MILAN — And what of the two Milan Fashion Week debuts at labels that once upon a time epitomized the intellectual, minimalist side of fashion in the city and its id-driven maximalist opposite? Both of which seemed to have lost their way, and their identity, since their founders left, and that have been engaged in a cycle of private equity musical chairs? That both took a risk on unexpected names in a bid to push the reset button?
What, that is to say, of the new designers at Jil Sander and Roberto Cavalli?
Each could have erased the past and redefined the house on personal terms (see, for example, Phoebe Philo at Céline) or paid allegiance to what the founder built and tried to edge cautiously into the future.
Both opted for the latter. You can understand it, but at this point both brands are so far from where they started, the former strategy might have yielded more interesting results.
At Sander, the label that once defined a way for women to enjoy their power while speaking softly and wearing a great suit — that built confidence and sensuality from the inside out, the husband and wife team of Luke and Lucie Meier (him, formerly of Supreme and his own label, OAMC; her, ex-Dior) r offered a dual-gender interpretation of the house’s aesthetic rooted in an almost elegiac combination of novitiate-like austerity and handicraft.
First came floor-length shirt dresses as pure as nuns’ nighties and then with ruffles at the side (aside from Ms. Sander, there were echoes of Yohji Yamamoto in this collection).
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