For all the talk doing the rounds this week about the importance of Made in Italy and the creativity that can only happen in-house, it’s been difficult, when viewing the catwalk from afar, to see the reasons why. To be convincing, the arguments need to be viewed up-close. This season in Milan, they were best made by accessories. Most of all, by shoes – footwear hasn’t been this intricate and involved since the platform took over the world all those years ago.
At SW1, Stuart Weitzman’s upmarket collection now in its second season, designer Alvaro Gonzalez introduced the “barefoot sandal”, a high, wedgelike platform that supports the toe and heel but leaves the arch of the foot free to float in the air (especially when emphasised by a tiny golden monkey sitting where a sole would normally be).
At Casadei, Cesare Casadei produced the “blade heel”, an épée-thin stiletto that took seasons to perfect and is now made of steel, the better to slice through any crowd.
Metal popped up too at Sergio Rossi, where Francesco Russo’s hammered bronze stiletto of former collections reappeared as the trompe l’oeil skinny heel on a Memphis-inspired wedge.
The bag collection at Valextra also had a metallic shine, with the first-ever necklace-like chain decorating little “disco” shoulder bags and evening purses. As its debut would indicate, this isn’t any old chain, but rather a row of squared-off metal Xs interspersed with rounded links of their signature leather. According to chief executive Emanuele Carminati Molina, it took “two years” for an artisan in Florence to perfect.
Meanwhile, Brian Atwood crafted cork into paper-thin flowers and used holographic material to create a filigree, lacelike stiletto; at René Caovilla, twine was used to frame giant jewels on flat sandals and soaring evening shoes; and at Zoraide, Plexiglas-stacked heels on candy-coloured strappy or sequinned dance shoes were painted on the inside for an extra-special customised effect.
Indeed, the elevation of the everyday to the elite is almost a trend in itself, with Furla creating yet more versions of its Candy bag – one in degrade rubber for a sunset effect, and another with real snakeskin trim. It reached its apogee at Tod’s in a new “couture” line featuring the brand’s signature pebble-soled driving shoe reimagined in evermore elaborate ways: with a rainbow-coloured beaded fringe or, in the case of one pink and grey snakeskin pair, with matching pink and grey semi-precious stones atop the exotic material.
Most of the shoes came with matching bags, as did the bright florals at Jimmy Choo, where a painted hothouse bouquet was laser-printed on white python booties and stacked heels, clutches and slouchy shoulder bags to create an extra-vivid Pop art effect.
“This is not like other parts of the luxury industry,” said new Choo chief executive Pierre Denis, noting that revenues at one of the brand’s stores in Italy were down, but up at the other stores, and positive in the rest of Europe. “It’s still very strong.”