At two fashion houses known for iconic patterns, Pucci calmed them down and Etro made them pop
Pucci without pattern
I remembered the first time I absorbed the sight of Pucci without its distinctive pattern. It was at the sale of the personal property of Marilyn Monroe at Christie's in 1999, when a series of skirts and dresses — sporty, in stretch fabrics and sorbet colours — convinced me that the “Emilio” squiggle and graphic swirls were not the only way of identifying the brand.
Wiping out print on the early outfits, but keeping the streamlined glamour, is one way that Massimo Giorgetti is modernising a label that has its roots in the elegant, aristocratic age when the jet set was born.
“These are the original colours from the archives — and this is the challenge of jersey because I really want to move the Pucci dress into now — taking away the iconic print and representing Pucci in a contemporary and modern way,” said the designer backstage.
Massimo was referring to the opening outfits in strong-but-sweet colours such as canary yellow, dark orange, duck-egg blue and yellow overlaid with pink that were, in fact, taken from the archives. These long, lean, softly draped clothes looked fresh, if relatively alike.
The same applied to the batch of prints that followed. The patterns were pale, but contouring to the body. Then they became bolder, swirling like marble, before the sporty clothes, swimsuits included, broke into bursts of colour and print. If Massimo had not explained it, I would have missed the point of the entire show: a variety in the fabrics themselves.
“Jersey georgette, jersey chiffon and tulle — there are lots of things that seem like jersey but are not — and for prints, like this laser-cut intarsia knitwear,” explained Massimo. “There is an amazing mix of artisanal and future techniques because I used the best of Italian manufacturers for this collection.”
So what appeared to be a same-y Pucci collection in fact had a lot of variety, which hopefully will be explained to customers in store.
Etro: Pop go the hippies
Veronica Etro is wedded to the de luxe hippie look and her show notes described a “gang of eclectic travelers” exploring the world from the Sahara desert to wherever. Yet her work was the strongest for Spring/Summer 2017 when she escaped from Magreb-meets-Ibizia patterns, flowing dresses or mini caftans into a crisper, workaday world. A simple wrap dress with vertical and horizontal lines looked much fresher than a pull-on top that could have come from a Moroccan souk.
Fortunately for brand Etro, the designer mostly kept the quirkiness, as in floppy sun hats and long patterned chiffon dresses, while also making the show more pop, sporty and dynamic. Flesh helped. When the patterns were on tunic-length tops worn over bare legs, the collection seemed to take a sprightly step off the eternal hippie trail.
Etro's fabrics are so dense with pattern but light in execution that the brand is fortunate to have a family member who understands the meld of ethnic styling and luxurious execution that makes certain Etro pieces so covetable.