MILAN, Italy — In Milan, romanticism isn't just about frills and bows, thank goodness. Images of Blitz kids and visceral artists such as Marina Abramovich — in her 1970s heyday — and Yoko Ono were pinned to the Costume National moodboard backstage at the brand's show today. It was an interesting clash of inspirations, which designer Ennio Capasa summed up with the title 'Romantic Wave,' addressing his heartfelt desire to look at the future with a poetic gaze.
Keeping his trademark edgy, angular cuts, mixing androgyny with riffs of a softer, sparkly femininity, Capasa delivered one of his strongest collections in recent memory. After a few weak seasons, the designer's very own brand of cool — sensual and tailored, never too confrontational — was back on track. It made for an unremitting line-up of multi-layered coats and floaty dresses, slouchy pantsuits and street-savvy pajamas. Costume National's edginess got a soft, but never sugary spin and it felt fresh.
The quest for that most intangible of qualities — coolness — is never ending. Most of the time, it boils down to a styling trick. But with this in mind, it's always quite interesting to see what Max Mara, a bastion of timelessness and evolved classicism, does with its show, as the action on the catwalk can often feel quite extreme compared to what ultimately hits the shops floor.
The show notes, quite confusingly, addressed Bauhaus, Dada and Modernism as sources of inspiration, but it looked like elegant dissonance was high on the design team's agenda. Think stripes and lots of them — at times too overtly reminiscent of a seminal Prada collection — and a general inversion of the codes of night- and day-wear.
The opening look, a classic coat, glowing in sequins, made a statement. When paired with ribbed shorts, the house's trademark outerwear was charged with a zing of youthful sensuality. All in all, it worked well: this is one Max Mara collection that, broken in pieces, could actually translate pretty seamlessly into commercial product.
View Collection Last season, Massimo Giorgetti's debut as the creative director of the house of Pucci left his audience a little bit puzzled. His drive to modernise the brand was clear but it didn't materialise clearly on the catwalk. Having learned from previous mistakes, this time around, Giorgetti delivered the goods. His own Pucci is fast, printed, logoed and young, pitched to satisfy the rabid appetites of millennials.
Taking inspiration from Emilio as the glamourous prince of skiing, Giorgetti revived the athletic heritage of the house, something that was lost in the hands of previous designers. The play of big and body-conscious proportions owed a debt to both the new Vuitton and the new Paco Rabanne, but it worked well, while the prints and refracted geometries felt vitalising.