Armani, Bally, Ferragamo: the last days in Milan

MILAN — If Tomo Koizumi’s clouds (and caterpillar) of effervescent color were the exclamation point at the end of Milan Fashion Week for next fall, Giorgio Armani’s collection was the bronze glow. He named it “Cipria”, which translates as “face powder”, and explains why the models were put on with a clear emphasis on the cheekbones and temples. The effect was a subtle diffusion of the heightened makeup favored by fashion photographer Guy Bourdin, whose radical and provocative work from the 1970s and 1980s is currently (excitingly) on display at the Armani exhibition space in Milan.

These were, of course, the years when Armani was blazing its own revolutionary path in fashion. In the exhibition’s wall text, Armani notes that although they apparently had very little in common, “Bourdin didn’t follow the crowd and he didn’t make concessions and I can relate to that.” He then adds tellingly, “I don’t believe there’s any other way to leave a mark on the collective imagination.”

You can look at the collection Armani showed on Sunday and see the lack of compromise, however subtle, in flowing tunics over delicately ruffled trousers, or in the black velvet drape of a piano shawl with metallic fringes, or, indeed, the general saturation of the clothes languor, like an opiate dream evoked from a silent film. The models had kissable curls. As the show progressed, their heads were covered with beaded fringes like flapper hats. Armani has always made movies in his head, but now they’re more seductively idiosyncratic than ever. Like the late period of a great artist, when he looks inward, not outward, and seeks succor in intimacy rather than grand gestures.

In fact, almost all fashion designers are making movies in their heads. And it is the prerogative of youth to get involved with the grand gesture. Hence, Maximilian Davis and Rhuigi Villaseñor, the two young Turks hired to transfigure Ferragamo and Bally, respectively. Both opted for the same guiding principle: desire. I mean, if a designer doesn’t understand that desire is the driver of fashion, then he’s in the wrong business. Desire can have many faces in fashion: I want to be brighter, I want to be more real, I want to be funnier, I want to be sexier. Davis and Villaseñor opt for the path of least resistance – sex. In this, they can count on the expert tutelage of ancestors like Versace and Ford. Villaseñor, in particular, did a great job channeling Ford in his first season for Bally. This time he expanded his repertoire, infusing his collection with a gross opulence that possibly erred on the side of excess. Like the most fetishized patrician costume and riding boots. It can fairly be said that this was the fanciful root of Ralph Lauren’s empire-building, and like Ralph, Rhuigi is the consummate outsider, the Filipino boy who has lived in the United States for 20 years without a passport, nose pressed against the city ​​and country. window. One lesson he will learn from the experience of his patron saint, Tom Ford, is the power of the raised eyebrow. You can’t take yourself too seriously with this particular view. His set would have benefited from the effervescence of a disco beat, rather than the stentorian electronics that drowned him in self-importance. But Rhuigi is 31 years old. He practically has a lifetime to learn.

Maximilian Davis is four years younger. Speaking of grand gestures, his second performance for Ferragamo was staged against an imposing navy wall that looked like it had been commissioned by Richard Serra (although Villaseñor could claim Leonard de Vinci’s home as its from him local… wait, I digress). And I wouldn’t have been surprised, given the way the art world now seems to bow to the fashion world. More than her debut, Davis tapped into her own body-conscious leanings with this new collection. He was austere and cool, and also had a bit of a sly edge to him in his celebration of good ol’ red, white, and blue (and yellow). Ferragamo traditionally has deep roots in America, at least in its Old Hollywood incarnation.

If modernizing that kind of glamor is one of the challenges Davis faces, it’s not yet clear how he can do it in a way that will appeal to a new audience. A ruffled silver lame microdress was a glaringly obvious flourish. Still, if Ferragamo has traditionally been an accessories house, there were certainly plenty of impressive handbags. Perhaps this is the platform from which Davis can spread his wings.

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