MILAN — The day after a billionaire became a punching bag on a debate stage in Nevada, and questions of money and privilege and elitism once again were in focus, at the end of a runway in Milan Jeremy Scott constructed an actual stage for his Moschino show and raised the same issues on it.
He did it with a catwalk paved in antiqued mirrors beneath crystal chandeliers. He did it with Versailles-era corsets and swaying pannier-miniskirts; in denim and gold brocade; leather and pearls; gray hoodies and satin bows. He did it with toile de Jouy knickerbockers and matching cutaways in macaron shades; in patchworks of elaborate velvet brocades and bubbles and tiers and trains of floral taffeta.
He did it with showstopper dresses built to resemble petits fours, the frosting iced-on in curls and rosettes of latex below towering court of the sun king-style wigs.
Ridiculous? Sure. A cartoon? Absolutely: Hidden among the toile de Jouy patterns and tapestry embroideries, Japanese anime faces peeked out. There to be worn? Not the pastry dresses anyway (the brocade jean jackets and shepherdess pedal pushers maybe). They were there to make a point.
Before the excesses of the 1980s, after all (the ones that have been referenced on so many other runways), there were the excesses of the 1780s.
Backstage before the show, as models milled around poking fake fingernails tinted spun sugar sweet at their phones, Mr. Scott (nursing a broken elbow in a pink sling) was talking strikes in Chile, the gilets jaunes in France, socialism in the United States, “how stretched and tenuous the idea of democracy has become” and how that led, inescapably, to thoughts of the world before the French Revolution and Marie Antoinette, the woman who has become a symbol of all that decadence and blind frivolity.
Fashion is often dismissed as escapism. But sometimes the fantasy and frills are used to dress up a less palatable idea. A skirtful of irony helps the medicine go down.
It’s a complicated proposition using a runway show of expensive party clothes as a treatise on wealth disparity and the obliviousness of the ruling class. After all, the people who buy them are exactly the people being taken to task. As the show notes read, “the confectionery cocktail dresses stand as a sly comment on the denseness of certain people in power.” Mr. Scott elides the issue by turning it into a joke. The question is: at whose expense?
The Paradox of Lace
For a long time, Miuccia Prada was considered the political consciousness of Milanese fashion, the designer who most used her work to wrestle with the world around her. She still does, but now she has company. Whereas Mr. Scott uses fashion as a form of stand-up, however, made for the Instagram age, Mrs. Prada uses it as a way of thinking out loud.
And this time she was thinking about many of the same variables as Mr. Scott — the clichéd tropes of femininity — though her focus was not so much economic inequality and its historical pop culture poster girl as it was gender parity and its imagery.
In the world of Elizabeth Warren and Ursula von der Leyen and Margrethe Vestager, the assumption that a woman who comes out fighting has to hide in a man’s suit has shattered. But what happens next? Can you be a powerful woman without giving up the symbols associated with the concept of the weaker sex (see, for example, the wardrobe of that famous pastry-loving young queen)?
Turned out this was one of the questions of the week. It’ll probably be one of the questions of the decade. Mrs. Prada just articulated it more clearly than most.
Still, it was there in Christelle Kocher’s one-season-only guest designer stint for Emilio Pucci, in which the Paris-based Koché designer known for her streetwear chic kicked the prince of prints off his pedestal, mixing the famous Pucci swirls with lace and torn stockings, sweats and boxer shorts. Think Madonna in “Desperately Seeking Susan” transplanted to Capri, and you’ll get the idea.
And it was there in Silvia Fendi’s somewhat heavy-handed boudoir-to-boardroom show at Fendi, with its uneasy juxtapositions of shell pink and dark gray; thickening leather and frothing lace; puffed sleeves yanked off the shoulder and dropped down, so they looked both girlie and aggressively oversize at the same time. It’s “subversive for a strong woman to dress like a femme fatale,” Ms. Fendi said before the show (she herself was wearing a buffalo plaid shirt and gray pants). That is true. But it is still using the old gender stereotypes, when the goal should be to break them down entirely.
Speaking of which: At Tod’s, the new designer Walter Chiapponi was also trying to break out of a stale mold — the “Italian lifestyle” leatherfest that the brand has been locked in for awhile now. And though he managed to let the stuffing out in slouchy wide wale corduroys that hung off the hips and puddled on the floor paired with cropped knits and tweedy blazers, in tailored 1970s greatcoats and patched upcycled leather, there was still too much residue of the old bourgeois loafer set to really signal a new dawn.
Still, it’s going in the right direction, especially the big quilted feed bags with the logo reduced to a tiny T on the side. Hopefully, next time they’ll let him use a bigger mallet to smash through the formula.
Then Prada Shrugged
Or at least reduce it to its constituent parts so it can be rebuilt in new form. See Ms. Prada’s 1940s silhouettes — strong shoulders, belted jackets, mid-calf skirts — hung with Viennese Secession-era jet bead fringe (fringe is turning into a trend this season); the masculine fabrics (tweed, wool, flannel) undercut by skirts sliced into carwash strips to liberate the legs; the shirts and ties atop sheer skirts; the dream weaver lotus flower prints on strict silk pajama suits.
Her show took place at the Fondazione Prada in a sunken plaza set with a statue of Atlas at the center: the Greek god whose fate it was to hold the world on his shoulders. The implication being that now it is women who have assumed the burden — which means it’s time to renegotiate what that power looks like, whether in our own closets or the world.
In the meantime, want some cake?
Source: Thanks https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/21/style/milan-fashion-week-prada-moschino.html