In response to “Does Milan Matter?”

A female model wearing the new line of Giorgio Armani at Milan Fashion Week 2013. Courtesy Photo Giorgio Montersino / Flickr

This article was written in response to Vanessa Friedman’s article “Does Milan Matter?” published in The New York Times on Sept. 24. 

Medford, Mass. It was 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, the garbage truck was finishing its round of collecting the recycling on Boston Avenue and a common Tufts student was het up.

Was he late to class? Was the water pressure not good enough in the shower? Did he — oops — not like what he was reading in The New York Times? Most certainly.

His morning had been ruined by an article defining the runways of Milan Fashion Week as “out-of-focus” and deeming Italian brands and designers “confused about their own roles in the greater fashion ecosystem.” Infantile nationalistic pride aside, he believed such a claim was unfair and unjustified vis-à-vis the breathtaking and awfully photogenic moments provided by Jeremy Scott for Moschino, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana for their eponymous brand and Donatella Versace’s star-studded tribute to her late brother Gianni.

The Moschino Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear show began with Kaia Gerber, daughter of supermodel Cindy Crawford who made her runway debut at Raf Simons’ Calvin Klein Collection earlier this year, strutting down the runway in a leather jacket and light blue tutu. The first look, which was completed by a “My Little Pony” t-shirt, set the tone for the entire collection. Jeremy Scott was serving everything fashion audiences have become accustomed to in his shows: glamour, wackiness and a healthy mix of naiveté and sex appeal. Hence the biker ballerina looks paired with “My Little Pony” accessories, including lunchboxes you might have seen in primary school, except these were in leather and cost over $900. Scott also delivered a truly showstopping moment about halfway through the show, when model Anna Cleveland strolled down the catwalk wearing a flower-shaped dress, detaching petals from it and throwing them into the crowd. Gigi Hadid and again Kaia Gerber closed wearing trompe l’oeil dresses resembling floral bouquets, wrapping and all. 

Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2018 show was also a celebration of fun, playful and tongue-in-cheek fashion, with a collection made of flashy prints, borderline-kitsch accessories and kooky headpiece symbols of ‘Italian-ness,’ like headpieces made with miniature Fiat Cinquecento cars, cabbages and vegetables evocative of Italy’s agricultural past and patterns inspired by Sicilian ceramic tiles. It definitely seemed like the D&G brand, which now earns more than 50 percent of its profits from handbags alone, is still a force on the Italian and international scenes. The garments were self-referential, some even reminiscent of the iconic show in Naples that was dedicated to actress Sophia Loren — coherent with the brand yet original and contemporary.

Dulcis in fundo, it would be impossible to write a Milan Fashion Week 2017 roundup without at least mentioning the Versace Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear show. The collection, which was designed by the company’s creative director Donatella Versace, was entirely a tribute to Donatella’s late brother, who popularized the brand and the prints for which it has gained immense international recognition. Kaia Gerber and the Hadid sisters also graced this catwalk with their confident walks and the social media buzz with which this generation of supermodels is often associated.

The soundtrack of the show was interspersed with recordings celebrating Gianni Versace’s contribution to the world of fashion, and the garments that were sent down the runway were tangible proof of it. From the Baroque golden leaves to the pastel sweaters and miniskirts from one of the most iconic advertisements from the 1990s, every single piece and pattern spoke to the aesthetic of the Italian fashion house. The fashion show also provided a closing moment that will be hard to forget for fashion aficionados, when Donatella walked down the runway with five of the muses her brother used to tailor his clothes after. Carla Bruni, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, Naomi Campbell and Claudia Schiffer all wore stunning golden lamé gowns as the people who were lucky enough to attend the event pulled out their iPhones to record their Instagram stories.

Because of the breathtaking moments delivered by this Milan Fashion week, people claiming Italian fashion houses were “out-of-focus,” or that there is confusion in any measure in the Italian fashion realm, are simply confused themselves. Although the state of Italian politics might not be as prosperous, the runways of Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana and Versace were evidence that people will still have to look to Milan for creative inspiration. Milan does (still) matter.

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