Two Italian houses reach significant milestones with colour running deep in their fashion bloodstreams.
Missoni: Signature knits sparkle
The overhead awnings were all the colours of the Missoni rainbow – meaning pink, mauve, apple green, bold orange – and so many more.
And that was before a single striped sweater, zigzag coat, airy chiffon maxi dress or body conscious stretch hose reached the runway. Angela Missoni was celebrating 20 years as creative director and it was an upbeat family affair.
“I’m feeling emotional now because I see the reaction of the rest of the fashion world to my 20 years,” said Angela, whose daughter Margherita was wearing a shirt patterned with a daisy and a big two-oh emblazoned like a basketball player’s jersey number.
Missoni goes back to 1953 when the late Octavio, ‘Tai’, Missoni and his wife Rosita started a knitwear business that has stayed all in the family. They came out in force under the colourful canopy created by American artist Rachel Hayes.
“I do feel emotional,” admitted Rosita. “But I have never interfered – I always say, I let Angela do her job, because I know how hard it is to take decisions and it’s something that you have to do when you are responsible.”
Angela’s decision was to focus on the ease of knits, so central to the Missoni brand. Last season she had taken a feminist stance, after Hillary Clinton lost the American election. This show for Spring 2018 was lighter in both senses: there was no political statement and the textures went from finely gauged to a wispy transparency.
When lightness is all, layering is essential and the designer worked that well on anything from big, floppy sunhats to mid-calf skirts that showed a shadow of the naked body line. Sometimes the garment under a super-light cardigan was a body suit; or it might be stretch trousers with a diaphanous effect.
An after-dark decoration using Lurex as glimmering scales knitted in stretch materials gave a sparkle effect to Missoni classics.
Was it a star performance? Angela is too down to earth to make a fantasy out of the heritage, but she was emotional backstage when she talked about her 20 years at the design helm.
“I have had so many amazing points in my life – I feel such a fortunate person,” she said. “In design, there is something that happens every four or five years and it is very important that I start there and change direction. But know I have to be careful and I questioned myself often over all those years.”
Etro’s Sibling Success
Veronica Etro and her brother Kean stood together in front of a mood board rich in color and imagery, reflecting on the family company’s 50th anniversary since it emerged from fabric – with a focus on paisley – to fashion.
Kean, who has brought the richness of Etro’s heritage to menswear, talked before the show about this first time the siblings had shown together and worked on a single presentation as one entity.
“It was so fun because we were mixing everything – I was taking things from Veronica and finally I could place the jewelry I love on the men,” joked Kean. “Really it’s about togetherness, unity and strength.”
Veronica was more specific about thinking back to 1968 and the luxe-hippie movement in fashion.
“Counterculture, revolution, psychedelia – the collection is really meant to be a crescendo,” she said. “We started with white, which is unusual for us. But I was completely into those monotone prints. I wanted to give this sense of lightness, which is why we are showing in the daylight with the sun is coming in.”
“Then, like a painter on a blank canvas, the reflection starts to blossom,” Veronica continued. “It goes from the bright colors to the psychedelic colours. It’s also a way of showing the two souls of the Etro brand. On one hand, it’s very traditional, decorative – even regal sometimes; and on the other hand, it’s quite psychedelic or really rock-pop.”
The white opening had a real freshness to it, with fabrics and their surface treatments changing from a knitted shirt tucked into cotton riding trousers to silvered embroidery on a man’s blazer. This section had all the Etro tropes, especially its embrace of India in its Maharaja years. That included jodhpur trousers on the masculine side and Indian motifs on an easy shirt, worn with a tailored Prince of Wales check coat, displayed in a cool collusion of heritage, and modernity.
But with nearly 100 outfits, this precise and even visionary opening started to become more complex, as high-waist, full-sleeved girlish dresses seemed like a kaleidoscope of colors. As so often with Veronica’s offering, a cull of the repetitive ideas, however colourful and charming, would have been welcome. By contrast, Kean reduced the male interpretation of the years of the Raj down to tailoring with pattern and the Etro sensibility to colour.
Although the show was long, it expressed the joyful energy of the Etro approach and also the importance to Italian brands of working together as a family.