Superwomen Ruled

Milan Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2017/18

We were struck by two powerful female archetypes stalking the runways of Milan Fashion Week (February 22–28): the romantic goddess and the warrior queen. In a clear sign of the times, Fall/Winter 2017/18 appeared to be leading with the many faces of woman: While Alberta Ferretti was all feminine romance with fluid lines, others power-dressed with square-shouldered silhouettes. Naturally, this being Milan, it was served up with plenty of Italian baroque to delight the senses.

Think Versace and ‘practical’ is not the first word that springs to mind. However, this season it renews its assertive, sensual femininity with a wearable, everyday aesthetic. The keyword is “freedom.” Naturally, that has to be practical, but not at the expense of glamour. Hence metallic mesh slip-dresses and short, down jackets paired with deep-slit skirts, plus oversize sweaters and coat hanger-shouldered jackets adorned with crystals—the latter worn over mini-hoodies, which is a top trend on Fashion Week sidewalks this year. Last words go to Versace’s beanies, scarves and tees: UNITY, COURAGE, LOYALTY, LOVE!

Likewise, Laura Biagiotti was keen to keep it comfortable and eminently wearable. There were the oversize sweaters again, and voluminous palazzo pants in delicate mother-of-pearl hues. The emphasis here was on luxe, experimental textures, with cashmere and brocades adorned with sparkling crystals and sequins.

The iconic 1940s/1980s V-shape made a confident appearance on Sara Cavazza’s runway for Genny. The embodiment of elegance, it had graceful strength, it was concise, and it was whiter than white. However, Cavazza’s woman was saved from a backward-facing, stark minimalism by her ravishing jewel embellishments, crusts of Swarovski crystals, and contrasting silken inserts.

Contradictory ideals of femininity found expression at Fausto Puglisi. Inspired by ecclesiastical garments, and worn under a broad-brimmed priest’s galero hat, a flowing white maxi dress with thigh-high splits glided by. It gave a witty contrast to the golden mini-dress that flaunted stockings and suspenders, butched up with a black leather biker jerkin. Catholic girls, indeed! Sumptuous brocades plus exquisite crystal and gilt embroideries underlined Puglisi’s devotion to embellishment.

Channeling the Belle Époque portrait artist Giovanni Boldini (dubbed the “Master of Swish” for his flowing style of painting), Alberta Ferretti was pure femininity with a flutter of draped and frilled chiffon in a palette of powder pinks offset with jet black, while opulent Swarovski crystal jewels were worn in the Victorian Grand Period style.

Swarovski–sponsored designer Andrès Caballero conjured a powerful vibrancy at his San Andrès Milano show. The idea, we were told, was to direct the energy of ancient Toltec warriors into the “shaman-damsels” of the runway. This is seductive myth making—not least because the dizzying, intricate and colorful floral jacquard patterns, embellished by a decadent shimmer of crystal jewels, took on an extraordinary, hyper-real dimension. Devastating.