We told you about the Milan of excesses, but the Fashion Week showed us how beauty can also come from the rigour of synthesis

Words by: Domenico Costantini and Gianmarco Gronchi

Behind the blinding lights of photographers’ flashbulbs, behind the glitter of glossy magazine pages, Milan is rediscovering itself as a city of essence, of simplicity, of an almost ascetic meditation on the fundamentals of fashion. And if one of the many faces of the Milan Fashion Week that has just ended was that of the liberation of impulses and creative freedom, another is represented by the minimalist rigour of those who prefer absence to abundance.

Antonio Marras showcases his collection through a video shot and edited by choice in Santu Lussurgiu, narrated by the voice of Italian singer-songwriter Nada Malanima.  “I had a wound in my heart, I feel it, I feel it burning, but I didn’t want to suffer,” says Nada, as warm as those flames of the past. “I started to walk, step by step, the wound was always there. I kept hearing it. Then i started to ran among colors, flowers, mountains, seas, rivers, lakes but the wound was always there. And i took it, touched it, i looked at the wound, and over the time, i stitched up and now it is embroidery at the bottom of my heart”. Fashion and memory, because the drama of the fire that devoured one of Sardinia‘s green lungs, Santu Lussurgiu in Montiferru, this summer must not be forgotten. And designer Antonio Marras manages to bring these two aspects together. He does so in the fashion film he has made where he has taken models to parade on the ash carpet. Disorientated and incredulous boys and girls wander through the wounded forest to pay homage. Between narratives of memory, visions of popular cultures and surreal landscapes, the boys meet and together parade like blurred figures. They wear shirts made of lace, cut-outs, embroidery, tulle, cotton, three-dimensional lace and voile, flowered and embroidered suits. They slowly rise to the surface, the characters of the wasteland, rediscovering the image of a thought that comes from afar, from migrations and transhumance, and a gentle voice whispers: “I am happy with everything, I have told you, I could not be otherwise. I have good, intelligent children, grandchildren as well, and isn’t that a good thing?” The characters position themselves in a neutral zone and like sheep return to the fold, frightened, to repopulate and revive the most beautiful place on earth.

Antonio Marras “I Had a Wound in My Heart”

Antonio Marras Spring Summer 2022 collection
“I Had a Wound in My Heart”

Missoni’s new creative director, Alberto Caliri, also chooses to investigate a story, but not his own personal one but the brand’s history. The 2022 summer collection is all about the idea of the nude look, launched in Florence by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni in 1967, because, as Caliri said, “the new Missoni begins with Missoni”. And the memory of the two founders is not a nostalgic tribute, but a moment to look ahead. Rosita’s murrine and Ottavio’s tapestry patterns decorate shirts worn open on the chest, beside lurex trousers and tight and asymmetrical dresses with zebra patterns, that leave part of the breast exposed. Silver bikinis are minimal in their proportions, in a dizzying exaltation of the female body.

Functionality, instead, is the problem that has occupied the mind of Guillaume Meilland, design director at Ferragamo, which, after the changes at the head, has still not appointed a new creative director. May Meilland take non offence, but this absence seems to weigh heavily on the shoulders of a collection that seems to have been created out of necessity rather than conviction. The oversized polo shirt and knitted trouser suits and the trapezoidal tunics proposed in both male and female versions are interesting, nonetheless. However, with the knowledge that the brand’s archive abounds with material to work on, the men’s and women’s collection for summer 2022 seems to lack a strong underlying idea. We can just wait and see what decisions the company will take in the near future.

King Giorgio is doing things in a big way this fashion week. Firstly, he celebrates 40 years of Emporio Armani, his second clothing line, with the exhibition The Way We Are, on show until 6 February 2022 at the Armani Silos. Secondly, he shows the new Emporio Armani summer collection, in both men’s and women’s versions. Of course, there is no shortage of jackets, deconstructed and soft in the Armani tradition, and sometimes the tie, an accessory that seemed to have been banned from the male wardrobe in recent years, returns. Alongside, however, Armani’s comfortable volumes adapt to garments with a fluid and light identity. Shirt-jackets are worn over t-shirts and shirts with a Korean collar, alternating with more tailored suits. For women, the collection ranges from frothy mini-dresses to suits à la garçonne, in a multifaceted vision of modern femininity. Armani feels free to play with transparencies and colours, and alongside cool but not aseptic tones, there are also polychrome geometric patterns and colour blocking on skirts and sequin tops. A multitude of symmetries is tinged with pure white, almost as if it were a modern reinterpretation of Hellenistic statuary, for garments dedicated to sportswear. After all, it has been the summer of the European Football Championship and the Olympics. As we had already seen in June for the men’s collection, a great sense of inner peace prevailed, which also returned in the main line fashion show. “I made a choice to do a light, sweet collection and I also saw that the girls were very happy. Today you want sweetness, you want to be in love, you want people to fall in love with you, you want to recover lost relationships against a world that is going towards questionable situations”. It is with these words that Armani himself comments on his women’s collection for the coming summer season. And his clothes, as well as speaking of interpersonal love, are here to testify the love of a creator for his work, an enduring sentiment created over time, so much so that even the location of the fashion show, Armani’s first theatre in Via Borgonuovo, is a significant choice. It will be no coincidence, then, that all the most beautiful parts of this love story between Armani and Fashion returned to the catwalk. It does not matter if it is in shades of blue, pink or grey, but the jacket is always present, with or without lapels, as the semi-transparent chiffon dresses, in which the female body seems to lose weight. Of dazzling beauty are the trousers with a very loose fit, high-waisted and with darts, on which Armani’s signature dissolves into an elegant abstract decoration. Almost a poetic metaphor that seals the link between creation and creator, in the awareness that besides success, photographers’ flashes and celebrity, what counts is love and passion. 

