Fashion week is an opportunity for all designer houses to launch their latest collections and compete for media attention with other brands. Last week we saw Milan fashion week come into full swing, and it did not disappoint. As well as giving us all our trend predictions for summer 2020, we also saw iconic looks, celebrity models, and catwalk protests. Moreover, the theme that echoed throughout almost every collection this fashion week: sustainability. It’s true that this year’s fashion in Milan has provided a microscopic look at contemporary concerns in today’s society.
Undoubtedly, the crowned queen of Milan Fashion week was Jennifer Lopez, who rocked the finale of the Vesace runway in a re-design of *that* 2000s dress. The concept of the whole show referenced J-Lo’s iconic look throughout, with flowing skirts and green jungle print used sporadically to foreshadow the emergence of the dress that broke the internet way back when. The 2019 edition of this iconic look keeps the fabric and plunging neckline of the original, while removing the sleeves and parting the skirt to have more of a cape effect.
A great aspect of fashion week is that the collection become the inspiration for the following season of high street fashion, so a look to the runway can tell us what to expect in stores in the future. The ‘jungle print’ trend went beyond the Versace runway; designers such as Georgio Armani and fashion house Marni both used floral and tropical prints with inspiration from the classic Hawaiian shirt. Bright and bold block colours were heavily featured throughout the week, with the standout being a bright orange that was used in multiple pieces across several different collections (prepare for the Primark shelves to get a tango makeover this spring). Leather jackets in particular featured a wide variation of bright colours, mostly in bold primary and secondary hues, rather than this years pastels. Suits and their silhouettes were heavily played with in women’s fashion, with the pant suit being reinvented to make way for the short suit. Wear in a bright colour and pair with a shirt and tie for true #bosslady vibes.
Speaking of boss ladies, Ayesha Tan Jones caused a stir on the Gucci runway by protesting their collection while walking in the show. The model decided to peacefully protest the brands decision to feature strait-jacket inspired looks in their collection by holding up her hands as she walked the runway, showing the words ‘mental health is not fashion’ written upon them. At first, this was believed to be an intentional aspect of the show, however Gucci officials later confirmed that it was an act of protest. Gucci also defended their decision to include these looks by sighting their inspiration to be a statement “to represent how through fashion, power is exercised over life.”, and focus on uniformity in humanity. In defence of their own actions of protest, Tan-Jones argued that the stigma behind mental health issues must end, and spoke specifically of the Gucci show in saying that “It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of straitjackets and outfits alluding to mental patients, while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat.”
Protests were also prevalent in London fashion week, as the eco group Extinction Rebellion staged a funeral procession for the death of the earths future as a way of protesting the fashion industry and its impact on global environmental change. While Milan avoided pressures of this nature, sustainability was still the theme in mind throughout the week. In a more positive spin for the company, Gucci announced its plans to become completely carbon neutral. Burberry also drew focus because of its endorsement of VSC and REDD+ projects, which prevent deforestation and conserve tropical rain forest in the Brazilian Amazon. As far as sustainability, Creative Director of Marni, Francesco Risso was man of the match in Milan. The decoration for his runway was made from materials recycled from previous shows. For example, the plastic bottles displayed in his June menswear show were reformed into palm tree leaves by artist Judith Hopf for Milan. This sentiment was also applied to the clothing, as the fabrics used were recycled from plastic bottles, and archived brand materials.
The effort being made by fashion houses to increase sustainability in their industry is a huge step in the right direction, and gives hope towards a future of cruelty free, carbon neutral fashion. This is a great start, but we need to see consistent results in reducing the carbon footprint of fashion. Furthermore, the events of Fashion week show that the industry still has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity, sensitivity and social awareness in order to find the line between artistic expression and deliberate controversy.
Image: Simon Saw via Flickr