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Fashion houses turn to their creative best to beat the pandemic blues



Fashion houses trying to figure out how to reach new eyeballs after the long ordeal of the pandemic have centered around a singular idea: collaborations.

And what can be a better platform than the ongoing Milan Fashion Week

Many are doing it, in big ways and small. Gucci, which famously “hacked” Balenciaga last season, launched an e-commerce site featuring refurbished vintage Gucci pieces alongside capsule collections by young designers chosen by Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele.

Michele said the project was born out of his life-long obsession with collecting fashion, including Gucci items before he ever joined the brand.

Michele added that the brand has a vast network of sources for vintage Gucci, which it has been tapping to rebuild its archive. The launch includes a white Jackie bag meticulously cared for by its previous owner that he wanted to keep for himself.

Then, laughing, he said, “Who knows, maybe I will log on tonight and buy it myself!”

Dolce & Gabbana wanted to shine a light back on glamour with their latest collection — and they did. Their bedazzling looks shone a spotlight that could easily be visible from orbit.

The silhouette was unapologetically sexy, built around corsets, micro-mini dresses, and skimpy lingerie, fundamental elements in the brand’s creative language.

Designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana went all out with light-refracting embellishments, covering garments in rhinestones, adding beading, and indulging in metallic accents and fringe.

Models walked down a mirrored runway under roving spotlights. Densely bejeweled jackets contrasted with narrow camouflage cargo pants or distressed jeans. A series of jackets had sculptured sleeves straight off the couture runway. Trousers were low-waisted, leaving room for studded lingerie to peek through.

With the world ground to a near halt, Fashion Designer Arthur Arbesser’s team primed their creative juices by recycling shipping boxes into cardboard flowers and crocheting fanciful hats.

The collection’s title “Lost and Found,” refers concretely to inspirations found in a family attic that spark happy memories, but it can also mean things lost and found in the pandemic, like the joy of making things in quiet moments.

In the wake of the pandemic, the Milan-based Austrian designer has happily given up the runway for more personal presentations, transforming a storefront in Milan’s tony luxury shopping district into a creative studio decorated with a bespoke mural and displaying a new line of table clothes along with his latest collection.

For the 164-year-old Italian hatmaker Borsalino, there’s nothing like a pandemic shutdown to rethink a business. The company used the time to focus on new collaborations, extending the brand into leather goods and scarves through licensing deals, relaunching its digital presence, optimizing production, and getting the kinks out of machinery that otherwise could be idled.

The Spring/Summer 2022 collection launched this week is a journey through Japan, Italy, and South American. Dark denim baseball caps and bucket hats are personalized with charms or Geisha prints for a Tokyo hip look. A hand-crocheted raffia hat represents Sicilian craftsmanship. And Ecuadorean influences come through on Panama hats with distinctive ribbons.

The Ferragamo tale of next summer too is an easy-to-wear silhouette with sexy moments for the post-pandemic starved woman.

Smock dresses have a deep-revealing V and open backs, while more form-fitting wrap dresses featured suggestive slits. Trousers were loose-fitting harem pants with wrapped details, paired, for example, with a crisscross top.

Menswear included knit combinations, low-waisted trousers with braided belts, and leg-bearing shorts under a coat jacket.

Brooke Shields, accompanied by daughter Grier Hency, graced the front-row seats, along with American actors Ashley Benson, Madelyn Cline, Ashton Sanders and Ross Butler.

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