In 1969 the Milan-based publishing house Edizioni del Naviglio, released 27 pochoir prints of Sonia Delaunay's early Haute Couture designs. One of the prints included in the portfolio showed an Art Deco piece from 1923, an ensemble called "Robe Zig-Zag" that perfectly summarised the artist's passion for abstract geometrical elements. This specific print came to mind yesterday during Salvatore Ferragamo runway.
Though Delaunay was a constant reference for the founder of the Italian fashion house, Creative Director Massimiliano Giornetti wasn't actually trying to channel the artist in his new collection for the Italian brand.
The starting points for this collection were indeed Oskar Schlemmer and the Bauhaus and Hannah Höch and Dadaism. Rather than the Bauhaus' textile workshop, Giornetti seemed more interested in the interplay between rigid and soft planes, a dichotomy that also characterised Hannah Höch's fabric and yarn dolls.
There is indeed a 1920 picture portraying Höch with two of her puppets representing her daughters Pax and Botta that looks quite interesting as the dolls are wearing disc-like skirts and some of their joints seem to be created reusing sphere-like elements.
Her Dada dolls were indeed characterised by a combination of rigid and soft materials, and had a kinetic quality about them.
While marionettes have often been used as metaphors for female enslavement and bourgeois domesticity, Höch's dolls also hinted at the role of women in society. In the same way, Giornetti made a statement in this collection about emancipated women who, rather than being trapped by relations, social or financial constrictions, are free to do what they want with their lives and can definitely buy their own luxurious wardrobes.
The runway opened with a black cape contoured by zig-zag raw cuts, one of the themes of the collection, that also returned on completely white ensembles or in skirts made using a combination of coloured strips, a classic old-fashioned technique to make doll's clothes.
The felt skirts in multi-coloured zigzag patterns actually rang a bell with fashion critics raised in the '70s in Italy: if you were a child then and your mother or aunt were the lucky owners of a pair of zigzag cut decorative scissors you were a privileged soul as there was a trend to make doll's clothes and puppets with felt.
Then the colours of the Sol LeWitt runway little by little crept onto the shoes and clothes, gradually spreading energetic shades of pink, blue, mustard, green, black and white in variegated stripes, infinite lines and zigzagging patters onto the outerwear and accessories.
Höch's photomontages and paper abstractions were infused in the achitecturally modular garments that could be zipped and unzipped or buttoned and unbuttoned and therefore reconfigured, but at times the colour palette seemed lifted from her collages and her chopped up classical statues returned in the pleated designs included in the collection.
Silk and knit slipdresses with pleated skirts had a strong graphic quality that pointed towards Delaunay's colourful exuberance and lean silhouettes, though the knitted shifts may prove a better choice investment-wise; blouses worn with full, pleated skirts in mismatched patterns and the Pierrot-like mink pompoms were instead less convincing.
The outerwear offer included coats covered in grids of multi-coloured fur squares (a trend as proved at Iceberg's) and light coats in vertical stripes with round hems.
Accessories featured suede and lizard skin boots, sporty sandals decorated with mink strips, fur T-bar shoes (for that fairy tale touch, after all Cinderella's slipper was originally made of fur...), handbags covered in zigzag motifs or shaped like cosmetic hard train cases, while jewellery veered more towards the geometrically modernist.
In a way it was a game of juxtapositions between soft and rigid materials, so fur and pleated/fluid shapes versus zigzagging spiked contours. The general mood was playful, though, especially when compared to the A/W 2015 collection that seemed more serious and veered towards a darker palette lifted from interior design.
Considering that Milan has been more colourful than ever this season, the show was on trend. We'll soon discover if colours spread also onto the French runways as tomorrow the fashion circus moves to Paris.
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