Being minimalist in a country that values a more elaborate and embellished tradition toward clothing is a challenge. Doing minimalism so well that you develop a strong following and pack the same show space as traditional designers means you must be Gabriele Colangelo.
Colangelo starts his spring/summer season with basic white that doesn’t come off so basic. This is a starched, very bright white in large panels. Lines are so clean and sharp they look as though they might cut if one gets too close. Even a sheer lace overlay doesn’t overdo anything, it’s design staying very basic, its shape well constructed. Pieces are put together very intelligently with a limited number of stitches. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve seen such precise folding from a designer that doesn’t have Belgian roots. Even the folds of his origami designs are so crisp as to laugh at even the thought of a wrinkle besmirching this fabric. With broad shapes that run from the neck down, one can almost get a modernistic sense of Puritanism from the first several looks.
Of course, Gabriele doesn’t stay with whites and some of his fabrics actually encourage wrinkles; he’s not the least bit militant about keeping every line in ship shape. Yet, neither does he ever truly leave the architectural form. Where a fabric may want to hang a little more gently he allows it to do so, but even as he moves into sheers and mesh there is still that sense of well-planned, carefully constructed design. Ultimately, even the most heavily architectural pieces have a sense of comfort to them that makes them attractive.
What may be most attractive from this collection are the coats that are long in the front, giving it a more formal feel, and cropped in the back, making them more appropriate for the season. This dual approach isn’t especially new, but Colangelo does it so well as to make it exciting again. He also impresses with the way he blends colors. On tunic piece with a gold to chocolate gradient is so well done that it almost looks liquid.
Minimalism is not something we see a lot in Milan, but if Gabriele Colangelo’s popularity continues to grow I’m sure other designers will take notice. He brings a wonderful new perspective to this ancient city and offers it plenty of room to grow.
Photo credit: Regis Colin Berthelier