Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Once upon a time, Milan was the fashion capital of the world. Designers like Elsa Schiaparelli, Guccio Gucci, Ottavio Missoni, and Emilio Pucci ruled the world. But then Gianni Versace died and now, with Valentino Garavani’s retirement, it’s up to Miuccia Prada to wave the flag of innovative Italian design. It seems everyone else has gone north to Paris, or, like Gucci without Tom Ford, become increasingly irrelevant to modern fashion. And Milan’s current crop of Fall 2008 RTW shows are nothing if not irrelevant. A few collections have even bordered on unwearable.

Take, for example, the Etro ensemble to the right. The jacket would flatter exactly…no one. And does that riding hat look familiar? It should, if you remember Balenciaga’s fall 2006 RTW collection. That’s right, dear readers, Etro is already rehashing a look from just two seasons back. Yes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s too soon! Perhaps Iceberg would fare better? After all, they haven’t been at this whole RTW thing as long and therefore might not show the jadedness of so many Italian designers. But, alas, no. If the outfit at the left is any indication (and I believe it is), the label is better off sticking to its jeans and casual wear. Leave the big-kid clothes to the big-name designers.

Who would honestly be tempted to wear that, um, necklace, or those Police sunglasses? Now maybe the coat/dress underneath is okay, but we can’t really tell, can we? I hear what you’re saying: “But how is this so different from that orange Basso and Brooke coat, DCGF?” And to that I say, it’s all about proportion. Whereas the orange coat had a clear flow in it’s shape and the fine tailoring that screams I’m Expensive, this red “hoodie” with it’s giant collar and poufy sleeves looks more akin to something one might pick up at Hot Topic. -sigh-

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Marni, whose designer Consuelo Castiglioni has an ability to design clothes that look both devilishly stylish and incredibly comfortable. Her spring 2006 collection, in particular, was awash with beautiful blues and greens that captured the spirit of the Mediterranean. And the accessories! They were brilliant. So what the heck is this outfit, at right? A faux-fur carpet over grandma pants? I mean, seriously. Cut it out, Consuelo! This is not something that any woman is going to aspire to wear, either as an outfit, or as individual pieces. I’m just…grrr…disgusted. And the Princess Leia hairpiece doesn’t help, either.

With that in mind, I say, Help me Rosella Jardini, you’re my only hope! But it shouldn’t surprise you that Moschino landed with a big giant thud, too. When I think of Moschino, I think of a whimsical approach to fashion that combines classic tailoring and luxurious fabrics with a tongue-in-cheek nod to the absurdity of all this seriousness surrounding the industry. Just check out their website if you doubt me.

And I like that. I like it a lot. But the military-meets-mannequin looks that marched down the runway were heavy on hardware and light on laughter. And bell-bottoms, apparently. I just can’t quite figure out what’s going on at left, and I certainly wouldn’t peg it for a Moschino outfit if I couldn’t see the logo in the background.

Whither Milan fashion? It’s hard to tell looking at these collections. And notice I didn’t touch Prada. I’m not emotionally prepared to do so yet. Thoughts?