MILAN — Milan Fashion Week’s third day, mostly womenswear previews for next spring and summer, was all about transformation.
Sometimes inner transformation, like at Gucci, or brand transformation, like at Missoni. And sometimes it was about upgrading the style game, like at Sunnei.
Here are some highlights from Friday’s shows.
Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele constructed a parallel universe on the runway with a surprise theatrical reveal.
For his Spring-Summer 2022-23 collection dubbed ‘’Twinsburg,’’ Michele staged side-by-side shows inside the Gucci Hub, each unbeknownst to the other, until a wall lifted, revealing sets of twins in identical looks in synchronic stride.
For the final walkthrough, the 68 sets of twins met in the center, grasping hands and reuniting. It was so powerful that many in the audience were brought to tears.
“I was crying too. I don’t really know why,’’ Michele said backstage. “I don’t cry often but maybe it was appropriate at the end for me to cry because it was very intense.”
“There are times when I ask myself, why am I doing this? Somebody is talking about nuclear war. Politics is a catastrophe. The situation on the planet is a disaster,’’ Michele added. “But as human beings the only weapon we have is to imagine something else and to make it happen.’’
Michele said the show was an exploration of people’s inner selves, and the notion that they harbor an inner twin who might hold them back or spur them on.
His idea of ‘’the other’’ was shaped by an unusual family arrangement growing up believing he had two mothers: his birth mother and her twin sister. He called both ‘’mamma,’’ as they raised their families in neighboring apartments because they couldn’t bear to be apart, and only started to understand the difference at age 7, when his aunt died.
Michele said presenting his collection in duplicate gave more power to the garments, each of which was styled to the eclectic standard that Michele has set to great global success.
They included a suit with trousers that appeared to be held together by garters revealing the upper thigh, a part of the male physique rarely revealed in formal dressing. Quilted floral jackets and trousers were a genderless affair. A gorgeous silken embroidered robe was pleated at the back with a trailing train.
The notion of an evil twin was represented on the runway by motifs from the 1980s movie ‘’Gremlins,’’ in which the creatures transform to become naughty. Appearing as stuffed accessories, patches and prints, the Gremlins were meant to underline “the fear of your evil-self,’’ Michele said.
Michele emblazoned the word “Fuori!!!” on some garments in an homage to an Italian gay rights organization. Michele has spoken in the past about Italy’s failure to pass landmark legislation that would criminalize hate crimes against gays, women and the disabled, and he indicated concern over forecasts that a far-right party could dominate Italy’s parliamentary elections on Sunday.
“The elections clearly show that freedoms are being eroded little by little,’’ he said.
SUNNEI’S ALTER EGO
The designers behind Milan sensation Sunnei played with the idea of transformation, employing alter egos to Gucci’s twins.
Models in what appeared to be street clothes descended from the stands and walked through a revolving door, through which returned another model with an updated look. Designers Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo seemed to be telling a youthful audience of hoody-loving street dressers how to up their game, style-wise.
So one with a sleeveless sweatshirt and jeans was transformed into a striped green and blue shirt, worn with loose white shorts. A girl in black T-shirt and jeans returned in a long royal blue coat with white satin collar and cuffs. Khaki trousers and a gray shirt disappeared behind the door, and out popped a loose-fitting lime green top with gathered pants, a sort of urban track suit.
The family-run Missoni fashion house took a fresh turn with a new creative director, who looked into the archives for clues how to make brand’s fine knitwear relevant for a new generation.
A star-studded front row signaled the target audience: performer Paris Jackson, U.S. actor Madison Bailey, model and social media influencer Maddie White and Brazilian model Alessandra Ambrosio.
Creative director Filippo Grazioli drew on mini-skirts with deep V-slits over bodysuits and sheer dresses with sequins over zigzag culotte panties.
The looks featured oversized zigzags as well as less familiar geometric patterns from the archives. Shoes for the season were lucite platform heels with wrap around. The looks were complemented with flat silver jewelry.
Not all of the pieces adhered strictly to the Missoni knitwear ethos, including sequin-sprinkled ballet skirts and long sheer dresses, like one Jackson wore with black-and-white zigzag culottes.
Marking the transition, Missoni employees took up half the seats in Bocconi’s subterranean atrium, while students from the Milanese business school watched from above through plate-glass windows.