A muggy Milan of frequent showers on Wednesday as the Italian runway season opened, but a pair of steamy collections by two southern gentleman – Alessandro Dell’Acqua and Fausto Puglisi to ignite the season.
If New York designers were busy dressing career girls, and London Fashion Week all about designers growing up, Milan opened with a duo of shows – No. 21 and Roberto Cavalli – focused on sexual freedom and liberty of dress.
No. 21: Patrician and carnal
The thing about gals in a No. 21 show is they always look like they have just made love with someone beautiful, or they about to do so.
Women wearing No. 21 normally look pretty hot. This season they sizzled. Thanks to designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s inspiration – his birthplace in Naples, extolling all its decadent, intensely spiritual and sweltering glory.
“I dedicate this collection to my hometown of Naples. Two key elements: the aristocratic and the carnal. I wanted to mix them both together. eroticism, carnality and drama – the true Naples,” he enthused, with an enormous shiver.
His mood-board said it all: wild weddings, dark funerals, decayed statues, kids in bathing costumes riding vespas, midnight dips in the Bay of Naples. Eat your heart our Elena Ferrante.
The result was a great collection – shining with sequins and disks, made into semi-sheer cocktails, slip dresses, lingerie looks, saucy bras and even cardigans. Alessandro paired these with singlets, slim knits, and micro short cotton dresses.
A half dozen looks featured semi-sheer cocktails where the knickers were clearly visible. In a moment, when the UK media is saturated with claims of abuse by the culture’s allegedly coolest rebel, Russell Brand, and the primary candidate for the Republican Party in the US has been convicted of sexual abuse, it was remarkable to see a collection so clearly dedicated to the right of woman to flaunt and celebrated their beauty, body and sexuality, while always keeping their independence.
Roberto Cavalli: Been living most his life in Cavalli paradise
Once Roberto Cavalli was the most electrifying print maker in fashion, now the house is again, after this tropical haute-hippie extravaganza collection designed by Fausto Puglisi.
His invite was a simple white, but his set was giant balls of tropical fauna, leaves and flowers – rubber plants, palms and aloe vera hanging from the ceiling of the former stock exchange of Milan.
“Cavalli Paradise!” shouted the ever-voluble Fausto in the excitement of his backstage, where models, make-up artists, hairdressers and stylists all embraced themselves in a tempest of shrieks.
His explosive pink fauna print dresses made all the more startling since they were cut in chiffon. The same prints used in fluttering caftans, enveloping kimonos and even denim jeans.
“Freedom, for women who don’t need to show anybody who they are. Women who just want to be happy. It’s about freedom, color and playing with your wardrobe. From pink to parrots to deserts,” he said.
Commercially attuned, the designer included an all-black section – not every look worked, like overly skimpy sequin minis and tops – but when they did, they smoked. From laser cutout and lace cocktails to a sensational see-through lace body hugging screen goddess femme fatale column worn by Italy’s greatest contemporary the statuesque and beautiful Vittoria Ceretti. This will be the hottest look of the whole season. Bar none.
“I love California, Mexico and St Tropez. And I love the Cavalli family,” said Fausto, a Sicilian who has made the ultimate Tuscan rock-n-roll brand his own.
A second celebration of the body beautiful and of summery sexuality – and a huge counterpoint to Anglo-Saxon culture, mores and media today.
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