Round Two for Milan’s Big Brands

Just as important as debuts are the follow-up collections. Fashion is full of hype, most often victim of it – and so a bad debut doesn’t mean a bad second-time-round, and, conversely, a great debut doesn’t mean you’ve got it sewn up for next season.

Milan’s Autumn/Winter 2018 shows were underpinned by three collections who all had second-album nerves: Emilio Pucci, Roberto Cavalli, and Jil Sander. The former opted for a presentation last season and plundered the wonderful print heritage of Pucci for a refreshing rekindling of a brand spirit that had been lost when it was put in the hands of MSGM’s Massimo Giorgetti. And prior to that, under Peter Dundas, Pucci was about something else entirely – unabashed glamour.

EMILIO PUCCI show in Milan. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

This time round, still with an installed design team at its core, the brand put those super-signature prints on more “trend-led” pieces – aka puffa jackets – the inspiration for which had apparently been Emilio Pucci’s own ties with America and a love for sportswear. It’s a brand, pre-Dundas and pre-Matthew Williamson (the British designer who also spent some time there way back when), we associate with the slopes, the beach, resort-wear in the sense of going and staying at one. Those pieces worked best, as did accessories whose Pucci-ness could suitably be shown off via those prints. But elsewhere, pieces that wandered off that track could have been by anyone and weren’t necessarily all that compelling on their own. Summer seemed to be a better season all round.

EMILIO PUCCI show in Milan. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

But the brand did add weight to the return of Marilyn Monroe as a figure of style influence for the season ahead, noting nipped-in waists on dirndl skirts and cropped knits as an ode to her curves. At Moschino, the blond bombshell, too, had provided Jeremy Scott with something to think about. Now we just need one more sighting (appropriate word of choice given that Scott’s reference to her was among aliens and conspiracy theories) for her to officially become a trend – as regulated by the official rules of the trend fashion book, naturally.

ROBERTO CAVALLI show in Milan. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

At Roberto Cavalli, it was a successful second outing. There was enough of that brash-glamour we know and kind of love Cavalli for, but luxed up, refined by Paul Surridge, the new man at the helm (who took over from Peter Dundas, who had left Pucci for the role, funnily enough), who seems to be striking the balance right. It’s down to the execution: the look of the pieces doesn’t feel trashy or over the top, it feels modern. Whether that’s because it now feels right to have some unabashed fun and glamorous clothes in our wardrobes again after seasons of Céline-championing or because the brand – which had been going through creative directors like a turn-style – has actually finally struck jackpot this time round, we’ll have to see a few more collections yet. When it comes to fashion, proof is not simply in the pudding, nor the cheese course or the coffee.

ROBERTO CAVALLI show in Milan. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.

Here, the suiting was sexy and the ruffles seductive, as opposed to romantic, and the woven knit dresses were technically great. Surridge, Central Saint Martins-trained and with stints at Burberry, Calvin Klein, Jil Sander, and Z Zegna under his belt, looks to be winning over even those who were never of the Cavalli persuasion previously, while managing to maintain those who were; it feels somehow fresh. Though among the former category, the jackets whose tails splayed off to the side like stingrays, some more convincing may still yet be needed.

JIL SANDER show in Milan. Photo by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION.

Last, but not least: Jil Sander. Luke and Lucie Meier, of OAMC and interim Dior fame, took to the captain’s deck last season, again amid an in-out-in-out creative director situation. So much unbalance for a brand that was once so solid and stable in its stance on fashion. It wasn’t pitched quite right for Spring/Summer 2018, a mish-mash of maybe ideas that, on a cursory surface-level glance, could be deemed Jil Sander, but that actually weren’t very much at all. The messages were mixed, as they were again today. With a generally going-to-bed feel for blanket wraps and a lot of quilting, there was an irony in that a label that built its reputation on clothes real women could wear in the real world, here none of them you really could, restraining the arms and legs as they did for silhouettes that wouldn’t segue into a working wardrobe, too clumsy would they be for one’s to-do list that day. Feet still need to be found here, both on and off the runway.

SALVATORE FERRAGAMO show in Milan. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Meanwhile, there was also a first – of sorts – to be found among the Milan schedule. An industry-wide trend of late has been the streamlining of collections, showing menswear with womenswear, and over at Salvatore Ferragamo that extended to Paul Andrew overseeing all menswear and womenswear as creative director, having previously just done womenswear – though he began purely on shoes at the company. Design director of menswear, Guillaume Meilland, however, still gets a mention. This was a typically Ferragamo collection – grown-up, meant for a certain kind of man and woman who have a certain sort of polish and finesse about them. More relaxed and interesting were the cagoule-like utility dresses; but overall Andrew certainly seems to know how Ferragamo folk dress, if that’s your kind of thing.


See EMILIO PUCCI's full FW18 collection here

See ROBERTO CAVALLI's full FW18 collection here

See JIL SANDER's full FW18 collection here.

See SALVATORE FERRAGAMO's full FW18 collection here.