflection? “Fashion is a sort of clock,” Alessando Michele rightly observed after his  Gucci autumn-winter 2020 collection for men. Michele’s very first show – of a collection assembled in only five days after Frida Gianini’s abrupt departure – was held at the Milan menswear week in January 2015. And who would have thought it’s impact will be this big – not only for Gucci, but fashion in general? Michele referred back to that first collection – the open-back kangaroo-lined loafers that were his first big accessories hit were among the footwear in the new collection. But this was not self-reference for the sake of it. “I haven’t got any nostalgia,” he said. “I don’t cling to the past…. I use the past because the past is a very interesting space.” Grannyish knits and David Bowie-ish metallic flares, Kurt Cobain-ish grungy ’90s denim and a Courtney Love-ish leopard-print coat. Those were the first references that came to mind. And the tongue-in-cheek title of the show – ‘Rave Like You Are Five’? Most of the clothes were styled the way children wear their clothes when parents aren’t around: the way they like, not the way they areobliged to. Michele was also exploring the big idea of the season: an emphasis on the potential boundarylessness of masculinity rather than its long-constructed boundaries. “This is not a narrative that excludes or rules out mainstream masculinity; on the contrary, I want to talk about how complex it is to be a man. And this means growing up maybe in a different way because the world of men is very diverse and full of different elements like the feminine world.” But what I enjoyed the most in this collection was the lack of the Gucci-fied over-the-topness (which the designer signalised for the first time in his spring-summer 2020 line-up). Without all the drowning opulence that Michele made us used to in the last couple of years, you really feel and see his pure aesthetic.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.