It was a warmish day in Milan -- and Fashion Week attendees took advantage, many going sans coat throughout the day and into evening.
Blumarine opened the third day of shows with a lot of shine and glitter: there was gold floral embroidery on black satin coats; jackets and dresses with kimono sleeves; big furry coats in purple and orange; little transparent lace dresses hatched with bands of velvet; and, among the strongest looks, floral dresses collared (and in some cases, hemmed) with contrasting fur (see above left).
On the other side of town later that morning, Emporio Armani showed, in a venue that went up a towering nine rows, a largely black collection with exaggerated bowler hats, and relaxed blazers and culottes paired with pointed flats and stilettos. Like Preen's collection in London, there was an Annie Hall vibe to some of the looks, though made darker and more mysterious.
The sense of ostentatiousness we saw at Blumarine earlier that morning continued at Sportmax in the afternoon, where the show notes declared war on years of "austerity and frugality" in favor of "overpowering" extravagance. With a global recession still in full swing, the message was too much, too soon, but there were some great moments: namely, a pair of python trench coats with thick belts, one brown with a black skirt (see above center), the other all-black. The skin was manipulated equally well in a red python skirt slashed with white over one hip.
On our way cross-town, we stepped into a show space converted into a dark, enchanting garden, where Sergio Rossi's presented his glittering fall 2014 shoe and accessories collection. We wish we could have taken these fish-scale heels, or perhaps these outrageous shaggy boots, home with us.
Later, we attended the International Woolmark Prize awards, which were held in Milan this year. The prestigious competition -- which was won by Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld in its inaugural year, 1954 -- challenges designers with labels less than six years old to use wool in innovative ways. In the end, Rahul Mishra of India beat out ffiXXed (from Asia), Christopher Esber (Australia), Sibling London (Europe) and Joseph Altuzarra (U.S.) with a collection that used wool so fine that it looked like embroidered cotton or linen. Mishra, adorably, cried on stage when Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani, alongside fellow judges Alexa Chung and Franca Gianni, announced he was the winner.
Expectations were high that night at Versace, where again we were led into a night garden -- this one, seemingly, outside a palace. Two male models, dressed as guards, opened the gates that brought the first set of models onto the runway. As usual, Versace's collection was short, sexy and colorful, but this time especially military-inspired: There were dresses with double rows of gold buttons and jackets with fringed epaulets, along with over-the-knee boots. Strongest perhaps were the coats, wool with sleeves of tooled leather or calf hair. But it was Lindsey Wixson, sashaying down the runway in a high-slitted teal gown, hips thrust forward, shoulders back, that stole the show (see above, right). Karlie Kloss couldn't have done better.