Milan Fashion Week: runway report 1

And so to Milan, where fashion week coincides almost exactly with the final throes of the Italian electoral campaigns. Though this would theoretically seem an unfortunate thing – who wants to think about fluffy stuff such as style when the country’s future is at stake? – there is something oddly appropriate about the timing.

The economy, after all, is a crucial topic for every candidate, and luxury is among the few very healthy industries in Italy. In this context, fashion week becomes a showcase for what could, or should, be.

So it was only logical to begin the merry-go-round with Gucci, which has made something of a fetish out of “Made in Italy” – fetish being the operative word. In a collection rife with what creative director Frida Giannini called “devious touches” – think leather cuffs on gloves, elbow-length and otherwise, fishnet tights and witch’s booties – they upped the material ante with “exclusive textiles” in python, leather, Astrakhan, feathers and goat’s hair; as well as three-dimensional metallic-embroidery on sleeves and up the sides of skirts and trousers.

The silhouette was dominatrix-strict, save for arms and shoulders with an exaggerated curve, and the occasional couture portrait-neckline on a sheath dress. As for the evening wear, it mixed satin and sheer lace net shirts bristling with fern frond embroidery made from multicoloured feathers and paillettes.

If it was all a bit heavy-handed and literal, and it was (hard to imagine anyone wearing a form-fitting leather polo neck under a wool suit without fainting from heat exhaustion; hard to imagine anyone wearing a high-waisted blue satin pant jumpsuit with sheer top, period), it also set a don’t-mess-with-us tough luxe tone that felt resonant beyond the catwalk.

Like the clothes themselves or not, what the brand stands for – country, heritage, employment – gives it real power. Ms Giannini may have overplayed the sartorial subtext. But no candidate should ignore the point: not of the soaring heels on her ostrich skin stiletto boots, or what they represent.

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