In Milan, a number of global powerhouses sent out serious and weighty collections reflecting current socio-political and cultural instabilities (see Gucci’s aggressive spiked masks or Marni’s punkish lineup.) Yet younger labels like Arthur Arbesser, Angel Chen and GCDS promoted a sense of defiant optimism, explored through vibrant colours, whimsical prints, and quirky silhouettes. These are the designers looking towards a brighter future.
Instead of his usual artistic tropes, for AW’19, Arthur Arbesser drew inspiration from his upscale Milanese studio overlooking the ancient square of Sant’Ambrogio. It encouraged him to use traditional Tuscan Casentino and Austrian Loden wools for a series of elegant wide-collar wrap coats, which were juxtaposed with flowing dresses and asymmetric skirts in uplifting hues of red, lilac, yellow and mint. Elsewhere, multi-coloured grid and harlequin patterns gave pleated skirts and fitted tops a playful edge, and eye-catching pomegranate and lychee prints refreshed silk maxi dresses and tailored suits – the perfect balance between ease and sophistication, with a healthy dose of whimsy
Returning to Milan after a season in New York, Chinese designer Angel Chen sent out a collection rife with vivid oranges, reds and yellows, inspired by the ceremonial costumes of an ancient Sichuan mountain tribe called the Qiang people. Statement outerwear – a core brand item – gave an otherworldly twist to more wearable pieces including fuzzy kaleidoscopic coats, bubbly wrap puffers and quilted ski jackets with exaggerated pockets. Elongated macramé-like shawls and rainbow striped knits with floor-length sleeves gave an inkling of warmth and humour, while a lace embroidered top added a delicate touch to the overtly loud offering.
Known for its unapologetic, garish aesthetic, this season GCDS channelled OTT nineties nostalgia. The opening glittering, golden bodysuit with an asymmetric puffed sleeve was followed by metallic bralettes, pink vinyl jumpsuits, faux fur wrap coats emblazoned with the GCDS logo, and extravagant pastel boots in collaboration with Polly Pocket. But amongst the madness there were some standout commercial pieces including relaxed pinstripe suits with minimal fluorescent accents, jazzy jersey tracksuits and stylish silk pyjamas sets.