The recently concluded Milan Fashion Week was different; it was new, relevant and contemporary. The designers, new and old, awoke their avant-garde selves and armed themselves with ideas, designs and people who were important to the changing times; this is the period of a renaissance, the constant change, the revival, the rediscovery and the regeneration. This period of renaissance, with the raging political turmoil in all fields from theology to gender has given our designers, our fashion artists a new tool for creativity. They are all leading us to a belle époque, a period where there will be peace and acceptance. We are in a period of identification and not discrimination.
From transgender to homosexuals everyone seemed to be carving a piece for themselves at the Fashion Week. The Milan fashion week was also a culmination of various eras ranging from Fendi’s 1940s inspired collection to Versace’s 1980s emboldened collection.
With the #metoo movement most designers took it upon themselves to dive deeper into the issues of discriminations surrounding highly specific gender roles. The increasing rape culture in the society and objectification gave the designers a motivation to create artful pieces that reminded us of the contemporary times. They reminded us of the weakening gender roles, that women were not weak and that it’s okay to be a transgender. Gender representation at Milan fashion week was not just binary but an entire spectrum. The Prada collection was showcased with a dark and grunge atmosphere symbolising the dark times where women continue to face hostilities. This statement was demonstrated by talented models who wore gumboots, corporate IDs, strong stiff coats with a hint of feminine touch via clothes with blurred floral prints and new age Prada logos on the accessories. The Prada collection was an art form just like Miuccia Prada had wanted. The Versace show was fun, flirty and sexy all mixed together to form a beautiful representation of today’s women from all age groups and all walks of life. The sexy little black dresses, tight leather pants, bright plaid prints was all a 1980s affair.
The Gucci show was highly inspired by “A Cyborg Manifesto” by Donna Haraway. In today’s times we have men dressing up in a feminine manner and vice versa and Gucci’s show was a demonstration of how we need to let go of the various labels that divide us in the society. The show called for a reinvention, resurrection and regeneration and it had that clinical and surgical approach to it, Alessandro Michele felt that the entirety of the creative process has an ability to be cut open and see it transpire. Today’s world is directed by technology and social media. We are finding our own personal identities, our own brand and in a way this procedure becomes like that of soul-searching because we are moving away from the labels that have been given to us from the society, shunning them and being born again and adopting something that has been created by us, with retrospection as well as introspection. Just like in the essay by Haraway, Alessandro Michele too takes a very gender fluid take on his show where all labels are shunned.
Anok Yai and Adut Akech could’ve easily been called the stars of the show. Anok opened the Prada show, the first black woman to do so after Naomi Campbell in 1995. The two models of colour represented a section that has been oppressed, enslaved and discriminated against in the past. With the models of different races and ethnicities walking on the ramp at Milan the entire fashion week became intersectional in nature. There was representation for not just the women but the transgender as well and it is important that in this era of increasing feminism against the restrictive standards of society we are all inclusive irrespective of our race, class, caste, creed and gender just like what Cyborg tries to portray. This renaissance period is for everyone.
The Dolce and Gabbana show was a commentary on religion, especially with the set façade paying homage to Dolce’s birth place in Sicily. Even though being gay, they both recognise themselves as Catholic and don’t believe in the concept of middlemen hindering their conversations with the god. The show was also very relevant and technologically contemporary with the drones carrying little Dolce and Gabbana purses. This was extremely important because almost every show at Milan Fashion Week had used high technology and social media tools to make them adapt to today.
Jeremy Scott was political at the back stage supporting Emma Gonzalez and the movement for gun control. What he brought to stage was a conspiracy theory he believed to have taken place. His collection was heavily inspired by the 1960s era, an era of Jackie-O and Marilyn Monroe with skirtsuits and flirtatious and loud exciting sparkling gowns. A few of the models were painted in neon colours representing the aliens which JFK believed existed. Another political take on this could be Trump’s anti-immigration agenda.
Accessories were a big part of the show and they didn’t just stop at earrings or bags. Fake severed heads, dogs and fake baby dragons were used as well to explain the relevance of the show. Tod’s use of dogs as accessories was probably an ode to 2018 being the Chinese year of the dog.
The culmination of different eras all the way from 1940s to the 60s and then the 80s with a spin of the contemporary 21st century was seen as well. Fendi mixed the demure plaid dresses of the 1940s to the stiff and boxy shoulders of 1980s to combine elements of feminine and power. The show used elements of delicacy with the silk neckerchiefs as well as cowboy boots, a contrast and yet in this representation they represented both a bold woman as well as a demure woman.
The show was empowering the women to say the least with Prada’s message of wanting them to come on the streets to fight against the perpetrators of abuse to Versace’s celebration of women young and old with a dash of fun and eclectic to Fendi’s tribute femininity and Gucci’s celebration of gender fluidity. All were accepted and everyone felt included. In the end Milan Fashion week was a celebration of humanity above everything else.