As I bid arrivederci to Milan Fashion Week, I was struck deeply by how impactful the Spring/Summer 2016 collections have been. #MFW is not typically known for leading the fashion pack, but it has always been a reliable source of luxurious, glamorous clothes for the ladies-who-lunch crowd. That notion was completely turned on its head this season due to a fresh infusion of new outlooks at storied brands like Gucci, Tod’s, and Dolce & Gabbana. Add to that the crop of new Creative Directors at Roberto Cavalli, Emilio Pucci, and Iceberg, and it becomes abundantly clear that an Italian fashion renaissance is underway.
As a veteran runway reporter, I’ve come to know every brand’s aesthetic, so I usually enter each review with a standard set of expectations. This time around, my expectations were defied in unexpected and absolutely thrilling ways. A new generation of designers is paving the way for bold, daring fashion that speaks to the millennial generation and its image obsession. I reveled in Milan’s cutting-edge design and found delightful looks in every single collection I reviewed, which made whittling the list down to my top five favorites rather difficult.
For insight into what I believe to be the best collections of Spring/Summer 2016 Milan Fashion Week, click through the gallery.
Photos: Courtesy of Getty Images and GoRunway
Okay, I’ll be honest: I really don’t like paisley, and unfortunately paisley is Etro’s signature print. This time around, however, Etro created some of the most beautiful, romantic clothes of Milan Fashion Week. Suspended in a magical assortment of gleaming, embellished textiles, Etro’s delicate gypsy looks were paired with surprisingly sporty elements, like printed varsity jackets, and the collection’s palette moved from radiant neutrals to alluring peacock hues. The clothes were so lovely, magnetic, and feminine that I completely forgot about my paisley-phobia.
Spring/Summer 2016 will likely be remembered forever as the season that Gucci got its groove back. Under Alessandro Michele’s direction, the brand has completely revolutionized its aesthetic. This collection was ridiculously hip (in a good way), with amazing textile and pattern mash-ups that imbued each look with a retro spirit (Michele dubbed the look “fake vintage”). Topped with berets and nerdy glasses, the guys and girls of Gucci have never been more off the rails or more fashion forward, for that matter.
Layers typically feel so safe and protective, but at Marni they were used strategically to create an artistic silhouette that was dangerously cool. It was a big departure from the fur-trimmed luxe of last season, but the abstract expressionism of the brand’s major silhouettes and sophisticated asymmetry made avant-garde clothing feel wonderfully futuristic. If you love to flaunt your creative side, Marni is going to be your new obsession.
Of all the shows at #MFW, I think Tod’s had the most interesting mix of styles. The brand captured the kind of louche “athleisure” look that is so covetably cool with perforated leather lounge pants, leather appliquéd jackets, sporty jumpsuits, striped suiting, and off-shoulder necklines. I loved the androgynous feel of Tod’s silhouette, which was relaxed and extremely wearable. The problem with statement trends and in-your-face styling is that the clothes end up wearing you. Fortunately, this was not the case at Tod’s, where comfort struck a perfect balance with edgy tailoring.
Dolce & Gabbana
Dolce & Gabbana is forever paying homage to something Italian: Italian mothers, the Catholic church, and the designers’ hometown of Sicily. This time around, it payed its respects to the country of Italy as a whole and, while the narrative is always kind of gimmicky, the clothes were wonderful and beautifully appointed with heritage fabrics, hand embroidery, and floral embellishment. This new mood invigorated the presentation, with models skittering down the runway taking selfies in a nod to the Insta-generation. It was nice to see such a legendary brand take a turn for the youthful.