Of all the fashion truisms we at TPOF like to push, perhaps the central one is that good style, or anything that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, requires a fairly precise level of contrast. The final result can’t be too much of one quality, but it also can’t be too mismatched. Many studies, in fact, confirm that this is what the human perception finds “stylish” - pairings that are complementary yet different. Not too matchy-matchy, to put it casually. This offset comes more naturally to fashion cities such as New York and London, cities of contrasts in themselves. And maybe even also to Paris, which while being steeped in tradition, really knows how to remix things - as French hip hop, and restaurants like Kong with its Gallic-Asian plates, demonstrate. Milan, being less diverse than its English-speaking counterparts, and less cool than its French neighbor, struggles. Things are just what things are, in Milan. Espresso is espresso, and it’s short, taken with sugar and cannot be taken to go, much to my dismay. But things are slowly changing, and many of the heritage labels and younger brands alike, are starting to innovate by adding new layers to their sense of Italian luxury. Here are the top five:
Marie Kondo’s oft-quoted prompt ‘does it spark joy?’ is highly applicable to fashion. Not all clothes are meant to spark joy, in particular - some simply calm, some spark confidence, and maybe even trigger a healthy sense of aggression. But in the case of Giorgia Tordini and Gilda Ambrosio’s Attico (Italian for ‘penthouse’), there’s joy bursting from every stitch and seam. The Italian designers have managed to the impossible with their label: create glamorous maximalist pieces that look luxe, modern, and somehow, not the least bit tacky. This season was no exception, with Lindsay Wixson playing dress up in a series of cheerful high-gloss pieces.
Silvia Venturi Fendi and the late Karl Lagerfeld presented a collection with pieces that would delight the house’s traditional customer, millennials, and that generation after - Z is it? The strongest looks were of course, the hybrids, those that contrasted vulnerability and the bourgeois sensibility of Fendi with slicker, avant-garde elements, without quite venturing into Fila territory. Elegant and defiant is a powerful combination - it’s the stuff of strong women everywhere.
3. MONCLER GENIUS BY PIERPAOLO PICCIOLI
Where to start - singing the praises of superstar designer Pierpaolo Piccioli would almost be redundant. While all of the Moncler Genius collections were fitting of the project name, Mr Piccioli’s was showstopping. The images produced from this shoot really retain the eye to linger. The Italian creative director approached model Liya Kebede to input the patterns and aesthetic of her sustainable and socially responsible Ethiopian label Lemlem, bringing a new layer to his couture interpretation of Moncler this season. As a Canadian who loves, and lived in, puffy down jackets, it’s great to finally see them elevated to the level they deserve.
There’s one finding that keeps coming up in fashion psychology - the divide between print people and non-print people. As normally part of the latter, my perception is that heritage house Etro creates prints for non-print people. Detailed and intricate as they are - creative director Veronica Etro took inspiration from the family’s collection of paisley scarves for the brand’s recent 50th anniversary - the prints are still serious. There’s no flowers here. Fused with Victorian and Edwardian elements for FW19, the prints manage to stay chic and heavy-hitting. Standout looks included the mini cocktail dresses, styled with layers that lend a modern edge.
5. ALBERTA FERRETTI
One good measure of a the merit of a designer is their ability to design for different moods while retaining a core personality. With her FW19 collection, Alberta Ferretti demonstrated this versatility with aplomb. This goes beyond day to night. Yes, there was outstanding eveningwear imbued with Ferretti’s usual glamour, but there was also statement knitwear, head-to-toe white ensembles, and great jackets you could wear any ole’ time. Somehow, there was harmony in it all, as Ferretti sure knows the personality of her customer: feminine and conscientious, but with a defiant, adventurous streak.