MILAN -- A naïve streak is running through the collections on preview during Milan Fashion Week — with a return to simpler times, yesteryear prints and patterns and unfussy silhouettes.
Checked gingham is making a comeback, while crushed velvet is making inroads into the summertime wardrobe as fashion takes comfort in nostalgia. Raffia bags and weave details also are on display.
Highlights from Thursday previews for Spring/Summer 2020 womenswear collections:
THE SUN SHINING ON FENDI
Fendi seemed to have an atavistic, perhaps artistic, need to return to the brand's ready-to-wear roots in the mid-1960s to confront the first collection since the loss of Karl Lagerfeld, the brand's founding womenswear designer from 1965 until his death last February.
The new collection by Silvia Venturini Fendi drew on easy 1960s mom styles, like quilted jackets and matching mini-skirts, garden floral cropped raincoat and skirt and easy-to-wear terry-cloth skirts and canvas jackets. Woven bags and matching woven sweaters had a nostalgic, almost naïve feel, countered by a plunging V-line and translucent print mini or matching macrame weave skirts.
Florals and gardening references tied in neatly with the menswear Spring/Summer 2020 collection previewed last June in Milan. A series in golden honey yellow and brown gave a down-to-earth buzz to a checked fur coat, or gingham dress with short-sleeved fur in matching trim. For the queen bee, there was a fur-check intarsia coat, with sheer checked skirt and a cropped marigold knit top. The look finished with bug-eye glasses, fastened with a librarian eyeglass chain bearing the double FF logo, and large brim prairie bonnets.
The 1969 hit "The Age of Aquarius" played throughout the show, setting an optimistic tone for Fendi's debut collection flying as the solo headliner. And she took her bows standing in front of the image of a rising orange sun to the companion melody "Let the Sunshine In."
THE LIGHTNESS OF EMPORIO ARMANI
Giorgio Armani says he wanted to dress his Emporio Armani woman in air. He just about succeeds.
The Spring/Summer 2020 collection was a study of lightness and movement, softness in materials, silhouette and color palette.
"It is difficult to define beauty," the designer said after the show. "There are many women who can be beautiful in their own way. Once there was the beauty of the woman with the cigarette. Today women can be different, differently beautiful."
Opening the show and setting the tone, an airy trench floated over a transparent pink top and gray crushed velvet trousers, anchored by an urban pill-box crossbody bag.
The youthful-dressing Emporio Armani woman can show some skin in a velvet bra-top and matching trousers, unified with a double-breasted pink blazer. A wide-trouser jumpsuit in denim blue had a hippie feel with a cropped crushed velvet jacket. Tulle tops danced over silky trousers, accented by a tangle of beads. By nightfall, a silvery mood descended with a metallic sheen on organza trousers and gathered zipper jackets, accented by chain-mail earrings and breast-plates recalling the 1970s disco era. Footwear included pointy flat mules, high-top sneakers and knee-high military boots.
"There's a need for air, attention to nature and, most of all not, to be swept away by the vortex of novelty that sometimes can be too intellectual, other times too basic and yet other times suffer an excess of eclecticism," Armani said. "Let's return to being more normal, thinking of the men and women who live around us."
I SPY MAX MARA
Max Mara pays tribute to the under-represented female spy in the latest collection, taking a cue from British feminist writer Natasha Walter who reasons "fiction needs more female spies. After all, women are trained to keep secrets."
The secret of the Max Mara Spring/Summer 2020 collection was discipline. The looks had a military appeal, balanced with silky flowing femininity.
The centerpiece look was Bermuda shorts, tailored shirts and matching monochrome ties, worn with matching sheer knee socks and pumps. The all-black version was nearly martial in its impact, while a series in pastels softened the impact considerably. Taking the feminine counterpoint were a series of silky skirts in sexy diagonal tiers worn with billed caps and knee-high boots, all in trademark monochromes of pastel.
Mixing it up with some prints, the collection also paired masculine Prince of Wales jackets with feminine paisley dresses, and a silky polka-dot series had a tromp-l'oeil catch-me-if-you-can effect. The looks were styled with tight twin braids and dark lipstick — contrasting innocence with a femme fatale touch.
Top runway models Candice Swanepoel, Gigi Hadid and Doutzen Kroes opened the show as a Charlie's Angels trio in Sherlock Holmes gray, made sleek with tight silhouettes accented by zipped pockets and cinched waists. Joan Smalls and Kaia Gerber joined Hadid and her sister Bella Hadid in the closing look of silky sheaths with tiered detailing and military caps. The four clasped hands as they walked backstage.