How Milan's SS18 Shows Became The Week Of Throwback Fashion

Milan has been awash in nostalgia.

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If you're a Xennial, the spring/summer '18 shows in Milan might earn a special soft spot with you. Especially after a week in which the original supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, Carla Bruni, Claudia Schiffer and Helena Christensen reunited to close the Versace show, My Little Pony made a runway appearance at Moschino and Prada brought back its top selling nylon bag.

This season, Italy's fashion world has been awash in nostalgia with designers behind the country's mega-brands mining the archives and reviving some of their greatest hits. And it's made for a feel-good respite from a month of bad global news.


Whether you'd call this optimism or wilful delusion, you can probably agree that a news feed full of supermodels in Versace chain mail makes a nice, if fleeting, moment of relief from a news cycle of earthquakes, dotards, and hurricanes.

Fendi ss18

Fendi ss18

The week of throwbacks began at Gucci, where the brand's archival monogrammed bags from the Eighties made a comeback. After re-introducing the popular classic in his resort collection, Michele doubled down on the idea and used the bags to accessorise a slew of richly decorated looks. Call it the Dapper Dan affect?

The Harlem icon who became famous in the Eighties for cleverly co-opting the logos of Italian luxury brands like Gucci and Fendi on his own designs was sitting front row.

Gucci ss18

Speaking of Fendi, the brand had a throwback moment of its own the next day in its logo-tastic collection. Karl Lagerfeld used its iconic inverted Fs (branding he created for the house in 1965) on skirts, jackets, hosiery and all manner of accessories. But once again, it was the monogrammed bags, in the same brown leather that was so popular in the Eighties and Nineties, that stood out as a talking point.

Prada ss18

Prada ss18

At Prada, Miuccia revived and updated her best-selling black nylon carryall (one of the original It bags of the Nineties), reinventing it as a fanny pack, satchel and cross body bag embellished with studs and strips of leather.

The functionality of those pieces underscored the militant feminist thread running through her clothes (tailored coats covered in female super heroes, tomboyish cotton shirts and coats and jackets rolled up at the sleeves and pushed above the elbows.)

Prada ss18

Moschino ss18

Later that night, Moschino epitomised every Xennial's childhood by bringing back My Little Pony, Jeremy Scott's pop culture reference of choice this season. He used it everywhere: on pastel coloured t-shirts, sweatshirts, tracksuits, you name it. There was even a My Little Pony lunch box and Thermos — exact replicas of the ones sold in the Eighties.

And then there was of course the moment that broke the Internet, Versace's supermodel summit during the emotional finale to Donatella's tribute show honouring her brother Gianni.

Versace ss18

Recognising the 20 year anniversary of the founding designer's shocking murder, the show doubled as a retrospective of his work, featuring many of his most iconic prints and pieces from the early to mid Nineties: the Warholian pop art print emblazoned with the faces of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, the gold and black swirls from his graphic Baroque series, the maximalism of his Animalia collection and the bejewelled leather jackets from his iconic autumn '91 show, the latter of which was recreated when Carla, Claudia, Cindy, Naomi and Helena walked down the runway, mouthing the lyrics to George Michael's Freedom! 90 just as they had done 26 years ago.

Versace ss18

A tribute collection of t-shirts bearing the designer's memorable prints is on sale now.

The Versace tribute aside, it's telling that so many Milanese designers are pulling out bestsellers from the archives at a time when luxury fashion as a business is at a crossroads.

It seems like a no-brainer, when the life cycle of trends gets ever shorter while the price of clothing, shoes and bags inch higher and higher. Not to mention there's a certain comfort in investing in longevity, spending on familiar pieces that have withstood time. Let's just hope that in this moment of looking backward, fashion doesn't lose sight of the thrill in the new.

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