Transiting through from Pitti, where you’ll see nary a logo in sight and traditional houses opting again for a more relaxed and “sporty” (for them) direction, to Milan Fashion Week where the designers here are also heading into… don’t say it… a ‘quieter’ direction.
This approach means expression and identity through fashion is much more than a short-term obsession with the latest monogram, and instead informs deeper thoughts about shape, colour, silhouette and the ‘rules’ that have gone before. It seems everyone is revisiting the past to help their future, and when it comes to ‘sustainability’, the houses here rarely shout from the rooftops. They whisper, and may even gloat that this is the way ‘we’ve always done things’ – locally produced, timeless styles with the best natural materials Italy has to offer.
Gucci celebrated the 70th anniversary of its horsebit with a presentation, of sorts. Spazio Maiocchi played host to The Horsebeat Society where guests felt as if they had entered a meeting at the Gucci clan in the 70s (1970 and 2070), as 10 emerging artists’ interpretations of the horsebit surrounded the courtyard. From a cinema room to a full furry bedroom, with a digital horsebit monogram carpet throughout, the subtle star of the showcase was a dangling patent red loafer from Tom Ford’s fall 1995 collection.
A table of literal legs and feet – each wearing the iconic loafer – slalomed through the space, leading your attention eventually to a room with garments. References of Gucci monograms and the horsebit were reimagined in everything from jewellery to jeans, washed but not washed, laser-printed onto the denim.
Tailoring dominated the collection – the opening look featured a double-breasted Prince of Wales check three-piece suit with the horsebit at the intersections. Soft but strong, and relaxed yet smart, another three-piece followed in cream and in black with a pin-stripe dispersed with the GG logo. Both were styled bare-chest with the signature strong shoulder and shortened sleeve. Other pieces were worn as separates, boot-cut jeans with a long-line overcoat.
Contrasting the nostalgia-tinged aesthetic was a futuristic reflective oversized two-piece fit for a future Apollo Mission, monogram towelling shorts set, and a technical poncho accessorised with matching skateboard. This was a fresh reimagining of a well-loved classic, and a lighthearted look back on Gucci’s signatures, as the brand moves ahead with its new creative direction in September under Sabato De Sarno.
This latest collection was a message to people who would say you can’t wear suits in summer. A celebration of gentleness and Mediterranean craft, with light tones and breezy short suits styled with sweaters tied around waists and silk scarves covering open chests. Gingham print coats partnered check shirts, and chunky knitwear in baby blue and cream showed you how to keep warm in the cooler summer evenings. There’s also a recurring theme of men in pink and plumb this season, and I absolutely don’t mind it.
Quite possibly the most alluring location of any presentation in Milan, Brioni staged a still-life set-up on the terrace of a 29th floor apartment, complete with 360-degree views of the city and a water feature with stepping stones resembling a mannequin version of a Slim Aarons photoshoot. Norbert Stumpfl and the Brioni team even brought most of the garden with them, designing the space and curating a romantic scene surrounded by nature.
Stumpfl’s Brioni collections are on another level. The craftsmanship is tangible and he creates tactile clothing that should be felt and caressed. The brand’s formalwear is among the best in the world and yet the casual takes are equally as impressive and of the same elevation. Lightness becomes lighter, as the brushed cotton, silks and cashmere flow in the breeze, exposing the lining and attention to detail in the everyday garments, which still have tailoring at their core.
Stumpfl himself embodies his philosophy, and could be seen wearing an unstructured, green solaro double-breasted jacket but with the herringbone removed, made in cashmere and silk, the light slipping over it as it exposes the green slithers. Stumpfl wants his clothes to be lived in and to have that character which comes after wearing over time. The best stories clothes tell are often once they have some wear and marks in them, he says. He gives the example of his favourite coat which has been scored and wrinkled with the excitement of his dog jumping up the bottom of it every time he gets home. This then proceeded to happen as the family arrived and Lulu raced between our legs to Stumpfl.
Family is an important part of the Brioni story, and even now, as less people are buying and wearing ties, Stumpfl has worked with tiemakers to develop other pieces which require expertise in lightweight silks, to ensure they still have plenty of work and aren’t left behind. The new Brioni gentleman that Stumpfl has achieved over the last few seasons has matured beyond its sharp evening wear to comfortable, wearable and useful clothes for everyday, which still has its form and ensures a curated, well-put-together look.
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