With the return to the physical shows, here the highlights from Milan Fashion Week, whose soul is filled with estrus, fantasy and sensual excess

Words by: Domenico Costantini and Gianmarco Gronchi

As Milan Fashion Week draws to a close, it is time to take stock of the many impressions we have received from the Italian catwalks. This September marks the definitive rebirth of the fashion system at the dawn of the post-Covid era, with all the big brans returning to the physical show. From what we have seen, it seems that the designers are divided between those who have chosen a softer approach, a gentle minimalism made up of details, and those, on the other hand, who have focused on the disruptive power of shapes and colours.   

Marni offers Milan a great moment of fashion and communion. The designer chose two main themes for this Spring-Summer 2022 collection of rebirth: “Stripes that multiply everywhere, give meaning, connect” and daisies, which “emerge resiliently to disconnect and reconnect”. In addition to the models, the maison’s employees, technicians and seamstresses, but also the artists taking part in the show, special guests, stars and friends of the brand, not to mention the journalists, all wore cotton jackets, trousers or overcoats, salvaged from Marni’s stock and each repainted by hand with large vertical-coloured stripes. Each garment was marked with a large label saying “Marniphermalia”. In addition, half of each guest’s face was covered by a striped scarf from the brand, enough to hide the sanitary mask and above all to camouflage all the people, thus integrated into one and the same community. Moments of pure emotion punctuate the performance staged by Francesco Risso and Babak Radboy, such as when Mykki Blanco takes the microphone to recite one of his lyrics.Memorably, the singer Zsela sings “Guide You Home (I Would Die For You)” rearranged for the occasion by Devonté Hynes, aka Blood Orange.

The Etro women’s collection for the 2022 summer season, designed by Veronica Etro, is a hymn to the flower power of the Sixties and Seventies, eclecticly mixed with the silhouettes of the Nineties. “In full bloom” is the title of the collection which sees a multitude of floral prints alternating on sarong skirts, sleeveless qipao, semi-transparent blouses with generous fits, alternating with skirts and tops in metallic mesh. Of course, nothing new if we think of Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada”, who commented with a sarcastic “groundbreaking” to those who proposed floral in spring. But Etro’s garments look so well made that they invite you to wear them.

Kim Jones also goes back to the Seventies for the new Fendi collection. The source of inspiration is suggestive, as Jones looked at Antonio Lopez’s designs for Karl Lagerfeld. For a moment it really does feel like reliving the atmosphere of Studio 54. Lopez’s graphic style, halfway between pop and psychedelic, returns on all the pieces in the collection, from dresses with printed faces, to high boots chiselled in polychrome, to bags. Peplums alternated with tight-fitting jumpsuits, while Lopez’s sensual women returned on cream kaftans and silken shirting. However, Jones’ rigid and incisive cut, especially in the tailoring, is ill-suited to the sinuous volutes of the Puerto Rican graphic designer. The collection thus remains suspended, unable to free itself from the undertow of a streetwear that in this case does not help. Perhaps Jones needs a little more time to find his balance.

Dolce & Gabbana has long since chosen its own path, always faithful to its overflowing style, made of excesses and flamboyant polychromes. The women’s collection is in continuity with what we had already seen for the men’s in June, testifying a clear and personal vision – although in our opinion not totally convincing – of what fashion should be today. Jeans are back, enriched by a cascade of glitter and coloured sequins, while the triangle bra is proposed under the jacket, for a very seductive and extremely sexy woman. An urban chic in which lace also finds its place, both for the lingerie and for the mini dresses. Somehow, the Italian creative duo always returns – or perhaps never left? – to the aesthetic of the 2000s, with animal prints connecting the dots.

Fausto Puglisi, recently at the creative helm of Roberto Cavalli, also makes animalier prints the strong point of his collection. The wild tiger patterned evening slip worn in 2001 by Cindy Crawford is revived in all the garments of this new collection. A wild and aggressive look, made of necklines and feathering. The chromatic shades are beautiful, ranging from yellow to orange-red, as are the black evening dresses, which play at gradually showing off the body’s epidermis. Finally, this savannah atmosphere could not fail to be diluted by the floral prints in more park-like tones. 

Donatella Versace, instead, never feels the need to slow down but, on the contrary, always pushes the accelerator, designing a truly Versace-style collection for the next summer season. The catwalk is a parade of stars, from Irina Shayk and Emily Ratajkowski to Gigi Hadid and Dua Lipa. Naomi Campbell, one of the late Gianni’s muses, was even there. And the clothes could not fail to speak of the sumptuous opulence that has always characterised the Versace style but reinterpreted in a thoroughly contemporary key. There are silk basketball vests to wear under jackets and pyjamas with acidulous prints that make you feel Miami or Las Vegas vibes. There are stunning suits with jackets and pencil skirts and sheath dresses that are cut out to reveal the coloured lining. The iconic coloured Safety Pins fasten the closures of the suits, because if elegance must be, let it be punk. The rest of the collection is a bit puzzling. The clothes are well made and the pieces that make up each look are perfect when they talk to each other. But are we sure that it is still time for the total look?

After the “Zero” collection, it is time to give strength and consistency to the project with the fashion show of collection one, “Women and clouds”. In the collection there are glamour, botanical references and echoes from the East, there are references to water and plants, algae and flowers. And there are liquid satins and solid fabrics, transparencies and opaqueness, bright and desaturated colours, intense and pale shades and floral prints. “Mother Nature is in the atelier. The atelier is the laboratory for further evolution”, explains Daniel Del Core.

Fendace, an unexpected and disruptive collaboration between Versace and Fendi, two brands with a powerful imagination that is complacently exhibitionist and that make excess their key to interpretation. Unlike the Gucci / Balenciaga model, which acted as a forerunner, here we work on the idea of exchanging hosts: Kim Jones, Fendi’s artistic director, designs a small Versace collection while Donatella designs a small Fendi collection. Both have interpreted the key codes to their liking. 

The result?

They are sure to unleash ravenous appetites in today’s ever-ready-to-perform society.