the art of seduction with bottega veneta and philosophy at milan fashion week
On Saturday in Milan, Bottega Veneta and Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini defined the autumn/winter 17 season's seductive feminine glamour.
bottega veneta fall/winter 17
There's something about trying times and glamour: an electric chemistry between the two, which is always expressed in fashion. It's that old chestnut about creativity thriving in times of upheaval, a need for escapism and so on. Glamour, by way of seduction, has taken the shows in Milan by storm this season. Miuccia Prada talked about it backstage on Thursday. "My point is seduction," she said. "How seduction is necessary." You could interpret that as fashion's duty to seduce the consumer, or you could come at it from the wearer's perspective—the notion of the compelling seductress. On Friday, Donatella Versace dedicated her show to the new battle for equality in a Trump-tastic era where a bunch of old men are making laws about women's abortion rights (or lack thereof). The weapon she came up with—her collection—was super glamorous and really very sexy. Women's fashion was never more seductive than in the war-torn 40s, the decade of power-dressing, where shoulders were magnified, waists minimised and hemlines cut teasingly below the knee.
On Saturday morning, Tomas Maier took that look to sculptural heights in a Bottega Veneta collection of persuasive glamour—the kind we associate with Old Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich and Greta Garbo, whose seductive powers (and interestingly, often mannish sex appeal) turned them into silver screen goddesses worshipped by their male audiences. Bottega Veneta's show, where models like Kendall Jenner and Eva Herzigová were glammed up to the nines, instantly had that same effect. There's just something about the 40s silhouette that totally seduces you as a spectator - male or female - and it was great. Maier's men's collection, which he presented as part of the women's show for the second season, virtually had the opposite effect. His Bottega Veneta man was boyish and elegant, nipped in daintily at the waist in romantic Edwardian tailoring styled with soft dandy-esque bowties. On Maier's runway, men were boy poets and women femmes fatales, and it cemented the message of this Milan season.
In the 50s, Bettie Page took that power balance to a different level in her naughty fetish films, which paved the way for what we now know as BDSM—porn based on men's desire to be dominated. Her sophisticated counterpart was Elizabeth Taylor, who exuded the same authority in a classy way, and commanded her audience like no one before her (or after). She was the first actress to ask for a million dollars for a film, Cleopatra, in 1963. On a visit to Milan in 1972, she arrived characteristically late for at ballet at La Scala, wearing a white turban and fur. Few noticed the ballet had started—they were all outside gauping at the glamorous Taylor, who had the world in the palm of her hand. In his Philosophy show on Saturday evening, Lorenzo Serafini staged a meeting between the screen legend and mod gangs. "It's the two sides to a woman: the strong and the soft, and the tough and the sweet. It was my celebration of female seduction," he said backstage, gesturing at a mood board covered in pictures of Dame Elizabeth.
"When you picture her in your mind, you don't picture her in a dress—you don't remember them. But still her image is so strong and powerful in that glamorous direction. She really embodies glamour at its best. She represents strength to me," he noted, "and right now women are the strength of the world." Serafini's muse was expressed in a prom-y 50s silhouette: super girly tulle skirts and shape-enhancing knits of the kind Taylor would have worn with a boned bustier. At a ball at Buckingham Palace in the late 60s, she wore the famous Krupp Diamond, a gift from Richard Burton. "Isn't it a bit vulgar?" Princess Margaret snarked. "Would you like to try it on, Your Royal Highness?" Taylor asked. The princess put the ring on her finger and was suddenly lost for words. "Not so vulgar now, is it?" Taylor quipped. The Queen of Hollywood, she wasn't afraid of taking on actual royalty. Last month, Serafini dressed the princess, who now carries Taylor's former title as the most photographed woman in the world, the Duchess of Cambridge, in a red naval jacket from his Philosophy Resort 17 collection. It was the perfect statement: the modern princess in modern glamour, and here in Milan that's what it's all about.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams