milan fashion week trend alert: elegance
What’s the trend for spring/summer 17? On the second day of shows in Milan, Fendi, Prada, and Moschino gave an elegant answer.
When, this summer, I had to make a pit stop at a family event between the men's shows in Milan and Paris, guests came at me with that classic question: "What are the trends, then? What should we be wearing next season?" Bewildered, I had to ask myself the same thing. Going to the shows these days isn't like it was just five or ten years ago when you'd easily start to detect certain trends through the runways of the fashion capitals — from hemlines to heel heights, and themes much bigger than that. "The trend for dresses continues," someone wrote on Instagram during the London shows last week, but surely fashion can still do better than that? Faced with a dire global situation, designers are reacting in such different ways to the bleak mood of the world that it's either expressed in awesome lavishness or ascetic simplicity. Thursday in Milan was the perfect example of this. At Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld turned to delicate, elfin opulence in a graceful rococo collection of faint pastels and girly splendor, the Marie Antoinette way. Their lips painted in metallics, his women looked like porcelain figurines from Meissen or the glass ornaments of a type case. In fashion, far-reaching historical references are most often classified as escapism: a designer's fairytale dream of an ideal world.
Looking at Lagerfeld's irresistible lightness — in mood and in the physical presence and movement of garments — you couldn't help but join in the dream weaving. Miuccia Prada's collection in the evening had lightness to it, too, but drawing that parallel would be a trend box too easily ticked. Here there was little opulence — instead, Prada stripped down her canvas to the point of the unexpected. "It's doing something much more simple and trying to find a new way of elegance," she said backstage. "Elegance sounds like an old-fashioned word, but it's the sense of something meaningful and cultivated. It's a moment of something intimate and real. I tried to make it in a way that it's contemporary." It was her immediate reaction to the world around her, and one that somehow didn't call for opulence this time, except perhaps from the marabou feathers that gilded the edges of her sporty, minimal garments. In all its downplayed straightforwardness, there was something eerie about Prada's collection — something a little bit unnerving. Where Lagerfeld's lavishness — light and ethereal as it was — had that comforting, dreamy quality about it, the starkness of Prada's simplicity was confrontational. Emotionally exposing.
If you had to derive a trend from the spring/summer 17 offerings of these two designer legends on Thursday in Milan, it would be elegance. Nothing could sound like more of a fashion cliché (I mean, don't we always strive for elegance?) but this season was meant, perhaps, on a broader horizon. Fendi and Prada's message wasn't simply fashionable elegance, it was behavioral elegance — an elegant way of dealing with an unpleasant world. Try explaining that one to provincial guests at a family gathering wanting to know about trends and you'll soon wish you'd just said "pastel colors and feathers" instead. Maybe it would have been easier to explain Jeremy Scott's collection for Moschino on Thursday evening, which wasn't the hospital-themed extravaganza the pill glass invitation led you to believe, but a somewhat Parisian salon show of living paper dolls complete with life-sized folding tabs sticking out from the seams of their dresses. Scott layered the reference, sometimes using dresses as canvasses for printed-on dress motifs trompe l'oeil style, at other times alluding to it in two-dimensional dresses that looked, from the front, as if they'd been cut out of paper. You could say the Moschino theme was elegant in itself, and for the sake of establishing the first trend of the season, why the hell not.
Text Anders Christian Madsen