The opening day of Milan Fashion Week on Tuesday was always going to be a big deal, with the first tentative return to a live audience in 18 long months.
While shows were a mix of runway and digital presentations, the collections felt more solid, more optimistic. Like in New York and London, designers this season offered a reaction to the pandemic and a first look at life after it.
Here are the highlights from day one.
At Fendi, Kim Jones served up a beautiful collection of flowing lines and immaculate proportions. Using the drawings of Antonio Lopez – the illustrator friend of the late Karl Lagerfeld who contributed to Fendi decades ago – as decoration, Jones found a sophisticated stride.
Wide-legged trousers, cut-away tuxedos and billowing kaftans in colours that shifted from creamy bone through to inky black helped onlookers to envision a timeless wardrobe.
In his first collection for the house, new creative director Fausto Puglisi revisited many of the codes that made Cavalli so beloved in the first place.
Dresses were carved around the body – often quite literally – while signature animal prints appeared on dresses, tops and, best of all, a huge puffed skirt, covered with the face of a tiger and worn with a bandeau bra top.
As an antidote to being cooped up for so long, Ferretti used butterflies to signal our return to the world. Often distilled down to blues and greens on her trademark chiffon looks, the result was beguiling. Added to this, Ferretti turned to handmade elements, such as knotted fringing and macrame as a way to show how much we have all missed simple human interaction.
The masculine, almost utilitarian aesthetic of the house was softened this season, perhaps because the designer duo behind the label, husband and wife Lucie and Luke Meier, have just had their first child.
The result is a more relaxed, more rounded approach that featured wide-shouldered blazers with vast handkerchiefs tied at the neck, and simple yet comfortable mid-length dresses.
This design duo are obsessed with reworking off-cuts and creating handmade elements, regardless of how scrambled the results.
And while this approach can deliver some hectic combinations, it is also the label's greatest strength, taking viewers on a creative journey. The spring/summer collection offers a dress in two different fabrics that is now joined vertically, and jackets covered in charmingly naive drawings.
Wonderfully chaotic, it just shouts about how much fun fashion is meant to be, and how we could all use a little joy in our lives right now.