Simone Rizzo and Loris Messina‘s catwalk show, Sunnei, corresponds to the tangible apotheosis of a new dimension of the label that guests will be able to explore first-hand through an impalpable yet revelatory experience in a live presentation designed in collaboration with interdisciplinary agency 2050+, which created the catwalk set-up. Staged in a 7,000m2 warehouse in south-west Milan, the show was held alongside an immersive, dystopian lighting experience. A crescendo of uncomfortable white lights welcomes guests into the gallery, teleporting them through time and space. the escalation of light is so eerie that a filter is required to pass through it. It is a new iteration of the brand’s sunglasses, prototype 3, which attendees picked up before entering the hallway. The experimental garments adorning the models testify to the brand’s acquired maturity, where minimalist lines and an explosion of colours and sophisticated workmanship are at their best.

Veronica Leoni, strengthened by a past that has left its mark (Jil Sander and Celine with Phoebe Philo), the designer makes her debut this year at Milan Fashion Week with her brand Quira “a very personal extension of mine that I am enthusiastic about”. A collection that unfolds in itself, both feminine and masculine, from the narrow tail to the fluid draping, from the volumes that barely touch the body to the shapes that sculpt it. A collection that is a view on classics, from the guts, fostering the idea of style as a militant substance.

Quira's first collection for Spring Summer 2022 Camille Vivier / courtesy of Quira

Quira’s first collection for Spring Summer 2022
Photo credit : Camille Vivier / courtesy of Quira

Lucie and Luke Meier, made a life change this year, perhaps the biggest kind of life change. They had a baby girl in June. This kind of development can alter an artist’s perspective. Autumn 2020 was mostly black and white, with a flash of red. Here, they experimented with a range of pastel and bright colours, and added a few zebra prints for good measure. To the sounds of Croatian Amor’s ‘An angel gets his wings clipped’, which opens and closes the show, they learned to intimately express their joy. This emerged most clearly in a pair of outfits at the end, which layered sequin-embroidered shirts over trousers and boots. These sequin dresses represent a real departure for the Meiers: loose, playful and fun.

This was Jil Sander‘s first show under the Otb aegis.

The most surprising response to the need for a contemporary, decisive yet beautiful essentiality comes from Prada, where the cooperation between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simon begins to bear really tasty fruit. Coming out of the pandemic, what better return to the catwalks than the most intimate celebration of haute couture and the most sensual presence of the female body? Streamed simultaneously between Milan and Shanghai, the catwalk showed raw-cut miniskirts in bright colour blocks with visible splints, while a silk satin flutter simulated the train of period dresses, a reminder of a sartorial tradition only apparently lost. In this new collection, knitwear alternates from purple to more sober colours, but always with stitching under the bust or sewn-on cups that enhance the features of the female body. There is no shortage of sheath dresses, again in raw-cut silk, but unbuttoned at the back and fastened with an internal drawstring and belt. Even the pointed heel is transformed by the addition of the typical male moccasin stitching, for a collection of neo-modern career women in which nothing seems to have been left to chance. Miuccia Prada and Raf Simon have worked by removing the inessential, digging deep into the material of high fashion to capture its essence, synthesising its fundamental stylistic features in a few, small, calibrated details. It is certainly not the unlogical and gratuitous exhibition of the catch-all scandal that makes a fashion collection, but many often seem to forget this. Prada, on the other hand, bears witness to the ideal of a tapered, almost abstract but at the same time extremely sexy beauty. A balance that not everyone can achieve, and it is exactly the reason why we have to be thankful.