From an English designer's poetic take on British style to an Italian duo's riff on Queen Elizabeth and their countrywoman's Asian touches, the Milan collections were a truly international affair.
Burberry Prorsum: Now that's more like it. After a couple of seasons fumbling for direction in tough-chic/hard-glam territory, Christopher Bailey sent out a Burberry Prorsum collection that was fresh, cohesive and lovely, not to mention a major reminder of what put him on the map in the first place.
Backstage postshow, Bailey said the paintings of L.S. Lowry and "poetic romance" were his guiding factors. Maybe so, but another was quite obviously Burberry's rock-solid signature outerwear. Bailey wisely homed in on the house trenches, cocoons and military coats that at once anchored the collection in Burberry traditions and gave him a controlled outlet for his intended motif: pretty, poetic sobriety, perhaps with a dose of cleaned-up grunge thanks to some knit caps. He gave classic jackets a gently beautiful twist in coppery tweeds, feathery chenilles and silk wool dégrades, all of them done in a gorgeous palette of muted earth and jewel tones referred to backstage as "drab fab." Underneath the topcoats were more updates of the house's roots via tiered shift dresses and baby-doll tunics worn over ultralong silk bellbottoms. The latter made for a striking long silhouette and nodded at Bailey's beloved Brit "It" girl look but moved her into a more modern, subdued moment — one in which the clothes play quietly and accessories, like Bailey's giant bejeweled necklaces, can steal the scene.
D&G: Considering Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's flashy, frisky oeuvre, "The Queen" — Stephen Frears' 2006 cinematic depiction of England's Queen Elizabeth II — made an unlikely inspiration for their fall D&G lineup. And what an unlikely collection it was. The boys didn't just wink at Her Majesty in all her dowdy countryside glory; they looked at her with full-on Cheshire-cat grins, transforming their girl in a most unexpected way: modestly. Still, that's not to say it was stuffy — anything but, in fact. The good-humored ode began with plaid and lots of it. Celtic fare such as blouses and kilts, seen through a Seventies lens, was made even more discreet by lowering the hemlines to midcalf, keeping everything above the waist covered up and topping the look off with a kerchief fit for a blue-blooded granny — plenty amusing, if the least realistic of the terrific accessories on offer. From there, the plaid-on-plaid action continued with blazers, tunics, bell-bottoms and delightful ruffled dresses that morphed into billowing, floor-length chiffon versions, paired with velvet bedroom slippers, to close the show. So, while the inspiration might have been mature, Dolce and Gabbana's interpretation was like a sweet bird of youth.