Youth to the fore as Milan fashion week opens21 september, 17:00
Milan fashion week kicked off on Wednesday with collections from Italian labels Grinko and Blugirl setting a youth-orientated tone for six days of catwalk creativity, AFP report.
Blugirl, the sexy younger sister of designer Anna Molinari's main womenswear brand Blumarine, served up a typically irreverent, mix-and-match collection on the opening morning.
Bohemian romanticism was to the fore in the form of 70s-style off-the-shoulder tops with puffball sleeves.
But the look was hardened sometimes with biker boots and sharp fringes helping to create a 'rock chick' edge, while a military theme was balanced out by ultra-feminine, delicate touches including frilly neckties.
Next up were newcomers Wunderkind, the youth-targeted branch of Germany's Joop which is one of three Milan debutants among the 71 catwalk shows scheduled between now and Monday.
Paris-based couture star Giambattista Valli has shown his own younger line, Giamba, in Milan before but Friday's show will be the first time it has been included in the official programme.
The other newcomers are Chinese label Ricostru, the latest up-and-coming talent to benefit from the patronage of Giorgio Armani.
They will display their 2017 Spring/Summer collection on Monday at the Teatro Armani, which has been entirely given over to young designers in a move that has been branded something of a gamble.
Armani himself usually presents his main collection on the final day of Milan, thereby helping to delay the departure of hundreds of buyers and media for the next leg of the global fashion circuit, in Paris.
This year however the veteran designer is showing his main line on Friday and his Emporio Armani collection in Paris, generating fears the whole circus will decamp to the French capital on Sunday evening, after Dolce and Gabbana's afternoon show.
Carlo Capasa, the head of Italy's Chamber of Fashion, defended the decision. "I have a very high regard for young designers and I think it is right that we have a day just for them: the day of the future," he told reporters.
- Gender-bending -
Alessandro Michele's latest offering for Gucci was set to be the highlight of an opening day on which Alberta Ferretti, Roberto Cavalli and Philipp Plein are also showing.
The future of fashion's system of twice-yearly menswear and womenswear shows is up in the air because of trends towards unisex collections and clothes being made available to buy immediately, rather than four months after the catwalk show.
For Milan that could have significant consequences. "The indirect benefits to the city of the last fashion week in September were estimated at 48 million euros," said deputy mayor Cristina Tajani, who said the industry could do more to help its host city.
"We have done our bit by putting some of the city's symbolic venues at the disposal of young designers for their shows," she said, urging fashion houses to get involved in organising events that are accessible to the general public rather than just fashion insiders.
Capasa said his organisation was already doing that. "We are putting a lot of emphasis on the special events that will take place in the city in parallel with the shows," he said.
One event that will be strictly invitation only will be Bottega Veneta's show in Milan's Academy of Fine Art.
For the first time in its history, the couture house will show its menswear and womenswear collections together amid the artworks to celebrate its 50th anniversary and designer Tomas Maier's 15 years as its artistic director.
Gucci, whose look has taken a gender-bending turn under Michele, has already announced it will show its men and women's collections together from September 2017, as has Antonio Marras.
By Angus MACKINNON