March 2, 2012 9:51 pm

Mix and match

From rubber to python, the accessories in Milan come in an intriguing combination of materials

It’s all about the mix,” said Simon Holloway, Jimmy Choo’s co-creative director, while showing off knee-high stiletto psychedelic python boots mixed with fur as inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Kate Moss, and bags of the same, dangling long suede fringes. As it happens, he was talking about his brand but he could just as well have been summing up the Italian season – at least in accessories. If the runways were notably pared-down, the shoes and bags off-piste were notably paired-up, not with each other but via unexpected, often technically challenging, always intriguing combinations of materials.

René Caovilla boots

René Caovilla boots

At Furla, for example, its popular Candy Bag, a rubber doctor’s bag in M&M colours, was dressed up and transformed via a strip of pony skin or python at the base, which lent what had been a funky, funny, piece an edge of elegance that made it adult and work-appropriate. Likewise, at René Caovilla, the ever-expanding collection (it’s not just delicate, crystal-garlanded stilettos any more, though they are still there) grew even further thanks to the addition of wellies: black rubber bottoms married, in riding boot style, to a coated lace calf, perfect for waltzing in the rain.

Stiletto-heeled shoe by SW1

Stiletto-heeled shoe by SW1

At SW1, Stuart Weitzman’s new high-end line designed by Alvaro Gonzalez (late of Jimmy Choo), chains on shoulder bags – chic, flat and boxy, with nary a logo in sight – came covered in leather or python for a matte, super-chic finish (“I was trying to figure out how not to be Chanel,” said Gonzalez), and resin heels of mid-calf boots and pumps were inlaid to produce a mosaic-like effect.

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As for Tod’s, mink or astrakhan or even suede fringing came framed by leather in its classic D bag, while double platforms (leather inside; rubber with treads outside) made its buckled ankle boot/shoes practically self-propelling. At Zoraide, thin silver chain highlights became the not-so-heavy metal counterparts to stack-heeled loafers and, for its part, Bally mixed leather with everything – mink, and double face cashmere, dresses and coats and bags – because “it’s in the DNA of the house”, said co-designer Graeme Fidler.

Perhaps the most out-of-the-box combination, however, came from Valextra, where Kevlar had been married to nylon to create a material that could withstand up to 80,000 strokes (it’s called the Martindale abrasion test; most domestic fabrics are made to last to 20,000) and used in suitcases, iPad cases and other travel essentials, all trimmed in classic leather, and, in the case of the suitcases, on Pirelli wheels.

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