It is safe to say at the close of another Milan Fashion Week that this has been a statement-making season, just not necessarily a statement about clothes.
You could certainly feel it on the runway of Missoni, where models took their finale walk in a parade of Missoni-branded pussy hats, and the designer Angela Missoni led a rousing defense of liberty before editors could dash off to the next show. You could most definitely feel it at Versace, where Donatella Versace (in what was maybe or maybe not a farewell performance) affixed license-plate-size messages of EQUALITY and LOVE and LOYALTY to winter knits, including hats, scarves, dresses, and herself. And boy, oh, boy, could you find a statement on the runway of Dolce & Gabbana on Sunday, when the designers staged a tour-de-force extravaganza by replacing many of its models with famous bloggers, celebrity offspring, socialites, and assorted influencers.
The Dolce & Gabbana show was so over the top in its embrace of diversity and family friendliness that it may, in fact, have done wonders to set right the reputation of provocateurs Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana. After witnessing many of the designers’ self-inflicted controversies, audiences are accustomed to looking for red flags at their shows. Instead, they delivered adorable Austin Mahone, dashing in a tapered tux, singing (or lip-syncing) all of his greatest hits as he serenaded the social media elite. Pamela Anderson, Christie Brinkley, Rene Russo, Lisa Rinna, and Harry Hamlin were seated in the front row to root for their assorted children as they appeared in the show, which, to the rest of us, gave the sensation of crashing a Hollywood High School graduation ceremony.
The cast was fascinating and must have cost a fortune to assemble. Here, just a sampling: Coco Brandolini, Kenya Kinski-Jones, Rafferty (son of Jude) Law, Alexandra and Ella (daughter and granddaughter of Keith) Richards, Lucky Blue Smith, Andrea Dellal and her daughters Alice and Charlotte, Luka Sabbat, Halle and Chloe Bailey, the hot tennis player Grigor Dimitrov, pretty much everyone related to Steve Harvey, and several loyal clients of all ages and sizes. And Jennifer Tilly, because, why not?
VIDEO: Runway Remix: Watch Our Recap of Milan Fashion Week
In lesser hands, this gambit might have seemed like a gimmick, but Dolce and Gabbana are practiced showmen, and the results would melt even the most cynical of hearts, mine included. What’s even more impressive is that the collection, which lacked a unifying theme, incorporated many of the fun elements that have appeared throughout their recent work, with floral garlands and kitty cat prints, lovely lacy things, and the random Justin Beiber concert T. And you could tell by the smiles on the faces of every model, famous or not, that the women here felt beautiful, and it showed.
While Donatella Versace has been rumored be working with her close pal, former Givenchy designer Riccardo Tisci, on a potential succession plan, nothing has been set in stone. It’s been 20 years, after all, that Donatella has been designing the label. So naturally, there was a great deal of curiosity about what she would show. The results, once again, were very powerful because they were very personal, as Versace has long been a champion of diversity and inclusion in fashion. Take away the rallying-cry messaging and you still have some powerfully tailored suit jackets (lots of black for fall) and fun-colored furs (electric yellow-trimmed shearling, anyone?). Her recent work has been so good that you would almost hate to see her hand over the reigns to a man.
Beyond the impact of Missoni’s visual ode to the Women’s March movement, the collection was one of the best from the house in many seasons. Beyond the general mix of delicious desert-meets-dessert colors, there were many attractive pieces, like great coats of patchwork or stripes, wavy patterned dresses, and a pair of knit sweater dresses made with a harlequin pattern (one blue, one red, plus a white version as a skirt) that made a great statement all on their own.
I wasn’t able to make it in person to the Giorgio Armani show that closed the Milan collections on Monday morning. I had been up all night watching the other Armani show—that is, the Oscars red carpet, where King Giorgio led the night with his gorgeous Privé gowns for Nicole Kidman, Isabelle Huppert, and Viola Davis. But I woke in time to catch the livestream, and was charmed by what appeared to be a jacket and a coat with a canine motif. Let the Oscars have the gowns. Here, Armani was focused on the day with fuzzy coats with pops of blue and red, and lacquered red jackets, his loose tulip trousers making their regular appearance along with old Armani friends like a draped velvet dress and a heck of a lot of hats—just none of the pussy kind.