Milan has always been rebellious. But, many may not know that Florence was the original home of Italian fashion week. However, when regulations on the designers became too restrictive, the defiant brands moved their shows to Milan—the industrial steel town—where they could show in palaces, warehouses and on subway platforms. This, along with the fact this city, built on fashion and factories, is full of lively Italians, gives the week an all-out attitude that embellishes the streets with crazy colors, flashing cameras and mountains of accessories. The shows are immersive environments that carry the audience through the designer’s vision for each collection. This year, I was lucky enough to experience this passion at two spring/summer 2016 shows.
Uma Wang’s elegant show was inspired by the raw, graceful form of a ballerina. Before the show started, small groups of leotard-clad girls draped in spotlight practiced on the runway, casually cycling through the positions to classical music. As they shuffled off, giggling, they were replaced by a parade of naturally styled models wearing ballet flats and tall, wispy buns. Their long dresses clung to the body on top and gently bloomed out asymmetrically on the bottom. Many of the dresses revealed a back with simple straps that featured black stripes or subtle floral patterns. The garments’ palette centered on nude, harmoniously complementing the pastels in the walls. The neutral colors in the thin fabrics of flowing forms balanced the attention between the clothes and the shapes of the models’ bodies. Uma Wang’s show made women in the room wish they hadn’t quit ballet in their rebellious phase.
The next day, Leitmotiv’s show set a whole new world in the very same room. The runway entrance was dominated by a vibrant fantasy forest installation. The dazzling colors of the installation bounced off the walls and made the room brighter. Models in bright eyeshadow sauntered out of the patterned thicket and onto the catwalk, looking like tropical birds. Matching the installation, the garments were an array of bright red, blue, yellow and fuchsia. There was a multitude of ruffles accentuating tight waists on dresses and skirts of all lengths that mimicked elements of traditional style from countries around the world. Short leather boots with appliqués and hot accents carried the models down the catwalk. Leitmotiv’s show was a diverse celebration of the paradise that we are lucky to live within.
All photos by: Nadja Mataya