The highlights of Milan Fashion Week: strong women of all ages rule the runway

Overt feminism at Prada, a multi-generational cast at Versace and D&G, and a rumour mill in overdrive

A model presents a creation for Prada fashion house during the Women's Spring/Summer 2019 fashion shows in Milan, on September 20, 2018. / AFP / Andreas SOLARO
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Powerful women at Prada

Prada’s spring/summer 2019 show kicked-off at the Prada Foundation amid a cacophony of techno beats. Miuccia Prada reaffirmed her standing as both a tastemaker and a feminist, as models appeared in outfits featuring stylised cracks, openings and cuts.

"I wanted to play with all the classic cliches of women's clothes, the tennis skirts, short coats, hairbands, chiffon blouses… and tear them at the elbow, or on the back, to show the contrast of the strong woman that Prada has always sought to inspire and represent," she maintained. 

The show opened with a look that mixed knee-length brown satin shorts with a black blouse and bright pink sandals. Shorts and wrap skirts made way for A-line dresses with plunging necklines worn with T-shirts. The show was brimming with whites, browns and beiges, with only the odd pop of acid tones and tie-dye prints, representing cities and landscapes. Prada mixed cashmere, polka dots, chiffon and gold buttons for the outfits, while somehow managing to turn satin headbands into something different and fun. All in all, the collection was a statement “against the conservatism that is rampant in the world”, Miuccia claimed.


Rumours of a Versace acquisition run rife

FILE PHOTO: Models present creations at the Versace show during Milan Fashion Week Spring 2019 in Milan, Italy, September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini/File Photo
Models present creations at the Versace show during Milan Fashion Week Spring 2019. Reuters

The rumour mill ran rife as Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera claimed ­yesterday that the sale of Italian ­fashion brand Versace is imminent. The report suggested that the brand is valued at US$2 billion (Dh7.3bn) and also ­speculated that the buyer might be ­American fashion group Michael Kors or jeweller Tiffany & Co. This followed a strong show by Donatella Versace, which, by Versace standards anyway, was relatively laid-back and practical. It featured supersized blazers worn over teeny skirts, boyish jackets, and artfully mismatched prints, plaids, stripes and florals, peppered with oversized Versace logos, see-through tote bags and, in a most un-Versace move, chunky trainers.


A multigenerational cast

Donatella Versace is a master of the ­supermodel surprise – almost exactly a year ago, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her brother Gianni’s death and in a nod to the fact that he essentially invented the supermodel phenomenon, she orchestrated a show finale featuring Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy ­Crawford and Helena Christensen. This year, she called on Shalom Harlow, another of the 1990s modelling world’s greats, to close her Milan Fashion Week presentation. Also spotted on the Versace runway were old favourites Freja Beha, Liya Kebede and Anja Rubik, who joined Instagram-era Kendall Jenner, Emily Ratajkowski and the Hadid sisters.

This multigenerational approach was taken up a notch over at the Dolce & ­Gabbana show, which was a smile-­inducing 150-look ode to the brand’s DNA (the ­designers’ own ­fingerprints were ­projected on screens behind the audience to ­reinforce the theme). There was Carla Bruni in a ­brocade suit, Monica Bellucci in a fitted polka-dot dress, Eva Herzigova in a frothy black chiffon number, and a caped Isabella Rossellini, who walked with her daughter and grandson. Dolce & Gabbana also continued its embrace of models of all ages, colours, sizes and ethnicities by sending the likes of Ashley Graham and Bahrain’s Princess Dana Al Khalifa (pictured) down the runway. While the collection incorporated all of the duo’s best-known motifs, there was also a pointed message on one netted top: “Fatto a Mano” or “­handmade”, to underline the brand’s commitment to craftsmanship.


Mattresses at Marni

A model presents a creation during the Marni fashion show, as part of the Women's Spring/Summer 2019 fashion week in Milan, on September 23, 2018. / AFP / Marco BERTORELLO
A model presents a creation during the Marni fashion show, as part of the Women's Spring/Summer 2019 fashion week in Milan, on September 23, 2018  AFP 

For many, Francesco Risso’s show for Marni was the highlight of the week. A year into his tenure at the brand, he has managed to take its very specific infusion of oddball charm and make it his own. A case in point: the seating arrangement for the spectacle consisted of a series of beds arranged in the shape of an amphitheatre.

For his spring/summer 2019 collection, Risso embarked on an exploration of the classics, with tailored silhouettes and elements drawn straight from the ancient world, including architectural prints and jewellery shaped like the Venus de Milo. Skirts were swept up like sarongs, and worn with off-the-shoulder bustiers, while the Roman toga was given a modern revamp with sleek, form-fitting textiles. It was crafty, unique and brimming with soul.


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