Italian fashion contrasts: Audacious Pucci, modest Max Mara

AP News
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Posted: Feb 24, 2017 7:48 PM
Italian fashion contrasts: Audacious Pucci, modest Max Mara

MILAN (AP) — Red accents are lighting up the Milan runway, from blood red ensembles to red contrasts in footwear or a simple stripe of color. But not on the lips.

Milan Fashion Week previews for next fall and winter entered their second day on Thursday, with runway shows by Max Mara, Fendi, Pucci, Prada and Moschino.

Max Mara opened the show with deep red ensembles of matching overcoat, trousers and top, while Karl Lagerfeld opted for red boots to set off his creations for Fendi. In both cases, the designers opted for natural lip coloring.

Animal rights activists targeted Milan designers that use fur in their collections, protesting outside Fendi and Max Mara under a banner that strikes a fashionista chord: "Fur makes you look ugly and fat." Protesters urged consumers to take their business to fashion houses that have disavowed the use of fur.

Some highlights from Friday's shows:

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AUDACIOUS PUCCI

Ever feel audacious, but don't want to draw too much attention?

Pucci has just the looks, and the ideal target customer taking the front row: Lindsay Lohan.

The collection was a parade of solid acid tones of green, pink and blue from the brand's archives in slinky fits and 1960s kaftans, that morphed into new Pucci psychedelic paisley prints.

While many looks were sprinkled, even splattered, in sequins, the accent de resistance was long fringe. Bouncy, color-drenched fringe finished trouser legs, trailed from sleeves, and, most enticingly to Lohan, cascaded from big-rimmed raffia-inspired hats to create a privacy screen against the outside world.

The "Mean Girls" actress rushed to her seat just as the models were beginning their strut, raising protests from photographers.

"I want to get one of the hats. I think they are very cool," Lindsay said outside afterward as she waited to be taken to a shoot.

Solid color is the brand's statement of the season, and a bold change for Pucci, a brand known for its prints.

"I really think that Emilio Pucci could be not only a print brand, but also a solid brand," designer Massimo Giorgetti said backstage before the show. "I love this show because all the colors are originally from the archive. It is the right balance between past, the present and future."

Giorgetti took colors from the 1950s and 1960s and added an acid tone. He updated shapes with cut-outs and fringe, including on the boyfriend jeans. And the prints were all new, gracing everything from bodysuits to suitcases.

"You have to respect the brand. But at the same time you have to go with your instinct and your mind," Giorgetti said.

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SEDUCTION EXPLORED — AND QUESTIONED — AT PRADA

Miuccia Prada officially disavows connecting fashion with politics. So let's let the clothes speak for her.

Her latest collection had clear echoes of the protest movement of the 1970s, interwoven with references to today's protests asserting the rights of women and native peoples. Prada's theme: Seduction, and questioning its relevance. And the implicit question: Is this all deja vu all over again?

Of course if you ask Prada, she will deny it all.

And yet: Crocheted bras spoke to a woman's handiwork and suggested a bygone protest era when women shed theirs, even burned them. Furry parkas with full hoods and Eskimo boots, beaded accents and trailing feathers referenced Native American cultures still fighting for control over their resources.

Prada said the collection took off from her menswear looks shown in January, just days before the U.S. presidential inauguration.

The male figure was her starting point "with the idea, with too much power. . And to get back to reality, to people, to a more sensitive atmosphere."

And she did that with decidedly feminine forms and materials. There were mohair dresses with a mermaid ruffle below the knees, crepe dresses with beading and feather accents and satiny gowns with knee-high red boots, clearly made for walking. But there were also marabou feathered slippers.

"Me personally, my point was seduction. How necessary is seduction: Do we use the same instruments as 50 years ago? Women want to appeal and be beautiful, but how if you are intelligent?" Prada asked, adding that this is "an argument that was never discussed and probably we should discuss again."

There was handcrafted knitwear, while tweed and corduroy showed the more assertive, even homely, side. Seduction is, after all, all in the eye of the beholder.

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DEMOCRATIC FASHION

The Max Mara manifesto for next fall and winter is to keep it essential.

Designer Ian Griffiths said in notes that the concept was inspired by "Scandinavian ideas about democratic design," meaning things should look like what they are.

The rigorously monochromatic looks comprised luxury basics of a deceptive simplicity that ran the spectrum from dressy to sporty. The looks were completely void of any decorative touch, and the only contrast was derived from the pumps, from nude to metallic to white, or bags.

The battle horse of the 65-year-old label continues to be the overcoat, appearing also in hybrid forms of camel hair tailored with shearling and knit, or the youthful cardigan coat.

The silhouette was defined by the long pleated skirts and loose-legged trousers peeking out from the overcoats, paired with sheer matching knit turtlenecks. The color palate ranged from an "emphatic red" to gray, camel and cognac. Comfort fashion included big mittens and long hooded knit sweatshirt dresses.

Taking in the show from the front row were "Vampire Academy" actress Zoe Deutch and model Ashley Graham.

"I am here representing curvy women across the world," said Graham, a brand ambassador for Max Mara's sister brand Marina Rinaldi.

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FASHIONABLY MODEST

The Max Mara looks were modest — an easy match for the hijab, an item rarely seen on the Milan runway.

Somalian-American model Halim Aden wore a camel ensemble, including a long belted cashmere trench coat and trousers, finished with a hijab in matching tones and convention-defying white pumps for winter. She also walked on Wednesday for Alberta Ferretti in a black-and-deep blue trench cinched at the waist with a golden buckle, her head wrapped in a dark hijab.

Fashion editor Fatima Helal of the Arab women' lifestyle magazine Zahrat Al Khaleej said that seeing the look on a European runway was encouraging.

"It is nice because we like to find clothes that fit a covered woman, so when you see it on a model it is the best way to buy it. So it is a nice thing," Helal said. "That is the interesting part. It is in Europe with everything that is happening."

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PARLOR GAMES, GLAMOUR GAMES

Watching a Moschino show is like playing a parlor game. And the answer to this round appears to be: Things that get thrown out in the trash.

Jeremy Scott's seasonal fashion provocation was exclaimed on the T-shirt he wore for his end-of-show lap: "Couture is an attitude. It is not a price point."

If the show was making a bigger message, it would be a screed against throw-away consumerism, a paean for sustainability. The clues started with an invitation: a piece of yellow paper printed like a piece of cheese in a mouse trap.

The designer's creations were dressed up as things we discard every day: Packaging, bubble wrap, trash bags, rubber gloves, dry cleaning bags, old lamps and even a Persian carpet. Handbags were in the shape of a lone sneaker and toilet paper rolls.

A series of coats, dresses and suits in packing-paper tan were printed with typical postal phrases: This side up, handle with care, fragile. These were followed by bubble wrap dresses with silver accents. Then there were a series of looks that appeared to be made from the pages of discarded fashion magazines. Once Scott gets going, there is little to hold him back and the collection hit a crescendo with a black vinyl dress (a trash bag) with a trash can top as a headpiece and a shower curtain peplum dress with shower cap bodice and headdress.

The new capsule collection, available in stores immediately, is called Rat-a-porter, headlined by fashion-conscious mice that appear on T-shirts, bags and iPhone covers.

Singers Fergie and Charlie XCX took in the show from the front row.

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This version corrects that Graham is brand ambassador for Marina Rinaldi alone and not Max Mara.

Follow Colleen Barry on Twitter: https://twitter.com/collbarry