In Milan, Talent Emerges from Behind Bare Walls
Discerning the difference between the shows that put on a show and the shows that show.
I noticed at the Ferragamo show yesterday that the decor was optic white. The walls weren’t flat — 3-D panels with quadrilateral cutouts emerged from them — but for the most part, this show was either about who was watching it, or who would walk in it. Of course, once the models began their traipse, onlookers forgot about their seat-mates and the faces across from them to acknowledge a color palette constructed only from black, gold, brown and navy. Skirts were mid-length — a trend we’ve seen prominently hold its own all season-and-beyond heretofore. Blouses featured gradation work from gold to black and the boots, though indubitably uncomfortable, were the stuff It-Shoes are made of.
At Marni, though the walls weren’t optic white per se (the floor was, however, pink), they were stripped away enough that the show was about the clothing and the clothing only. And why wouldn’t it be? As one of Consuelo Castiglioni’s strongest collections to date, fall/winter 2014 offered the essence of Marni on steroids. Patterns? Check. Chunky shoes? Of course. The cocoon shoulders were rounder, boxy tops looser, peplums became more exaggerated, and there was an inconsistent though completely deliberate (and therefore in place) use of fur in colors and stripes. Also of note: the feather skirts and hair that vaguely made the models look like they were wearing backward baseball caps.
But I digress.
My point is, in a similar vein to that of Prada’s, the Marni show didn’t need to put on a spectacle — a production that would elicit a million camera clicks even before the models would start walking. The shows were about the clothes and the decors was about supporting the clothes.
But this isn’t to say that when designers create spectacles-as-sets (setacles?) it’s a bad thing. You think of a show like Roberto Cavalli‘s, which took place on Saturday and quite literally functioned as Hell on Earth (there was a ring of fire around the runway and it was hot), and you wonder why he wouldn’t put on a show in the performative sense.
Though it was a bit harder to pay full attention to the clothing (you’re far too busy wondering whether a) anyone’s hair will catch fire, b) any of the editors will take off their colorful Prada furs in a 100 degree room), his aesthetic has been so indelibly inscribed into the brand’s DNA that it doesn’t really matter.
Rick Owens, who hails from a distinctly elevated plane, and his last tango with runway fashion was the first step (pun intended, cue the dancers) in the direction of runway shows becoming a billboard for brands. In Milan, Moschino has followed suit (though with its clothes) and all I’m left to wonder is this: When what you think you’ll get is almost always exactly what you get, does it really matter what you show? Or is it all in how you show it?
Images via Vogue and Now Fashion