A cat, an innocent young girl, a hint of a Balthus painting — and a certainty that something is changing in fashion.
Arthur Arbesser showed his collection on the final day of Milan Fashion Week, just before Giorgio Armani, where Arbesser trained for seven years.
A sweater decorated with a red rose and worn with a short skirt opened the show by the Viennese designer, who encapsulated a return of innocence and gentility in Italian fashion.
This fresh vision is so very different from the bustier tops and thigh-high skirts of the TV presenter styling of the Berlusconi years — the former Italian Prime Minister who incorporated bunga bunga parties into his political duties.
Arbesser's sweet and gentle approach was light years from that hyped-up vulgarity, and light in feeling too: fabric and colour was the main message, the young innocents walking the runway wearing a simple pine green or flowered dress; or a faintly transparent top veiling pubescent breasts. The designer was exploring interesting fabrics such as techno nylon or knitted net, mixed with simple cotton crepe or fluid silk.
The storyline was related to the art of Balthus, hence a model sprawled in a chair and an outsize statue of a cat. There were also more direct artistic relationships, with watercolour flower prints from French artist Agathe Singer. Live music by London-based composer and singer British Jordan Hunt added to the mood of youthful innocence.
The Arbesser clothes aren't revolutionary. But they speak gently to a new generation.