MILAN (AP) — Premier Matteo Renzi opened Milan Fashion Week for the first time, signaling a fresh government focus on the strategic center of Italian fashion.
Putting the emphasis on youth, Italy's youngest premier posed near Milan's Duomo cathedral Wednesday with a host of emerging and newly established designers who in recent years have given new impulse to Milan's fashion runways.
Renzi has indicated that he wants to better showcase and unify Italy's coveted design and fashion industries, encompassing also footwear, handbags and eyewear, in a yet-undefined initiative.
Also joining the premier at lunch were some of Milan's mainstays, including Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace, Ermenegildo Zegna and Ermanno Scervino, as well as the head of the Milan Fashion Chamber Carlo Capasa and Conde Nast creative director Anna Wintour.
But the first day of womenswear previews for fall-winter 2016-17 belonged to young, if established, talent, with Alessandro Michele previewing his collection at Gucci and Peter Dundas showing his first women's cold weather wear looks for Roberto Cavalli. Both designers took the helm of major Italian fashion houses last year, representing a generational shift.
Some highlights from Wednesday's shows:
Alessandro Michele's latest Gucci collection opened like a box of confections, full of frothy surprises.
In the year-plus since he took over as creative director, Michele has made pretty and frilly centerpieces of the Gucci wardrobe, with Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore among those spotted on red carpets in Michele's more romantic creations.
In this collection, long diaphanous dresses flowed from an embroidered silk asymmetrical off-the-shoulder bodice or finished in a boa rainbow. Ruffles were no longer only an accoutrement but the very architecture of the looks, from a tiered black ruffle and lace number with Michele's trademark snake winding up the neckline, to a layered red ruffled cape.
One dress exemplified Michele's aesthetic: a sheer aqua gown with puffy, princess sleeves and golden belt that had its femininity toughened with athletic wear accents: a panther sequin logo on the bodice and No. 25 on the back.
Ultra-feminine pink and aquamarine created the air of a 1950s housewife out on the town in some of the softer looks, including a mini-length furry coat, while architecturally puffed shoulders updated jackets from the Gucci trench to a leather bomber with an edgier feel.
Amid all that eclecticism, guided by what Michele described in notes as "a principle of connection and heterogeneity," perhaps most surprising was the more prominent return of some old standards, including the double GG logo, albeit in nonstandard apparitions like baby blue, the horse-bit print on a day skirt, and pretty suits with contrasting lapels or cuffed trousers.
In a sign of the times, private security with sniffer dogs checked out guests arriving at the Gucci venue in a disused customs railway depot.
Fausto Puglisi's watchword for next fall and winter: Have fun. The designer certainly did.
Puglisi, a Sicilian by birth who got his first fashion break in America, pulled together favorite inspirations and motifs from his native and adopted countries for his latest collection: palm trees, cowboy boots, futuristic prints, ecclesiastical silhouettes and baroque accents.
"This season I said, Fausto, don't be afraid. Do what you like," the designer said backstage. "In the end I like classic women, sexy women, conservative women, strong women, independent women, outrageous women. I like all women."
Puglisi unites the collection with his graphic sense, bold color blocks and prints, and an eye for silhouettes, pairing a stiff, flouncy skirt that screams fun with a laid-back baseball jacket, or tucking preppy cable knits into high-leather miniskirts.
Looks are finished with Acme catalog-inspired cowboy boots, half-laced biker boots or gladiator sandals that buckle all the way up the thigh.
The craftsmanship of the line was on display in a series of sequined embroideries that tied together the collection's motifs, including baroque swirls decorating the length of a long dress with the sturdy silhouette of an ecclesiastical vestment.
Backstage, Puglisi pondered industry chatter about hastening the six-month turnaround from runway to store to satisfy easily distracted consumers.
"People should understand if you make something that is about research and luxury and beauty, it needs time," Puglisi said.
Even while venturing back in time to the Belle Epoque era, Peter Dundas' latest collection for Roberto Cavalli remains rooted in the rock'n'roll '60s and '70s.
The languid looks were strong on glamour and workmanship, from the ephemeral sheer beaded evening dresses in pale shades to the colorful patchwork fur coats worthy of any rock star: art nouveau meets Janis Joplin.
"Decadence, superstition, mysticism, Gustav Klimt, Aubrey Beardsley things that give me a kick," Dundas said backstage, describing his inspirations.
He said the Roberto Cavalli woman for the season is "a little wild and instinctive."
The Cavalli animal print for next winter is tiger, in long skirts and short bomber jackets, while denim gets its due with a long trailing coat and flared embroidered jeans. Looks were finished with long scarves tied casually around the neck, makeup hastily done and hair loose and natural.
Notwithstanding the labor involved in his creations, Dundas says he would like to see his collections get into stores more quickly than the current system permits.
"I wish I could. I am working on it," Dundas.