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Milan Fashion Week: a note on Jil, Prada and critics

As attendees decamp to Paris, Milan’s designers have criticism ringing in their ears. But is it justified?

Strangely for the nonna of world fashion, this instalment of Milan Fashion Week felt fresh, young even. Colour was zingy, print was playful and uplifting and silhouette swayed from flirty and feminine to sophisticated and sexy. It was enough to put a smile on even the most battle-hardened critics’ faces.

There was also a sense of new beginnings. Jil Sander presented her first womenswear collection since returning to the house she set up in 1968. Despite having her name over the door, following the Raf Simons era in which the Belgian had taken Sander’s minimal formula and recontextualised it in a beautiful and considered way is no small undertaking. Succeeding one of, if not the, most talented designers in the world right now (a bold statement we know), Sander was almost on a hiding to nothing, something that was borne out by the initial reactions that varied from respect for the designer’s unwavering dedication to her sparse aesthetic to condemnation for not having moved with the times. I was rather taken with it, but then I am a huge advocate of the minimalist and modernist movements so Jil Sander and Cos are naturally right up my Bauhaus building-lined strasse.

Another collection that divided opinion was seen at Prada, where the snazzy carpets and star-studded walkers of autumn were replaced with a dark, sultry and stripped-back show for spring. The conversational jolliness of the last spring collection seems a lifetime ago, let alone barely a year. Twitter was afire with fanboys and detractors trading virtual blows over this most Marmite of collections. As with Burberry Prorsum’s London show, I think this will be a grower but I can’t help worry about the fur pieces and heavy colour jarring against those of other labels in the bursting wardrobes of luxury fans. Furthermore, it won’t half look depressing and boring in store.

That said, the proof of the pudding (hopefully not a yeast extract product-based one) will be in the eating, or rather wearing – in a way it’s irrelevant what criticism or praise is heaped on a collection as long as the designers know and understand their customers and create collections accordingly. And if they want a crisp white shirt or Japanese flatform sandals we should let Jil Sander and Miuccia Prada get on with it.

Ian Wright, Fashion Director, Drapers
ian.wright@emap.com

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