MILAN — To show or not to show: Each Milan fashion house had to make a difficult decision how to reach the fashion public this season under the safety constraints imposed by the coronavirus.
Italy’s fashion capital — one of the top four runway cities in the world — has worked hard to maintain a near-real fashion week, with 23 live shows, coming after New York, which was mostly virtual, and London, where designers mostly met with small groups of editors. Paris will be the next city to test the waters with live shows.
“We need to start from the position that this cannot be compared with the past. We are starting from now, doing the best with the situation that exists today,” the president of Italy’s fashion council, Carlo Capasa, said Saturday. `’It is important to give a voice to the brands. Above all, to do it in safety.”
ARMANI EXPLORES PAST AND PRESENT
Giorgio Armani was the first Milan designer to show his collection behind closed doors, taking the command decision last February after Italy’s first local transmitted case of coronavirus was detected while Milan Fashion Week was under way. The 86-year-old designer was not about to take chances and open the doors to guests with the pandemic still active seven months later.
“I don’t know when we will recover the formula” of live runway shows, Armani told journalists during a presentation. While he said there is no substituting the energy of a runway show, he himself doesn’t mind the respite. `’Honestly, if I were 30 years young, I would miss it. Being that many years older, I am fine the way it is,” he said.
In its place, he created a virtual event featuring a 20-minute film that served as a retrospective of his 45-year career that was broadcast not only on the internet but on private Italian television as an introduction to the 13-minute runway show. The combined women’s and men’s collection featured 60 looks for her and 39 for him.
Armani said he worried that the film was `’a little exhibitionist. … But ordinary people hardly ever get to see what goes on behind this sort of work. So I took advantage of the chance to let them see.”
The film put the spotlight on Armani’s philosophy that it is the person, not the clothes, that should be remembered, and celebrated the Armani innovation of softer jackets described as a `’second skin.” The Armani woman “is utterly herself without apology,” Cate Blanchett told an interviewer.
The new collection, inspired by Armani’s own heritage, featured anything but lockdown looks. The women’s clothes were rich and detailed: silken trousers, patchwork jackets, sequin and beaded evening dresses, finished with big jewelry and pretty clutches all for a night out. Men wore slate-gray business suits with dark ties, or more casual three-piece suits — with the vest serving as the top.