Milan Fashion Week: Dua Lipa walks across the Versace track, Prada resisting normality

MILAN – Milan Fashion Week has opened its third day of previews for next spring and summer against the backdrop of thousands of young environmental protesters calling the industry a Friday for its wasteful and polluting ways.

The question that hangs over Fashion Week is whether after 19 months the coronavirus pandemic led to real changes to a system that revolved around four ready-to-carry cycles a year, plus cruise and couture. Yes, shows are socially distant, and fewer editors are accepted than ever. But with companies rushing to restore sales at pre-pandemic levels, the question remains: are deeper changes really ahead?

Signs during the climate march through the heart of Milan have called for “dress change”, a slogan that counts towards the second most polluting industry after energy. “Everyone wants to be warm, but the earth is not one of them,” reads another sign.

Some highlights from Friday’s shows:

PRADA DECONSTRUCTS EVENING WEAR

Prada is back on the Live Runway for the first time since February 2020, when the creative partnership between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons was announced and just as Italy identified the first locally transmitted cases of the new coronavirus.

Fans strolled on the sidewalk outside the Fondazione Prada showroom and contemporary art showroom to bring VIPS and influences back to the way old fashion rituals are.

Inside, masked editors, tested with a health passport, sat at a social distance so much space to breathe. Another show was staged in Shanghai at the same time, featuring images of the dark skyline broadcast in the Milan showroom.

The collection, the third of the Prada-Simons era, was a deconstruction of traditional evening wear — corsets and evening wear — as a study in sensuality and in feminine form, the designers said in notes.

Simons lamented the “unreality” of an evening dress “but beautiful”, and it is certainly the case that many dresses have suffered the pandemic, unheralded, and closets.

“These clothes can be complicated: evening dresses, historical costume. We want to make it uncomplicated, simple, that feels modern,” Simons said.

Mini-skirts and couture silk leave long strings, sometimes floating behind. More formally, the skirts have full tuxedo tails. They were worn with sweaters, tattered leather bomber jackets and sleeveless blouses with black-and-white prints that cut out for a punk feel.

The clothes were pressed at the waist and left on the back in a way that suggested the Prada V logo, while the skirt had a deep inverse-V slit. Leather straps on blue biceps completed the look.

Knitting was soft, with chest or corset details, finished with the same leather bicep straps. Mini-knit tunics were printed at the waist and worn over matching short shorts

The color palette ranges from navy and black to cotton candy pink and canary yellow. Magenta accentuates acid green, which in turn complements the girly pink. Shoes had a low, cantilevered heel that gave the sensation of lifting.

For Prada, it is a mistake to discuss the show in the sense of a “return to normal”.

“We have learned that we are engaging in fashion with a much broader world,” Prada said in the show notes. “After everything’s done, how can you just go back?”

VERSACE’S ENERGIZED RUNWAY

Donatella Versace pumped energy into Milan Fashion Week with a star-filled orbit in front of the line, collecting heavily on the codes of the fashion house: bright colors, safety pins and especially silky scarves.

The British singer and emerging fashion icon Dua Lipa opened the track show in a black suit, which was held together with colored safety pins, as her song “Physical” exploded through the booth and closed it in a liquid fuchsia skirt and corset has.

In between, she was accompanied by Naomi Campbell, smiling and dressed brightly in a warm pink costume in an orange shirt, Gigi Hadid in a crisp latex black dress with just a silvery turquoise and pink, and Lourdes Leon Ciccone, in a metallic silvery dress.

The show opened with black costumes and dresses with small influences of color and pins and scarves that looked out of seam lines and slits, the colors getting more and more bold until they turned into a vibrant palette of pink, aquamarine, sea green, sour green and yellow break out.

The women’s silhouette radiated confidence, with bodily dresses and skirts offering a whole host of ways to attach skin with high slits to skirts, together tights and ab-revealed corsets or bra tops. Shoe included corrugated platforms Shoe in light satin.

Men’s clothing was more casual, with floral costumes, sporty varsity jackets with mesh tops, or light leather jackets paired with tight latex t-shirts and jeans.

Outside of Versace Square, hoards of fans lingered as if it were 2019, waiting for glimpses of arriving VIPs.

Front guests include Milan’s own fashion influencer-turned-entrepreneur Chiara Ferragni and her husband, singer Fedez, American influencer-turned-actress Addison Rae and actress Bella Thorne with her Italian friend, singer Benjamin Mascolo.

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Simone Rizzo and Loris Messina, the designers behind the Sunnei brand, invited the fashion masses to put on sunglasses in a white tunnel and look at the collection as strobe lights shine.

The youth collection was strong on layers, with long skirts over pants, or gray fringe protruding from Bermuda shorts. Proportions were mostly loose and oversized, with coats gathered at the waist to provide a definition. Bags were soft and large, or rigorously boxy.

Sunglasses, straight and shiny tunnels, strapped to the back of the head.

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