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Brief Published: 28 Feb 2012

MFW A/W 12-13: Opulence vs. Luxe Utility


Milan Fashion Week has so far presented a tale of two directions, with designers split between bohemian opulence and modern utilitarianism.

Always riffing on the theme of Italian heritage, Dolce & Gabbana showed a lavish collection that drew inspiration from Domencio Dolce’s Catholic upbringing in Sicily, with heavy gold embellishment and jewellery and an extensive use of golden brocade. Lace, a fabric favoured by the Italian design duo, was shown sheer and unlined, maintaining the label’s sex appeal amid the saintly inspirations. Similarly, Roberto Cavalli – never one for restraint – showed a decadent line, complete with metallic and iridescent fabrics. The palette included opulent hues, with chartreuse, plum, turquoise and indigo forming a rich harmony. Brocade was also key at Cavalli: richly embroidered T-shirts and dresses were teamed with trousers and skirts covered in paillettes for a top-to-toe maximalist aesthetic. Cavalli’s signature animal print, embossed leather pieces and an abundance of ruffles and volume finished off a collection that was unashamedly interested in excess.

At the opposite end of the scale, Stylus’ Protest concept found numerous confirmations during the Milan shows, with MaxMara, Gianfranco Ferré and Salvatore Ferragamo demonstrating a utilitarian direction. In typical Italian style, the pared-back aesthetic took on a luxe edge, with gold hardware, glossy leather and immaculate tailoring making for a sexy take on the grungy look. Key pieces such as the boiler suit and floor-length wool coats were integral to the MaxMara A/W 12-13 collection, with patent, wet-look fabrics and pencil skirts keeping the look sleek. Ferragamo fused classic military styling with double-breasted navy coats, but also looked to a more bohemian direction with peasant dresses, gold brocade and velvet pendant chokers that channelled both of Milan's strongest aesthetics. Similarly, Italian label Gianfranco Ferré combined the two looks with a predominantly restrained, Soviet-inspired show, finished off with disco-inspired lurex mini dresses.

Milan Fashion Week concludes today as Paris Fashion Week begins.

Milan Fashion Week