MFW: SIMONETTA RAVIZZA F/W 2014

One of the challenges in talking about Italian fashion to an American audience is that there are a large number of labels quite famous in Italy and across Europe that are practically unknown in the US. Unfortunately, Americans tend to lack respect for things about which their ignorant and, as a result, miss a great deal of fashion. Unless one lives in or frequently visits Vail, Beaver Creek, or Aspen, chances are you’ve never come across Simonetta Ravizza, for those are the only outlets in the US through which her clothes are sold. Why only sell in ski communities? Ravizza is, at its core, a furrier. Given that animal rights activists regularly target stores in LA and New York, those hitting the Colorado slopes provide a much more fur friendly environment in which to sell.

We also need to be aware that Simonetta is a third-generation designer. Her father, Giuliano, is credited for having made fur “affordably accessible.” He was quite famously kidnapped in 1980 and released only after the family payed an extreme ransom. Simonetta is the oldest of Giuliano’s three children and has been running the family business since her father’s death in 1992.

With all that background in place, Simonetta’s fall/winter collection is darker than usual. Yes, there’s lots of fur coats, which are typically dark anyway, but in previous seasons we’ve see Simonetta integrate bright splashes of color in her day and formal wear to keep things lively and attractive. Last year, it was bright red that kept everyone awake, and even when she wasn’t using eye-popping color Ms. Ravizza would maintain contrast with tans and other earth tone shades. This season, however, there is very little color anywhere. She does carry over the leopard print fabrics she started with her spring/summer collection, and she frequently uses those prints full length in both dresses and pants ensembles. Beyond the prints, though, the only other occasion of color with with a touch of plum in a few pieces. While they are nicely done, they are very subtle as though preferring to stand in the shadow.

What we see instead is perhaps more leather than ever and with that leather Simonetta seems to be taking a minimalist turn. Again, in contrast to previous seasons, there are not a lot of folds, cuts are along clean lines, and styling is excessively simple. Silhouettes are fuller than any we’ve ever seen from her, which likely makes the garments more comfortable and wearable, but is definitely a change, especially from the carefully tailored pants we’ve seen in previous collections. Thankfully, she’s also dropped some of the more questionable items from last year, such as the long-haired gloves that looked too much like one was wearing a Yeti.

Standing out in this collection are the few select hats. Simonetta usually does two or three per season and, in keeping with the simpleness of this collection, her hats this season are unadorned and simple, which is actually a very good thing for a hat. The broad-brimmed fur hat is a unique look, but the Russian-styled muff hat is likely to be ubiquitous across Europe next winter.

Fall/Winter 2014 has the appearance of being a transitional collection for Simonetta Ravizza. I will be anxious to see if she continues down this minimalist path and, if so, where it will take her come spring.

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