For two very different designers, a sense of place reinforces the vision of the clothes
Missoni: Sleek silhouettes, slinky fabrics
A spider’s web of lights, reflected in a puddle on the raw stone floor, was in stark contrast to the sinuous summer slip dresses sent out by Angela Missoni. One was an artwork used as a backdrop in the empty factory space on the outer edges of Milan. The other had less graphic geometry and more sleek curves.
The clothes were long and lean, but flowing and flexible, clothing the body artfully, as in a silken dress where a cappuccino-coloured bodice flowed downwards into burnt umber and turquoise.
Mixtures of colour and pattern have kept Missoni fresh for all these years. But the subtlety of this season was that Angela added what she called “soft, compacted, and weightless textures” that are “shaved, perforated, raised and elaborated”.
The problem for the viewer is how to distinguish between different materials and finishings when the models race past. What should be a judgement in three dimensions comes down to two.
On the upside, nothing for Spring/Summer 2017 looked complex or difficult to wear, although teeny-tiny bikinis seemed embarrassingly small – and not so cute. But Angela has, in general, stripped away thick wools – for any season. The comfort zone that was the home of Missoni knits has been peeled away. And in this collection, the illusion of simplicity worked well.
Arthur Arbesser: Horses and homeland
Everything seemed to fall in place for Arthur Arbesser, a finalist in last year’s LVMH Prize for budding talent. The Italian-based designer dug into his great-grandparents’ roots in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, using their childhood school uniforms and vacation clothing in a graphic re-mix.
It was not just the use of gingham checks, fancied up with a shimmering Swarovski surface, that gave the collection a crisp, geometric feel. There was also a sense of space in the location – the newly renovated Austrian Stables (Cavallerize) within the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology – where the noble, box-like architecture was originally commissioned by the Hapsburg family.
While vintage airplanes filled the courtyard, the interior was reconfigured along modern lines by Italian architect Luca Cipelletti. The models walked forcefully across the floor, following the straight lines of the Brutalist space, with its white pillars and polished stone floor. Using red, green, and white stripes (with further geometry including black and white striped mini boots), Arbesser showed sportswear with a few subtle twists on the frills and furbelows of the past.
There were some surprises, like two red spears appliquéd on a green and white shirt and shorts, or a sudden appearance of a shirt dress and suit in camouflage. But mostly the clothes were linear, functional, and dynamic. And despite his historic foray, the sense of harmony between place and space marks Arbesser as designer fit for now.