Milan Fashion Week opened this morning with a very tenuous tone. Italian banks are in the news again, giving businesses here an even greater sense of uncertainty than they already had. The downtown in sales of luxury goods has hit Italian fashion houses harder than those in Paris or London. A recent index of the top ten luxury fashion brands listed only one Italian label, Gucci. Budgets are shrinking, stores are closing, and there is a deep thread of concern amidst all the celebration.
Anna Molinari’s Blugirl label might be a good indicator not only of trends we’re likely to see this week, but how Italian fashion houses are addressing their economic concerns. As one looks around the terrace at Società Umanitaria, there were more Asian buyers, specifically Japanese buyers, in attendance than there were European or American buyers. One might also notice, as we are constantly aware of diversity on the runway, that no black models walked this morning, but there were several Asian models in the cast. The dependence upon Asian sales isn’t new, but that influence is stronger here than ever before.
However, none of that seemed to affect the clothes themselves. After all, what draws tourists to Milan is Italian fashion and the strong European looks they produce. This season, Ms. Molinari goes with a strong Spanish influence, from broad rimmed hats to plenty of lace and prints with vibrant colors. Originally crafted and still marketed as a juniors line, this is a bolder look than we’ve seen for this label. Where previously we’ve seen soft, pretty dresses with a high degree of innocence to them, this season we’re seeing stronger lines and more trendy elements that would appeal to young women wanting to mimic more grown up styles.
While Ms. Molinari starts with white lace over dark leggings, she moves quickly to embrace some of the more popular trends we’ve seen this season. There are plenty of off-the-shoulder looks, a plethora of ruffles, and a heavy use of stripes. In Molinari’s hands, though, these elements are very carefully crafted into her silhouettes. Looks are running full and flowing this season, which is also a trend we saw in London, and there is the same ease of comfort and wearability that we’ve seen elsewhere.
Interestingly enough, there is only one pair of shorts in this collection and they are very short and very tightly fitted. Surprisingly, there’s no lace at the hem as we’ve seen elsewhere. There are brightly colored leggings to be found and we also see that Ms. Molinari is still fond of tassels both as earrings and on very long necklaces that swing below the waist. Shoes are a variety of sandals with ribbon ties, again, very comfortable and easy to wear.
There is a lot of pressure on Milan this season to justify its continued place as one of the world’s major fashion capitals. Blugirl steps up to the plate and gets a solid hit to start the week. It is up to everyone who follows to keep up the momentum.