MILAN, Italy — “This is the first time I’ve been excited in a long while,” said Damir Doma before his womenswear debut in Milan after eight years showing in Paris. “I never really felt like a Parisian designer.” Which makes sense for a guy who was only recently lavished with praise as “a modern Armani.” Although Doma quickly shot that down by adding, “I don’t feel like a Milanese designer either.” Meaning that his signature soft tailoring, his monastic volumes and cerebral draping and his mysterious textures have always been pretty sui generis for the Croatian-born, Berlin-signed, Antwerp-sealed thirty-something. Wherever Doma lays his hat, that’s his home.
But, as with those two designers, minimalism has run its course as a descriptive for Doma’s work. To refer back to that Armani ref, there was the same intense spotlight thrown on fabric, with fine silks, crepes and cottons allowed to fall in ways that honoured the body. There was a poetry in the casual knotting and cinching, and in Doma’s flair for the unfinished. There was even a sleekness, which cast the more tribal drapes in a lumpen light. But after nearly a decade in business, it must feel energising to Doma to be the new boy in town.