Archive for November 13, 2008

Milan and Paris: The Beacons Guiding Fashion

The age-old argument as to which city is tops in fashion is not going to go away or be resolved anytime soon. While it’s here, why don’t we take a look at it? Many argue that Milan is all about the commercial aesthetics while Paris provides the creativity in its shows.

Here is Time’s take of one particular fashion season and an analysis on who won out:

When it comes to high fashion, only two cities matter. Twice a year the fashion houses in Paris and Milan compete for press attention, bragging rights and the dollars of store buyers around the world. Though the lines between the two capitals have blurred — Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford design for houses in both cities; French label Yves Saint Laurent is now run by the Italian Gucci Group, which is owned by the French company PPR — arguing about which city puts on the best shows remains a favorite parlor game of the fashion set. For the last 10 years, Milan has been winning, as Italian houses like Prada and Gucci came up with collections that rocked their Parisian rivals. But Paris came roaring back as the place to launch new talent from around the world — the star collections there are now produced by designers from Japan (Junya Watanabe), Belgium (Véronique Branquinho) and Britain (Alexander McQueen).

The two cities squared off again in the fall collections that ended in Paris last week. They battled for dominion over most of the emerging trends that will sustain the industry in the coming months: new reinterpretations of staid 1950s and futuristic 1960s looks; geometric designs in black and white; and the very timely military look. So who won the latest bout? Here’s one judge’s scorecard.

1950s In the biggest trend for fall, Milan reigned supreme. Miuccia Prada went back to that prim and proper decade with boatneck coats and dresses, pencil skirts and crocodile bags and gloves. But her coats were made of men’s fabrics and her gloves were oversized and fit for gardening — forcing everyone to rethink what ladylike means. Stella McCartney tried the same idea at her Paris show, but with all of the sugar and none of the spice.

Futurism At Lagerfeld’s Fendi show in Milan, he offered a futuristic look that might have been too much for Barbarella herself. Thigh-high boots and hot pants in slick, shiny fabrics were good for a giggle, but nothing a grown woman would actually wear. But in Paris, the touches of futurism in his collection for Chanel were more subtle. Tweed jackets came with geometric beading; black leather leggings gave a thigh-high boot effect without the boot. With a vision of luxury first, sexy space-cadet second, Karl in Paris beat Karl in Milan.

Black and white In Milan, Dolce & Gabbana used Op-Art patterns on skin-tight dresses. But the look worked better in Paris, where the checkerboard pattern on McQueen’s suits showed off the well-cut tailoring on which he’s made his name.

Military How many ways can designers approach officer chic? Plenty. At Gucci in Milan, the military trench coat was sexy — with a high collar, corseted waist and satin finish. In Paris, Branquinho’s belted wool coat with cape-like sleeves was more subtle, but equally strong — so call that one a draw. Final score: Paris 2, Milan 1, and one tie. Milan demands a rematch.

November 13, 2008 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment


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