Milan Fashion Week: The best shows from Italy so far

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The best social commentary: Prada

As one fashion insider pointed out, Prada’s collection seemed to harken back to “Old America, when it was great.” Retro silhouettes were complemented by details like intricate hand-embroidery on the skirts and greaser jackets — a kind of craftsmanship that is dwindling in this day of fast fashion. And let’s not forget those flaming Cadillacs — a symbol of American innovation and luxury — that decorated leather skirts and silk dresses. But it didn’t quite feel like nostalgia: more like the idea of moving forward, fast. It’s not certain if Miuccia was thinking about any of these things — Old America, the rebuilding of crumbling empires. The memo from the house talks about her exploring objects of desire (women and cars). But whether she planned it or not, her flying hot rods make a really intriguing commentary on our changing landscape.

The best mood: Jil Sander

Like Prada, Raf Simons conjured up a bygone era of glamour and innovation, making a very strong case for a polished, coolly calculated approach to dressing that simply doesn’t exist in this day, where most women try very hard to look like they didn’t put any effort into their appearance. The collection started out with untouchable, expertly tailored reinventions of the white shirt as cotton and poplin dresses, most of which had tiny bits of crystal embroidery discreetly attached to pintucks on the waist. From there, he worked in a series of elegant separates in bright paisleys followed by knit sweaters with renderings of iconic Pablo Picasso works — this in itself is noteworthy because Picasso’s estate has never allowed anything like this to be done before. The show ended as it began, with the white shirt (this time made into chic, simple wedding dresses). When Simons took his bow, the room of editors erupted in cheers.

The red carpet favorite: Dolce & Gabbana

Prior to the show, Stefano Gabbana kept Tweeting things like, “Zucchini! Pasta! Salad!” And while the Italian kitchen played a part, the real muse for his and Domenico Dolce’s collection was the Sophia Loren movie “Pane, Amore e…” Those vegetables (eggplants, zucchini, garlic, red peppers and tomatoes), printed on the duo’s corseted  chiffon dresses, were meant to conjure up images of feisty women who have their way in the kitchen. The garden prints were broken up with pretty lace coats and dresses embroidered with floral appliques, bejeweled playsuits and cocktail dresses embellished to the hilt in tassels and rhinestones. It was a sexier follow-up to last season’s starry dresses. Bottom line: Expect celebs (including Scarlett Johansson, who sat front row) to be covered in fruits and veggies come next spring.



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