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When Lauren Hutton walked arm-in-arm down the runway with Gigi Hadid for the finale of the Bottega Veneta show Saturday morning, it was a moment that crystallized what luxury brands must do right now, which is to bring the past to meet the future, in order to hook the next generation on expensive fashion.
At Milan Fashion Week, which wrapped up Sunday, designers tried to woo millennials with the modeling sisters Hadid, and their combined 30 million Instagram followers. They tried to woo them with streetwear references, sportswear references and sneakers (MGSM, No. 21, Versace), with Insta-ready presentations (Tod’s, Fausto Puglisi) and with vlogger front rows (Dolce & Gabbana). Will it work? Only time will tell if experiences and shares translate into sales.
There was something about Bottega’s play that felt nice, maybe because it didn’t feel so much like a play.
It’s a big year for BV, the 50th anniversary of the anti-flash luxury brand with the slogan “When your own initials are enough,” the 15th with creative director Tomas Maier at the helm, and the first time he’s shown women’s and men’s wear together.
LADYLIKE: Looks from Bottega Veneta’s spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)
For the show, he chose the fine arts academy Accademia di Brera, with its soaring archways reminiscent of the clean Spanish Colonial architecture of the new BV Rodeo Drive store. And it seems the students may have inspired him as well, from the saddle shoes to the matinee idol look of many of the male models.
You could see the passion in the soft suiting, glossy leather shirt dresses and coats, and lace knits that flattered every curve on Karen Elson, Adriana Lima and others in the diverse cast, which could have come straight off a Hollywood movie set (with Hutton playing the femme fatale in a trench coat, natch). The men looked like 1950s movie stars in colorful polo sweaters, pleated pants and fly boy leather jackets. Adding to the cinematic vibe, Maier recreated 15 bags from the house archives, including the intrecciato clutch carried by Lauren Hutton in the 1980 film, American Gigolo.
AMERICAN GIGOLO: Looks from Bottega Veneta’s spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)
The whole collection felt like it was designed from the heart. For his runway bow, Maier brought his entire design team onto the runway with him, the teacher and his students. Some even had tears in their eyes.
Dolce & Gabbana made a bid for the young ones in a more overt way. “Here come the millennials,” the brand announced on its Instagram feed the day before the show, teasing a front row full of vloggers (Cameron Dallas, Luka Sabbat) and celeb kids (Sistine Stallone, Brandon Thomas Lee, Rafferty Law, Sofia Richie), and guaranteeing a hormone-fueled frenzy on the sidewalk outside. (IPhones hoisted in the air, teenage chants of “Cameron, Cameron, Cameron,” chasing cars down the street, it was a mega scene.)
A photo posted by Dolce & Gabbana (@dolcegabbana) on
The designers’ “Tropico Italiano” themed show was a crazy performance that started and ended with street dancers on the runway, and continued later in the evening with a dinner that shut down the famous Montenapoleone shopping street.
In the middle, on the runway, the trend for spring 2017 was decoration, the more piled on the merrier, including sequins, studs, flowers and pearls.
This was a collection designed to dazzle and share, with light up LED heels and headpieces, pizza-shaped bags, ice cream-printed dresses, ironic logo tees emblazoned with the phrase, “DG La Vera Copia” (“the true DG copy”) and even a finale of souvenir T-shirts and flip flops and more, spelling out “Lo Sera,” or “I was there.” “Clients no longer buy just a dress; they are buying an experience, a memory, a feeling,” the designers stated in the show notes.
For all that, the millennial front row didn’t look so impressed. They didn’t have their iPhones in the air documenting the moment; then again, they are the stars of their own show.
MILLENNIALS RULE: Looks from Dolce & Gabbana’s spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Getty Images)
Elsewhere on the runway, the last two days of Milan fashion week included some old favorites. Missoni showed its famous knits in elongated silhouettes, with sarong style wraps over pants a fresh-looking idea. Marni offered a curiously print-free vision of folded, draped and drawcord cinched layers. And Jil Sander designer Rodolfo Paglialunga put his own spin on Issey Miyake-like pleats and “Working Girl” power shoulders.
— @Booth (@Booth) September 25, 2016
— @Booth (@Booth) September 24, 2016
But what really left a lasting impression were Milan’s fast-percolating new talents and labels, including Marco di Vincenzo, who may be Italy’s answer to Proenza Schouler. LVMH has invested in Vincenzo’s label, a modern mix of bold shapes and craftsy textures. There was plenty for actresses to love in the pleating, ruching, fringe and flounces, and a great looking copper sequin dress that someone should grab for a red carpet soon.
RED-CARPET READY: Looks from Marco di Vincenzo’s spring 2017 presentation. (Photos: Courtesy of Marco di Vincenzo. (Photos: Getty Images)
Albert Arbesser is another name to know. (He’s also creative director of Iceberg.) Taking inspiration from uniforms, he presented a collection of pieces that actually stood out on their own, including a gingham pleated skirt with an iridescent shine, an apron dress with an arrow graphic and bold color blocked polo sweaters.
Then there’s Philipp Plein, Milan’s new king of bling, and quite possibly the fashion world’s new Christian Audigier. Coming off his Fergie-fueled runway show earlier in the week, which Paris Hilton walked, Plein inaugurated his new Milan headquarters by throwing himself a party Sunday night and flying in a Michelin star chef from Paris to feed his guests.
The building has 7 floors dedicated to Plein’s bedazzled luxe athleisure for men, women and kids (think skull printed leather shorts; crystal studded high top sneakers and hoodies with jeweled zipper pulls). Plein has stores all around the world, including one on Rodeo Drive, and plans to open 30 more in America in the next 5 years. Starting next season, he will begin showing his collection in New York.
He finally arrived fashionably late to his own party, blowing back into town minutes before, after living it up with his girlfriend in Monte Carlo all weekend, and posting videos of her on his Instagram in a brand new Rolls Royce.
What a character! Somebody get this guy a reality show stat. Or maybe more appropriately, a vlog.
Now it’s on to Paris.
ALICE IN GHETTOLAND: Looks from Philipp Plein’s spring 2017 show. (Photos: Getty Images)
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