#SuzyMFW: We Are Family
Italian designers like Etro, Antonio Marras, Emilio Pucci and Plan C have a tribal strength
Etro at 50: All in the family
In a flood of colours, prints and with a 'hallucinogenic' sense of joy, Etro turned 50 in Milan, with women’s designer Veronica Etro, 20 years at the helm, celebrating with all that the family loves: Paisley, patchwork, quilts and silks.
Veronica Etro called the show 'Pacific Zen'.
They were worthy of a company that started as a fabric maker and has gone on to be the rich and rare supplier to the fashion world.
Prints on silk or chiffon had a beach-side elegance.
“It was emotional to do that work - it’s very important when you have a family company, which is a very Italian thing,” said Veronica backstage in front of her crazy mood board that moved from paradise in the Pacific through every kind of dreamscape, embracing nature, but also womankind’s stitchwork, from jacquard denim and craft, to crochet and macramé.
She called this mass of magical materials, so fresh and easy looking on the runway, “Pacific Zen”.
“I can't describe it, it’s almost like things are innate from the very beginning and you don’t even have to tell each other things," the designer said about keeping it all in the family. “We chat about things whilst eating!”
Etro stayed true to its family roots with Paisley, patchwork, quilts and silks.
You have to be speedy in fashion today that is all about change. And that has been Etro’s strength - keeping its eye on changing colours (orange is currently the new pink) but also never pulling out the roots. So there was Paisley - the origin of Etro’s patterning - that was mostly on long slim dresses, or they may be equally drawn on a coat over a bikini, a flowered top and skirt and - why not? - on surf boards.
Etro founder Gerolamo 'Gimmo' Etro and his daughter Veronica at the Spring/Summer 2019 show
Tumbling into the ocean with this colourful accessory, it was time to dive into a different and more sophisticated look - prints on silk or chiffon had a beach-side elegance. My eye was caught by yellow-green silk, with patches of blue flowers, the colour enhanced by sparkling beads like drops of water - just another miracle of craftsmanship found only in Italy.
And the dedication of a family to a beauty that is passed on from one generation to the next by human hands.
Etro’s strength is keeping its eye on changing colours.
‘Generation Paisley’, the exhibition to celebrate 50 years of Etro, is on at MUDEC (the Museum of Culture) in Milan until 14th October 2018.
Antonio Marras: Fashion’s great storyteller
Antonio Marras was backstage with heaps of feather headdresses, a booklet of a story about Ethiopia - and a son to translate the story into English for me. And what a real-life story! Gathered together by Patrizia Sardo Marras, the designer’s wife, it told the tale of a princess who was the wife of Emperor Haile Selassie and sent to exile on an island before she died and was buried in Italy.
Fantastical feathered hats at Antonio Marras SS19.
The show ended with soldiers gasping for life in the blowing sand. But eyes were on the fantastical feathered hats in the shades of green that dominated the show like moss, the hue created on every garment.
Moss green featured heavily across the collection.
Yet, significantly, each wild-at-heart hat was followed by a modern, wearable outfit. Even if there were a good deal of leopard prints, many of the outfits were simple lace or cotton dresses, perhaps with those animal prints featured on a purse or belt. The result was a hint of the wild, but on wearable, modern clothes.
Wild-at-heart hats were followed by a modern, wearable outfit.
Marras is a rare figure in fashion: an absolute original. And with the help and support of Patrizia, the duo has created a house of exceptional originality.
Antonio Marras SS19.
Emilio Pucci plunges into the Caribbean
For the first time in my memory, Laudomia Pucci, daughter of the founder and keeper of the flame, brought new prints into the heritage brand. Completely new.
To the music of the Caribbean - lively, raucous but also upbeat and charming - the models danced their way through the grand Italian building. The patterns seemed in the spirit of the original aristocratic figure who founded the sporty, colourful brand for his friends.
Models at Pucci SS19.
But that was then. And since the LVMH group took control in 2000, the brand has not yet found its sweet spot.
"The patterns all have the ‘Emilio’ signature - even the new ones," said Laudomia, referring to a wall of framed images, ancient and modern, while the sounds of calypso music had the models - and the other visitors - dancing.
Laudomia Pucci brought new prints into the heritage brand this season.
Relying in-house on new prints made by a team steeped in the brand may be a good way to refresh the heritage one step nearer to current reality.
Plan C: A family heritage
Not all fashion companies survive under single fashion ownership. But those concerned about the departure of Consuelo Castiglioni from the Marni brand, will be intrigued to find her daughter setting up a fashion company.
Carolina Castiglioni showed her first collection, called Plan C, to stockists who are buying into a mix of fabrics, colours and textures - often in a single outfit.
“I played a lot with the masculine and the feminine. For example, for the first look I did a button-down skirt and with a jersey top and a silk dress on top - so you can see the layering," the designer said.
And without shadowing her mother’s Marni history, Carolina suggested a tinge of Consuelo’s whimsical event style.