Could it really be that the Jil Sander label is now in full recovery having been pummelled for years by the comings and goings of its label’s namesake and founder? Finally, it seems, the brand that was adored by working women the world over under Sander (and adored by fashion disciples under Raf Simons), has begun a fresh new chapter. The big surprise here is that a virtually unknown designer Rodolfo Paglialunga may have just come up with the hit of the Milan s/s 2015 season.
Paglialunga, formerly behind the scenes as director of womenswear at Prada, followed by a two-year stint as creative director at Vionnet, and possibly the least likely candidate to reshape Jil Sander, has done exactly that by serving up clothes we want to wear. Right now.
His outsized Bermuda shorts may sound tricky but they will be next spring/summer’s culottes. Those narrow wrap skirts with high waists will be the new ballet skirt. And we’ll definitely be donning those tank tops and buying his button-down shirts and rolling up the sleeves, as styled in the show. It all looked Jil Sander-worthy without being sacrificed on the minimalist altar. What struck most was its effortlessness. When most designers take on a big league brand, they too often suffer under the weight of pressure and it can take seasons before they hit their stride. Not so here. ‘I wanted to make every day clothes for real life,’ said Paglialunga backstage, who mixed mens and womenswear in a fresh, relevant way. Perhaps the reason it looked so appealing was because the designer didn’t spend any time looking at the Sander archives: ‘I haven’t checked them out at all. I have the utmost respect for Ms Sander, but I know her work so well, I grew up with it, respecting it. And I didn’t want to just make a copy. All I want is for women to enjoy wearing these clothes.’ It was the most positive start from a designer we’re about to hear a lot more about.
The models who stalked the Emilio Pucci runway certainly looked like they enjoyed wearing the clothes. Pucci’s Peter Dundas positively exults in the female form and, to prove it, has no problem in enlisting the world’s most beautiful women to carry it all off. Naomi Campbell swooshed out in a tie-dye-swirling kaftan; Natasha Poly made a rare appearance in bodycon macramé, embellished with tiny flower embroideries and silver studs; Kendall Jenner floated by in ocean-hued chiffon, Joan Smalls in a micro-beaded web of chiffon… Remember summer? All that sun and fun, feeling carefree and optimistic – that’s what Peter Dundas’s clothes are made of. So what if he keeps circling back to the late 1960s meets Burning Man festival? His hippies never looked more glamorous. There are so few designers putting out clothes that are as sexy as they are joyful, it made you smile – and long for summer.
When Roberto Cavalli does colour, few can touch his exuberance. Particularly when it comes in sweeping kaleidoscopic striped sundresses and super-light pleated kaftans that hark back to where it all began for the designer. This is how his collection opened and it was a welcome surprise. Cavalli is king of a certain jet set – not for him minimalism in any shape or form – his woman wants to be the centre of attention at all cost and his designs are therefore never knowingly under-embellished. Despite the occasional hard as nails skirt suits – one in lacquered black python, another in sci-fi silver (for no apparent reason) – he went on to treat his beloved leopard print, lace, shredded denim and crystal with the utmost care – not to over-do them. There were a few eveningwear clangers – such as a jumpsuit sprouting ostrich feathered legs – but the final multicoloured gowns cut out to reveal bare backs were just the thing for any look-at-ME superstar.
Giorgio Armani took sand and sea as his theme, opening the show with a film by Oscar-winning director Paolo Sorrentino. It featured a man and a woman lying entwined on a beach and cut to rolling waves and the volcanic landscapes of Lipari and Stromboli. The collection felt like a metaphor for those bodies lying asleep on the beach – all was tranquil, soft and hazy to the point of hypnosis. Cloud-like chiffon trousers breezed by, sometimes anchored by a uniform-like jacket or floated under beaded dresses that sparkled like light on water. Armani took more of a scalpel to a pair of sharp white trouser suits, but the dreamy softness prevailed in the designer’s signature greige and translucent blues, culminating in nude chiffon gowns that twisted around the body with all the ease and elegance one would expect of the Italian fashion titan.
Tomas Maier covered fresh ground at Bottega Veneta – sweatpants, sweatshirts, the now blonde Edie Campbell in a leotard with a chunky cardigan hugging her slender shoulders. ‘I was thinking about dance, though not so much the performance aspect than, say, a dancer on her way to rehearsal,’ said the creative director. It was refreshing to see Bottega go casual – with the all-pervasive trainer as footwear. But above all, Maier is the master of dresses with a quiet, cool intelligence and, as ever, there were no shortage of them. He focused on the calf-length ballet dress – sometimes covered in a fine layer of tulle or in weathered denim – and sliced them with a maze of inside-out seams that conveyed the sense of the body in motion. As the collection progressed, so too did the embellishment – rivulets of sequins or caviar beads cascaded down full skirts and added the essential luxury we have come to expect from Maier’s light hand. And very beautiful it looked too.