Milan Fashion Week SS16 Round Up

The sky is blue, the sun is shining, the wine is flowing, the pasta is perfect. We are in Milan, epicentre of Italian style and showcase for some of the most sophisticated fashion labels in the world, from the high octane sexiness of Cavalli, D Squared and Moschino to Queen of them all, Donatella Versace. Add names like Etro, Jil Sanders and Bottega Veneta, then think of the great family dynasties such as Missoni, Ferragamo, Fendi, who have been bedrocks of Italian fashion for decades, plus the crafts and skills of Tod’s or Marni and you realise why the fashion world makes a B line to this city in its search for all the new and exciting in fashion for the next season. They know that Milano never lets them down.

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This season was especially confident in its predictions and nowhere more so than at Prada where Miuccia Prada, in the strongest show of the week, demonstrated yet again why she is the leader of the Italian pack. She gave us deconstructed classic suits in tweed and silk, many with half skirts like aprons but then in typical Prada style undermined the look with thick knit nerdy men's pullovers underneath. The strongly striped leather bags were a huge hit - and some of them in shiny Le Mans scarlet and yellow would actually look right carried by a man.  Donatella Versace, the other grand lady of Milan fashion, surprised us all by holding her show in a vast industrial space and introducing a powerful camouflage fabric in shades of dark green, purple and brown. It was a very modern take on her classic glamour approach and, whilst being entirely her own, seemed to reflect her friendship with Christopher Kane and his cool and sometimes dark aesthetic. We even spotted flat heeled shoes.

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Milan was all about extravagant exuberance this season with strong colour, rich embroidery, masses of lace and a lot of referencing of Neapolitan and Sicilian culture. Dolce&Gabanna did it brilliantly and best, of course with huge roses printed and embroidered on dramatic black backgrounds and all the Tutti frutti colours of Italian ice cream, gold Baroque embroidery and tourist views printed on silk dresses - all to a background of Dean Martin singing about Italy. All very fifties; all very marvellous. But at Moschino Jeremy Scott also gave us a fabulous show, based on the roadworks that bedevil every major city in the world. With hard hats designed by Stephen Jones and fabulous colours and patterns based on fifties' prints, he gave us a fairground excitement that I for one loved. His genius lies in the way he sends up his favourite period, the fifties, and gives it a modern feel. But, as one of the world's great fashion centres, Milan also has subtleties and nuances. And they are best seen in the shows of Etro, a company that takes traditional values and beauties and presents them in an entirely modern way. Floaty, romantic dresses in the soft shades of seventeenth century country scenes; flounces and lace - both of which will be major trends next spring and summer - and rich shades of plum and dark blues speak to the woman who likes her clothes to be discerning but never overwhelming. In other words, real clothes for real lives.

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