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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Whisper-Quiet Anniversaries

Landmarks for Angela Missoni, Antonio Marras, Ennio Capaso at Costume National and Veronica Etro

3 Марта 2016

Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Fashion anniversaries are usually showy affairs, celebrating brand longevity or family achievement, complete with landmark birthdays. But this powerful Milan season – the best in years – set me thinking about why familiar and often family brands should have had such a ripe fashion harvest.

My theory is that energy has come from a generation, perhaps brought up in the shadow of famous parents, who are reaching a high of their own creativity. It is almost 20 years since Angela Missoni took the baton from her parents Rosita and Tai (Ottavio).

In two years, Veronica Etro will celebrate a 20th anniversary since she and her brother Kean, started to build a fashion brand out of the family fabric business. The evocative, eerie celebration of Victoriana from Antonio Marras marks 20 years since he started showing in Rome, while Ennio Capasa of Costume National marked his 30th anniversary with a colourful show (from a designer wedded to black). It was a powerful statement about art over commerce.

I have been interested in studying this current development not with big interviews about special moments, but rather reading changes through the clothes. Here are some of my deliberations on designers at their peak.

Costume National: Breaking a Colour Barrier 

The entrance to the Costume National show was a multi-coloured carpet made by Sicilian artist Catena Sanalitro, a mad mosaic of found objects and handwork that was breathtaking in its vivid shades and intriguing textiles. But why was this work the entrée to Ennio Capasa’s Costume National show, when Ennio famously loves any colour as long as it’s black? Ever since he was defined as part of the 1990s “counter-couture”, the designer has barely shown a single fancy coloured outfit. There I sat, mouth agape, watching the impeccable Costume National tailoring re-configured as a coat in deep mauve, in green with a Lurex sparkle, or in black with big blue flowers.

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Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Costume National, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


There was even a soft trouser suit in dark red velvet and a shirt and trousers with bold digital prints. I did not remember any such colourful scenario before - even when the designer would shake it up with cool music celebrities. So backstage I asked what had brought on the “new” Costume National. The reply was passionate. “I need some kind of romance and to be creative,” he said. “The stage was meant for fashion, but all designers are obliged to please the market; we have all become commercial. But we have to design with intensity - to have the sense of fashion to be a visionnaire.” It was inspiring, even moving, to hear a designer with such passion after 30 years.

Missoni: Knits with Sex Appeal

Can Angela Missoni really be turning 20 next year – as the design leader of the family company, that is? In fact, her time at Missoni goes back to childhood, as she played with wisps of wool on the floor of her parent’s workshop. After recently seeing a museum exhibition about Missoni and its heritage (soon to be shown at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London), I thought I knew everything about the company, from bales of raw wool to the art that Tai and Rosita collected. But here was Angela coming up with a new spirit for the famous knitwear house: seduction. There was something of the defiant teenager out there in a soft knitted cardigan, floppy trousers, and a scarf so long that both colourful sides would sweep the floor. Sneaker-clad young women strode out in long – as in ankle-length – horizontally striped dresses, with yet another scarf in vibrant coloured stripes draped over their shoulders. When lengths were shorter there were various girly additions, like a bow instead of shoelaces and ankle socks (colourful) with gleaming threads.

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Missoni, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Missoni, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Missoni, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Missoni, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Missoni, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Missoni, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Angela Missoni

Angela Missoni


Backstage, Angela said the look was “lean, long and leggy” - and all about knits. She then handed out leaflets of key words for Autumn/Winter 2016, which included cheeky checks, languid layering and sexy scarves, plus, of course, zigzags, without which a Missoni show would not be complete. This was no palace revolution, with Angela fighting her mother and brothers for a daring new look. It was just Missoni re-configured with a bit more wit to the knit. Perhaps, for her double-decade celebration, Angela is aiming at 20-year-olds. And why not go for the future, rather than live off the past?

Etro: Veronica Remembers Her London Years

Taking the blinds off the familiar Etro show space and letting the light flood in was symbolic of a fresh new world for Veronica Etro. “For me it was important to bring fashion down into real life –that’s why I wanted to show with the daylight,” said Veronica. “Also, for me, personal identity was important – the idea that something could be customised or personalised.” The designer was talking about a fluidity of fabrics within one outfit; and also fabric and workmanship that she called “between the raw and the decorated”.

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Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Etro, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


Veronica wanted to re-live her first taste of freedom, when she was studying at Central St Martins in London. From that came British plaid coats or a student-like way of wearing clothes, as if a red velvet jacket and printed trousers had come from a flea market. The freshness of the show was in its proportions, with brief tops balancing short skirts and long dresses sweeping under tailored coats. Perhaps the sense of freedom in a little jacket with short skirt or a flowing chiffon dress came from that London period, although it reminded me of the 1970s. Whatever the story behind it, there was a new spirit. The show also included motifs of Japanese prints of dragons and tigers. It’s a long stride from Indian paisley to the urban, modern world. But 18 years in, Veronica has made that leap for Etro. 

Antonio Marras: A Visual Story Teller 

It is nearly 30 years since Antonio Marras told his first haute couture fashion story in Rome, before moving to the ready-to-wear Milan calendar in 1996. So many tales he has told, usually with a Victorian angle and a woman in torment or, in this season’s case, going mad in a reed-? rose?-filled garden with a figure in a scarlet printed-wool robe wrapped round silken floral pyjamas. The Marras collections always sound kitsch, yet they are sweetly emotional. His ability to layer different fabrics is unique – as in this season’s apron of furs over a black leather dress.

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Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


The best word to describe his style is “fluidity”, meaning that the fabrics fall gently over the body, barely touching it. But this season there was some serious tailoring: coats and jackets to counter-balance the layers of fur, even in a series of pastel colours. If each piece were separated, plucking out a flower-embroidered sweater or even a decorated handbag, the clothes would seem more modern and more accessible. But I would never want to snuff out this designer’s extraordinary imagination.

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Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Antonio Marras, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


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