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Milan Fashion Week: Bottega Veneta, Armani, Roberto Cavalli, Jil Sander – A lack of trends … but there will always be luxury

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The day began well with Bottega Veneta, where denim and gingham were elevated far from their prairie roots. Easy, breezy dresses were patchworked, pleated and adorned with strips of sequins, paillettes and caviar-like beads. We’re definitely not in Kansas any more. There was plenty in this collection for modern-day ladies who lounge; the slouchiness of knee-length cardigans, jersey and cotton leggings and knit shorts, was emphasised by a washed-out palette of sky blue, sand and the palest of pinks. That softness was repeated in languid silk and supple suede. Backstage, creative director Tomas Maier said his choice of fabric was influenced by modern life, chiefly his own: “I wear a lot of denim myself.” He was inspired by dancers: “Not so much the performance” but rather “a dancer on her way to rehearsal”.

There was fluidity at Giorgio Armani too, in a collection inspired by nature – specifically by sand. This came through in the tawny colours and billowing, gauzy fabrics occasionally printed with the waves of a desert dune. Of course, the sandy beaches that Armani relaxes on are the finest in the world, and that level of finesse came through in the airiness of his designs. Simple tailoring – tapered trousers worn with little jackets and finished with flat-soled lace-ups – seemed relevant, and right.

Uniform chic at Jil Sander Uniform chic at Jil Sander (AFP/Getty)

Defining modernity can be difficult – it’s more than just the height of a hem or the cut of a jacket; so often it’s part of a bigger picture, a mood. But where Armani was once a radical at doing so – redefining the way women dressed in the Eighties – today he seems happy to pursue something perhaps better categorised as timeless.

In sticking stubbornly to their signatures, some designers seem immune to trends. That could be said of Roberto Cavalli who has identified his customer – wealthy, young, confident, fun-loving – and seems happy to provide her with more of what he knows she likes. So there were pleated, multi-print dresses with sheer panels placed to afford a glimpse of flesh. Leopardskin print was present too, in sequin form, as were tuxedo pieces similarly sprinkled with sparkles and the briefest of skirts. 

As a label Jil Sander has always been about modernity … although its original interpretation would now seem old hat. Yesterday, for his first collection as creative director of the house, Rodolfo Paglialunga mused on the age old masculine/feminine dichotomy that led to androgyny.

Shorts were wide-legged, to the knee and cut from heavyweight fabrics such as gabardine and leather. There was a school-uniform vibe, not only in the layering of knit jumpers and tank tops over shirts, but in the colour combinations too – navy blue, ox blood and bottle green.

There were interesting elements at play, with skin-tight leather socks strapped into sandals, silken fabrics that slithered through cut-out details and random, abbreviated stripes that resembled a censored letter. The label may no longer be at the cutting edge, but there was plenty to ensure that it won’t get left behind on the sale rail.

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