MILAN – For once, even the designers had a reason wear their finest creations as Milan Fashion Week closed with a star-studded gala promoting sustainability in fashion.
The four giants of Made-in-Italy — Armani, Gucci, Prada and Valentino — were among the honorees of the awards promoted by the Italian Fashion Chamber working with Livia Firth's Eco-Age consultancy.
That left a trio of young talent to close out the final day of spring-summer womenswear previews on Monday. Here are some highlights:
PUNK INVASTION FROM SSHEENA
Sabrina Mandelli walked her punk-inspired SSheena collection straight from the runway into Milan's Piazza del Duomo, scattering pigeons and giving passers-by a rare glimpse into the invitation-only world of Italian ready-to-wear shows.
The brand founded in 2015 takes its name from the Ramones song "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker," an extra S added for Mandelli's first name. For her Milan runway debut, the designer presented a soft-to-hard progression of looks.
She started with satiny athletic wear in deep burgundy parachute material, extending into a pleated skirt with a plastic layer, fluid dresses and then trousers adorned with garters and split at the ankle. Teardrops were a motif that showed up on eyewear as a long glass ornament hanging from some frames and as beaded fringe on other designs. The fringe was repeated dramatically as the extension of pinstripes on a jacket mini-dress.
Another motif was the monocle, represented in circular prints on handkerchief dresses, to reference a lesbian club of that name in 1930s Paris.
"They went there to be themselves. My girls now can express themselves in Piazza Duomo. I hope something has changed," Mandelli said.
LOVE'S CONTRADICTIONS BY DAIZY SHELY
Israeli designer Daizy Shely commissioned a print by artist Umberto Chiodi for her latest collection, a colorful and kinetic tour de force that examines love's contradictions. The print features dreamy cupids and female figures, but also more disturbing details like ropes tightening around necks.
"I wanted to create a personal collection talking about love. Not only romantic love, but your relationship with your friends. The good parts of it and the bad parts of it. Putting that contrast together," the designer said backstage.
Milan-based Shely displayed her tailoring in a denim dress made pretty with pleated tiers in blue shirt cloth and her detailing with daisies embroidered on a denim jacket. There was a burst of color and movement in a series of asymmetrical fringe dresses in acid green and yellow. French lace tops are decorated with ostrich feathers.
"I put a lot of attention to details because this is what makes the difference between the regular commercial world and the designer," Shely said.
UJOH SOFTENS DECONSTRUCTIONS
Japanese designer Mitsuru Nishizaki plays with tailoring and pattern cutting in the latest collection for his Ujoh brand, which had its Milan debut last year.
The looks started out in dark, matte colors and then exploded into colorful patterns featuring red flowers and some flashes of gold. Designs for a woman's wilder side followed more masculine cuts,
During the first half of the collection, Nishizaki featured asymmetrical and cut-through details on deconstructed jackets. A favorite silhouette is an off-shoulder jumper, seemingly cut from men's trousers, paired with spilling out soft tops.
In the second half, he moved toward lighter pieces, including billowing, parachute-like jackets, skirts and jumpers.
With Livia Firth's Eco-Age spearheading the Green Carpet Fashion Awards, it was fitting that her husband, actor Colin Firth, help out as a presenter in Milan since he was granted Italian citizenship last week. Livia Firth is Italian.
The awards were held at Milan's famed La Scala opera house. Giorgio Armani wore a tuxedo as he stood on the stage alongside Miuccia Prada in a double-breasted coat.
And there was Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli wearing a suit and tie alongside more casually attired Alessandro Michele of Gucci, in a suit-and-T-shirt combo with his trademark baseball cap.
Other honorees included Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, for her work in the Amazon; the seamstresses of the Valentino fashion house for artisanal tradition; designer Brunello Cucinelli for his project to beautify the Italian valley where he produces his luxury collections; and the Gucci fashion house for supply chain innovation.
Also on hand were songstress Annie Lennox, actors Andrew Garfield and Dakota Johnson, actor-model Lauren Hutton and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. After the awards, everyone moved across the piazza to City Hall for a gala dinner.