Half-way through this month of fashion weeks, we land in Milan wondering if we’ll see any sunshine while fashion is making its run here. A light mist and fairly dense fog swirled around the legs of editors and buyers rushing from the nearest cafe to the early shows. Interestingly enough, the weather here this year isn’t much different from the American Midwest. Temperatures are in the mid-50s with a mix of clouds in the morning and the promise of some sun this afternoon. This morning, though, feels cold and damp.
Cristiano Burani wasn’t the first show on today’s schedule, but it is the first to start getting a fair amount of attention. Burani, like a number of other Italian designers, has a strong Asian and Middle Eastern customer base and the guest list for those show is almost like a United Nations roll call with editors and buyers from all over the world in attendance. While Burani’s US stocklist is not long, his popularity is more widespread as one looks East. That influence is noticeable in many of the smaller details of his work.
I should also go ahead and mention, as seems necessary every season, that leather and fur both have centuries-old traditions in clothing here. While animal rights groups do still picket some of the larger shows in Milan, their effect is minimal. The amount of leather and fur used in Italian design are a couple of major aspects that make Italian labels so popular among luxury buyers in Eastern countries. Because of the dominance of Eastern buyers in Italian fashion, US threats of boycott because of the use of animal products are largely ignored.
All that being said, Burani goes through quite a wide variety of fabrics for his Autumn/Winter collection. Some make more sense than others, given the season. He has a number of different elements that he plays with and they work most the time on most the ensembles, but not universally. Take silk, for example. There are some of his silk pieces that are nothing short of stunning, such as this carmel-colored blouse:
What makes less sense, however, is this pajama-looking ensemble with the snap-away pants that might remind one of the warm-up suits worn by basketball players. It’s worth noting that we see several pair of pants in this style throughout this collection and at no time are they especially appealing.
Large silver buttons and snaps are a significant point of cohesion throughout this collection, as if you couldn’t tell from the pictures above. It’s rare that we don’t see at least one in almost every ensemble. This is a simple point of detail but is important when one looks at the collection as a whole. Burani is careful to not overuse the element, but one has to admit they really pop on this double-breasted leather coat.
Looking at that same photo, one might notice a couple of other elements that run through the collection: opera gloves and platform boots. I’m not a particular fan of either, but they are looking as popular again this season as they were a year ago. Leather gloves tend to be sweaty, though, and I’m continually questioning why runway models, who on average are about 5′ 10″ tall already, need to be any taller. For the vertically challenged people among us perhaps the boots are a godsend, but on the runway they create a strange aesthetic by stretching the visual impact of the legs.
Burani also seems to be quite enamored with zippers this season. He puts them on everything except sweaters and sweatshirts and is most taken with putting them at the neck. Even then, he occasionally puts one under a garment. He seems to like the effect of a colored zipper on clear plastic. Again, I can’t imagine this not causing skin issues. The visual is admittedly interesting, though.
As a point of contrast, Burani delivers a wonderful array of slightly deconstructed sweaters with loose strings hanging all over the place. The variations are interesting and well worth consideration. I mean, how often does one come across a cable knit with fringe like this?
The picture doesn’t fully show the length of the fringe coming off both sleeves. We also found the cable knit pants an interesting touch. We’re thinking that it could make for a very snuggly ensemble as long as one doesn’t live with cats who like to play with dangling pieces of yarn.
While it’s far too early to call anything a trend, what we’ve noticed in the early Milan shows is that everyone seems to have at least one statement piece, with the statement being rather obvious. One earlier show suggested that one should “go cannibal,” in an apparent response to vegans. Burani’s statement seems slightly less political:
Throughout the collection, Burani plays loose and long with the silhouettes. While there are a handful of short skirts in the mix, most pieces stick with the trend of being at least slightly oversized, especially with sweaters and sweatshirts.
While this is a strong collection, it’s not overly creative. The silhouettes are those we’ve seen before. The zippers at the neck are interesting, but at times come off as more of a gimmick. As such, this is a decent enough opening for Milan Fashion Week, but we’ll hope the fog clears, both literally and metaphorically, and that brighter things are coming later in the day.