milan fashion week: blumarine
(images via style)
sometimes i wonder if blumarine is misunderstood. fashion critics seem to like to dump all of the shows in the roughly month-long exercise that covers everything from quite accessible labels (like j. crew in new york), to the slightly higher-end (topshop unique in london) to contemporary and bridge (new york’s alexander wang and dkny), more affordable designer (louis vuitton in paris) to the highest and most quality of all (paris’ hermes and chanel). i’m not sure i explained that all that well, and my categories might be up for debate, but i think you can see my point: we’re not talking about houses that work from the same mindset, much less cater to the same customers or run their business models similarly. that’s why i think writers should take into better account what they’re actually dealing with.
now, in past seasons (f/w 2010 & s/s 2012), i’ve given designer anna molinari and her label a bit of hard time too, jovially poking fun at the obvious flash and sex appeal (to say nothing of colour) she clearly can’t stray from, but now i’m beginning to think that’s a bit unfair. true, we’re not talking about the kind of great fashion mind that can compete with top artists in their own right like sarah burton of alexander mcqueen or mary katrantzou, but in terms of providing the kind of brassy sensuality girls who love teased hair, teetering platforms, mixing bubblegum pink with leopard print, giant hoop earrings, and tight corsets that pop the cleavage…doesn’t blumarine satisfy and then some?
no, the house isn’t some sort of elegant, handmade truffle from an exclusive chocolatier, it’s more like rock candy, which is all right with me. and if you’re going to try to argue that we can find plenty of that for plenty cheap, i’d like to throw one thought up for your consideration: doesn’t designer fashion address the various types of style women are looking for, whether it be preppy (ralph lauren), punky (vivienne westwood), girlish (chloe), seductive (dolce & gabbana)…well, you get the idea? so why shouldn’t the girl who adores being known as the flash one, who isn’t concerned about her ladylike appearance, and who wants to flaunt her bod for all its worth get some high-end duds, too? so maybe we ought sit back and try to enjoy it for what it is, considering it on its own level, and not with the rest of the aforementioned, hmm?
actually, uk vogue seemed to try to do just that, in commenting “be sure to put your sunglasses on before you take a look at its autumn/winter 2012-13 collection – it’s very bright. But it’s also very fun - which makes for a change during Milan Fashion Week, given the designers’ penchant for darkness so far (started by Gucci and Fendi). In blue, pink and yellow, Big Bird-style jackets (we spotted one or two at Fendi too), took to the catwalk to open a collection that began with outerwear – the aforementioned and then a series of silver puffer jackets and then masculine macs – and ended in something altogether more youthful. Think little metallic jackets and miniskirts, bejewelled bandeau and scrunched dresses worn with huge hoops. There were some little black dresses too, and of course that signature leopard-rose print.”
but frankly wwd dialed in on the harsher end of things, fully refusing to possibly see that there might be some people who go in for this sort of thing (i want to know where they live that’s so continually fanciful), writing that “’(u)nderstated urbanwear’ was a phrase used in the Blumarine show notes. But judging by the high-voltage impact of the lineup, something was definitely lost in translation. There was little subtlety in Anna Molinari’s bold collection, which lacked focus, but nonetheless provided a zany visual feast and an ultimate testimony to the concept of sensory overload. She started out with promise, offering several fun Mongolian fur coats in cupcake colors worn with white ski suits, and a functional gray double-breasted coat and suit.”
“The wearability index quickly took a nosedive, though,” they continued, “when the designer took a shining (pun intended) to full-on metallics, including a stiff silver PVC trenchcoat, a shiny pink denim jacket with a matching pair of slim trousers, as well as several ensembles fully embellished with iridescent beads. Along the way, Molinari had a bout of spotted fever with head-to-toe leopard prints. Then came the ‘urban’ looks, which included a turquoise puffer jacket teamed with silver leggings, fully sequined in silver except for the word ‘Jolie’ repeated all over, graffiti style in neon colors. They contributed to the sense that the clothes were destined for a special edition Barbie, though it’s possible that the even world’s most famous doll would have second thoughts about some of the designs.”
meanwhile, style was a bit more amused: “The designer’s Fall collection was all about metallics, iridescents, and holograms. It was ‘positively shining,’ just as the show’s title promised—except for a brief sidetrack through the label’s perennial head-to-toe animal prints, sometimes as many as six separate pieces in one outfit. Molinari, it’s well known by now, doesn’t do anything by halves. Still, some of today’s looks—like the one consisting of a turquoise puffer vest, silver hoodie, and sequined pants spelling out ‘jolie,’ ‘wow,’ and other superlatives—certainly reconfirmed her enthusiasms. And if the show didn’t get more gonzo than that, it came close several times. The cocktail and evening dresses pavéd in iridescent studs at the finale? Minimal by comparison.”
finally, us vogue was surprisingly humourous, chortling that “(i)n a Milan that has lately been much concerned with a dark-side sensuality on one hand, and military-drab on the other, Anna Molinari came out all guns blazing with quite the opposite on both counts. Silvio Berlusconimay be gone, but where does that leave the fun-loving regazza who craves everything over-the-top, hot, and colorful? Well, she’s safe in Molinari’s Blumarine world, a place where no amount of austerity and seriousness can faze a girl who lives to sizzle. Even when she’s apparently off to the ski slopes. Which is where her romp around the trends began for fall—decked out in huge, super-bright Mongolian lamb chubbies and optic-white skintight all-in-ones, teetering on silver booties. This, let it be noted, is a girl who can make even thermals and moon boots sexy—worn with hot pants, naturally.”
“Après-ski,” they summed up, “she’ll work a total leopard-spot look, coat, muffler, tights, boots, fingerless gloves, and all. For day wear? Perhaps a short A-line suit in blinding silver leather. And when she’s going out for the evening? Disco-bound, she’ll be in spray-on, sequined, neon graffitied jeggings, with a blinding holographic jean jacket, and a pair of studded hoop earrings bigger than any hoop earrings ever known to womankind…As amusingly in-your-face as this Blumarine performance may be, it does happen to bop along in time with quite a lot of stuff we’ve been noticing on many runways. Oversize fun furs? Check. Puffers? Check. Black dresses, slit to the side? Check. Demi-nude evening dresses, scattered with paillettes in strategic places? Check. This may not be what intellectuals would consider a collection of serious note. But then again, it’s hard not to go with the flow, sit back, and enjoy the energy of a gloom-defying show like this. For the first time in Milan, people from front row to back were laughing as they left. And for that cheerful interlude, we must be grateful.”
(see the full fashion show video here)