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Milan Fashion Week

Ian Wright

With Raf Simons and Jil Sander hogging headlines off-catwalk, Milan needed something special to seize back the limelight.

With Raf Simons and Jil Sander hogging headlines off-catwalk, Milan needed something special to seize back the limelight. But a lack of innovation meant it failed to fire the imagination.

Glamour. Decadence. Sex. Milan Fashion Week’s reputation has been built on these three extravagantly decorated pillars for aeons and the autumn 12 season was no different. And that’s just the problem – it was no different. The Milanese megabrands have always traded successfully on their red-blooded passion, their love of la dolce vita, but this season was the first time that fervour didn’t really move the look on.

In an epic week that saw one of the industry’s biggest talents leave the label he’d repositioned and nurtured for seven years only for him to be replaced with that brand’s iconic founder, it was always going to be hard for the clothes to outshine the news.

However, the collections at least should have been able to hold their own against the twittering the Raf Simons/Jil Sander movements created, but the fact of the matter was they didn’t, not because of a lack of quality but a lack of innovation. Trends stood still or saw only minor updates: the cheerful and kitsch patterns of spring 12 were still present at the likes of Bottega Veneta and Dolce & Gabbana, bright colour popped up again at Giorgio Armani and Moschino while the 1960s swung back in at Marni. It was all very nice, very accomplished yet none of it, perhaps bar the impeccable Jil Sander collection and Prada’s beautiful wrongness, was very inspiring nor did it capture the imagination in the way Milan Fashion Week has done in the past.

It seems it’s down to the likes of Umit Benan at Trussardi and the theatrical Antonio Marras to give the Italians a shot of espresso in the arm to shake them out of their Milanese malaise. Coming hot on the skyscraper heels of the strongest London Fashion Week in a long time certainly didn’t help, while preceding some of the most eagerly anticipated Paris shows for seasons, especially Stefano Pilati’s swansong at Yves Saint Laurent, meant Milan’s houses showed their wares with little ceremony. But perhaps they didn’t need to – crucially, the well-planned, beautifully executed collections and standout pieces will still do well with buyers and customers alike because they’re built on those three sturdy pillars.

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