Fast fashion, lazy luxury and tenderness: From Milan, Moschino, Bottega Veneta, Versace and Jil Sander

Alexander Fury
photo 11 225x300 Fast fashion, lazy luxury and tenderness: From Milan, Moschino, Bottega Veneta, Versace and Jil Sander

A Moschino model, and handbag, from Jeremy Scott's first show

Milan fashion week is sometimes a little bit like groundhog day. The same shows are staged in the same showrooms, at the same time, to the same audience. It’s all rather predictable.

Jeremy Scott’s opening gambit for Moschino was rather predictable, too. He snitched and stole icons, slogans and ideas from the house’s back-catalogue, as well as from McDonald’s, Chanel and Nickelodeon (via Louis Vuitton, who did the high-fashion SpongeBob thing first). It was all whizzed together in a blender and made for a high-camp parade of clothes that oscillated between unwearable couture-alike clodhoppers (gargantuan silk dresses garnished with enormous bows, frills and furbelows) and anodyne sportswear. It’s exactly what you imagined he would do.

I didn’t enjoy this Moschino show. But the Moschino show wasn’t for me. It was for Katy Perry, who delayed proceedings by 53 minutes before she was ushered to her seat by a chorus of boos from the photographers’ pit. Not just for Perry, of course, but she’s emblematic of the client Moschino are trying to attract via the appointment of Scott: high profile (Scott dresses Rihanna, Perry and in a prior incarnation Britney Spears), and young. Too young to remember what Franco did first time around, too young to demand too much from their clothing.

We shouldn’t demand too much of Moschino. It’s a little like complaining that a National Lampoon film doesn’t have the subtle nuances of Woody Allen. They’re both comedies, but they’re for entirely different audiences. Moschino isn’t for an informed fashion connoisseur. It’s fun fashion junk food, like all those McDonald’s logos Scott splattered across the clothes. It had absolutely no nutritional value, no food for thought. It filled a hole in the schedule, and will no doubt be easily stuffed down consumers’ throats. A selection is offered for sale already, patterned with Scott’s twisted takes on the golden arches.

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A look from the autumn/winter 2014 Bottega Veneta collection

How different to the Bottega Veneta show, where the signature intrecciato bags take months to make and where not an ounce of fun was to be had. These clothes were very serious, stately, sometimes sedate, even staid. A dark palette and focus on pleating and fabric manipulation reminded me of dour Abstract Expressionist art, at times. However, the finale lifted the mood, pleats liquifying and twisting around the body, infused with subtle colour. That felt quite summery. That’s because Tomas Maier is canny – the Bottega Veneta consumer is wealthy enough to climate-control her entire life.

The Bottega Veneta consumer is, probably, the luxury consumer everyone should be thinking about. These clothes don’t come cheap. They’re also not aimed at a youthful niche market. We’ve seen the influence of those kind of customers in many collections. She doesn’t need a heavy coat, unless its fur – which has, of course, been evident throughout the collections – throttling, smothering and blanketing models. It’s a short-hand for winter luxury, but in today’s hyper-competitive high-fashion market, short-hand seems a little lazy.

Donatella Versace is never lazy. Her latest Versace collection, while not dripping with work in the way some of her previous outings have been, was nevertheless filled with painstaking craftsmanship. She used the bias-cut, a technique invented by another woman, Madeleine Vionnet, to mould her clothing to the female form. It made a refreshing change from the usual Versace corsetry. It also reminded me of a collection of colour-blocked evening gowns in bias crepe de chine that Gianni showed in 1996, combining brilliant hues of turquoise and cerise, acidic yellow and cobalt. Donatella used some of those same shades in her latest offering, and they still looked fresh. She also referenced his love of military costume with beaded and bejewelled medals, medallions and military frogging. Those worked best as daywear – the last thing you expect from Versace, a label you imagine confines its greatest hits to after 5pm. Day dresses with flirty, fluttering bias hems studded with military buttons felt modern, light and easy.

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A suit and rubber bag, at Jil Sander

Donatella, of course, took over suddenly after her brother’s death in 1997. The team at Jil Sander may not have had a death in the family, but the sudden departure of Sander from her namesake label for the third time has placed the house in a tricky situation. This season, the design team behind the label paid homage to Jil Sander – woman, yes, and label. Hence the fetishy rubber bags that hinted at Raf Simons’ final menswear outing, and the chalky overcoats, like Sander’s signature camel injected with soft hues of pink, jade and lettuce-green. The house has always revolved around tailoring: best were a series of wool overcoats, grand in shape, needle-punched with black chiffon like crosshatching across the surface. While not archive-based, or archaic in the least, this collection had a loving tenderness towards the house’s hallmarks that was endearing.

The Jil Sander buyers don’t really care about that kind of journalistic twaddle, though. But they will want those coats.

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