Designers have made plays big and small for the loyalty of younger admirers at Milan Fashion Week.
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They have reached out with Instagram-savvy supermodels like Gigi Hadid, styles that incorporate more elements of street-wear and ever-evolving technology, as highlighted with Dolce & Gabbana's clever use of drones during their womenswear show.
Some highlights from the fifth day of Milan Fashion Week womenswear previews for next fall and winter Sunday:
TOMMY AND GIGI END THEIR ROAD SHOW
Tommy Hilfiger took his international road show to Milan, previewing his latest see-now, buy-now collection headlined by Gigi Hadid.
The U.S. brand invited 1,000 loyal Milan customers to the city's fairgrounds for the show, with the possibility to buy the exclusive wears even before they walked down the runway. Francesca Ottavia Battaglia, a long time consumer of Hilfiger's apparel, came with her sister and bought a 129 euro ($158) sweatshirt "also to have a memento from the show."
She says she buys a whole range of apparel from the brand — jeans, shoes and even suits for her job as a financial advisor. "Tommy manages to give that extravagance, that detail, even in classic styles, that makes it clear it is not the usual suit," she said.
The TommyNow Drive collection designed with Hadid was inspired by racing and with many 1990s influences featured bright primary colors that played well off of each other on the runway.
Hadid — who also has a Hilfiger-clad Barbie doll in her image — opened the show with a pair of blue and black leather racing leggings (499 euros) and a Hilfiger bandeau top, and closed in a long diaphanous layered maxidress with racing logo prints (530 euros).
It was the fourth collection that Hadid designed with the Hilfiger team, with the first three showing in Los Angeles, New York and London.
"It is a bit emotional but it is so exciting," Hadid said backstage. She said she learned with each season how to better execute her ideas, adding, "I feel like this collection is one that I really feel that I learned the most with."
Hadid closed the show taking one last lap with Hilfiger — who said that while their TommyXGigi collaboration was ending that they would "always be close. We'll always be family and friends." And he held out the possibility of another collaboration in the future.
DOLCE & GABBANA DRONE DEVOTION
The fashion crowd was mystified and then miffed when the Dolce & Gabbana show was delayed by repeated announcements that all Wi-Fi connections needed to be turned off and then the announcer calling out the scofflaws. Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour got out of her seat to investigate. There were catcalls.
Then, 45 minutes after the scheduled start time, relief at the sound of opening music turned quickly to awe as the doors of the mocked-up church facade opened and out flew a series of drones. Each carried one of the fashion house's quilted leather handbags of the season, named Devotion and featuring a heart-shaped closure.
While the designing duo of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana again showed their mastery of marketing, the collection that followed made clear they would have sent the bags down the runway with flying cherubs, if only they could figure out how.
Dolce & Gabbana have often played with church iconography. Now, they have come out and openly said what many had long suspected by opening their show with a look emblazoned "Fashion Sinner."
The audacious collection kept smartphones snapping during a parade that included pink cotton candy wigs, headbands topped with purses, hoods with zebra manes, angel wings on an ornate jacket and cherubs perched on eyewear.
The looks were fun and varied, from sequin encrusted jerseys and athletic-striped trousers proclaiming "Fashion Devotion," to a coordinated zebra-striped jacket, leggings and shoes, to pretty chiffon dresses in florals and lingerie-inspired dresses.
There were angelic looks, too: sequined dresses with cherubs and mini-skirts with detailing that might as well have been taken from church ceilings, worn with bejeweled cross necklaces.
"Love is Love," and "Fashion is Beauty" were among the other messages displayed on looks with generous helpings of sequins and crystals.
Dolce & Gabbana had a (not-so) secret show on Saturday night at their downtown party spot, featuring models and millennials in every manner of crystal-covered evening dress and playsuit. Models for the "Secrets & Diamonds" show included real life royalty, Lady Kitty Spencer, a cousin of Princes William and Harry.
EMPORIO ARMANI MIXES DAY AND NIGHT
Giorgio Armani said he was inspired by what he sees on the streets to mix night and day looks in his ultra-feminine Emporio Armani collection for next fall and winter.
"Today everything gets mixed in absolute freedom," the stylist said after the show. "Young people today dress in contradictions. They go to clubs in their brother's sweatshirts and to the office in chiffon."
Armani captured that spirit with mini-skirts worn with cowboy boots, jackets with curved hemlines worn over a jumpsuit, fuzzy long coats over short-shorts and knitted cardigan jackets with athletic striped trousers. The color palette ranged from Kelly greens to soft blue, anchored by black.
The collection also reinvented the Emporio Armani logo as a simple EA heat-stamped on suede purses, as dangling crystal amulets on jackets and subtly emblazoned on dresses.
With antagonism between the sexes receiving so much attention, the Emporio Armani collection put a refreshing eye on friendship between men and women. The designer grouped a female model in a fuzzy EA sweater with a pair of male models in layers of knitwear, the trio dressed for a relaxed day out.
"I like this story," Armani said.
MARNI'S HARMONY OF CONTRASTS
Francesco Risso's Marni collection for next season turned on bold colors and prints and intended to evoke a feel, according to the show notes, that is "basic, raw, immediate."
"They are women who scream colors and take the vital message into the streets," the designer said.
The collection opened with shiny belted trenches of treated leather or plastic that had unfinished threads left trailing. Sweater dresses clung and bunched seductively on the frame, a contrast to the oversized layering of tunic, vest and wide-legged trousers all in bright greens, purples or red.
Silken dresses were composed of panels of complementary fabrics and prints, united by a big, bent brass button. Knit hoods peeked out of tailored jackets with feline eye prints, reminiscent of a spookier version of the Cheshire cat.
There was a suggestion of recycling in the ponchos formed from blankets and sweaters sewn together with seams inside out — an idea reinforced by the piles of newspapers and used clothes that became the show room seating.
Big gold and silver moon earrings or long trailing feathers finished the looks. Shoes included closed-toed sandals on wavy rubber wedges. Surprisingly, there was none of the brand's trademark fur.