MILAN, Italy — The score to the Arthur Arbesser show today was Franz Schubert, performed live by two piano players. It brought an almost unbearably melancholic tone to the proceedings. "This is all very Vienna, because I am a romantic guy" said Arbesser backstage. Despite his creative output being dry and at times piercingly cold, the Austrian transplant is a jolly and energetic person, always smiling and upbeat. One wonders why not a drop of this cheerfulness comes across in the clothes.
A smart individual, and a listener, Arbesser paid attention to last season's critiques and decided to soften his image, opting for something a little less hard and militaristic. Indeed, the collection was poetic and soft, all demure skirts, pussy bows and ladylike dusters, with some funny graphics splashed here and there. It was all very Viennese, too.
Did it work? In part. The problem here is not the design — Arbesser excels at that. But the collection felt a bit disconnected from the reality of modern day women. To put it bluntly, it all looked very cerebral and abstract, with no genuine life past the flatness of the image. Arbesser has just been appointed creative director of Fay, the sporty Diego Della Valle-owned brand. It will be a good reality check for Arbesser. He just has to channel his personal energy.