In Depth

Riot Grrrls and Golden Girls at Milan Fashion Week

Radical comic book heroines at Prada and shimmering gilded supermodels at Versace: the high points of the seven days were woman-powered

Miuccia Prada brought in underground manga and zinester comic artists like London-based Brigid Elva to inject her tailoring-heavy collection with militant, activist Grrrl power (at least visually). For Sarah Mower at Vogue.com, it was 'an empowering show' in 'the language of girls who would take their scissors to old dad coats, chop up old dresses to wear over trousers, and decorate themselves with protest pins and gig souvenirs.' Mower observed that such girls probably wouldn't be able to afford the Prada version, though.

On a very different note, Donatella Versace blew everyone's socks off with a glittering nostalgic celebration of her brother Gianni's legacy. The Tribute collection marked 20 years since his murder, and no gilding was spared as Donatella revived Gianni's most iconic designs. Indeed, she concluded the show with a fanfare of 1990s supermodels (Carla, Claudia, Helena, Naomi, Cindy) who stomped down the runway in gold chainmail dresses and 'reduced the jaded fashion audience to gibbering fanbots', according to Vanessa Friedman at The New York Times. Friedman herself was affected too, declaring that, 'for one cathartic moment, you couldn't think about anything else.'

Consistency was the keyword at Gucci, as Alessandro Michele, the designer who has brought astonishing growth in profits and profile, declared his intentions to carry on with his outlandish, eccentric design blueprint – 'a glorious jumble of references', as Jo Ellison at the FT dubbed it: 'If you could imagine it – diamanté chinstrap, brocade boxer shorts, purple sequin papal robe, prim tweed skirts and purse belts, circus ringmaster jacket with blouson sleeve, Bruce Jenner-era tracksuit top, 1980s robo-roller disco tops and matching sparkly tights – it was out there,' Ellison marveled. And when millennial buyers are so much under Michele's spell, who would dare question this magus of mad fashion.

Dolce and Gabbana picked love as the theme with a set made of giant playing cards – 'Queen of Hearts' (who else). Love sprung forth from many sources, as Nicole Phelps of Vogue.com observed: 'Many of the more elaborately embellished pieces borrowed the regalia and finery of the face cards found in a 52-card deck, in fruit and vegetable prints –who among us doesn't love to eat? – in cherubim prints (naturally), and in the revival of the lingerie-exposing hourglass wiggle dresses and corseted tailoring with which the designers began making their mark more than 30 years ago.' But the pair weren't only looking back – the night before the main fashion show, they held a secret show of eveningwear modeled by sons and daughters of wealthy clients and millennial influencers. It was 'one part Le Bal des Debutantes and the other part Hollywood movie premiere', according to Phelps's report on Vogue.com – and in that regard, it was business as usual at Milan Fashion Week.

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