Woman power has been something of a recurrent theme in fashion of late, from Dior’s “We Should All Be Feminist” tees to the strong shoulders and Working Girl/Reagan-era OTT glamour references (shoulder pads and all) we’ve seen emerge on the catwalk in recent collections.
There’s been an eschewing of minimalism, the dominant trend for so long, in brace of something a little, well, extra.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Milan – spiritual home of fashion maximalists – during fashion week.
As The Cut’s Stella Bugbee noted of the effect that being in Milan during this ultimate gathering of the world’s finest peacocks/magpies can have on one’s psyche/shopping habits, “It’s a place where you frequently see civilians wearing head-to-toe Gucci looks at 9am on a weekday. Even during a non-fashion week, Milan is a city that would bring out the fashion obsessive in people who like clothes — add the high of seeing so many extravagant shows, and we’re like kids in a candy shop ready to put our mouths directly under the Jelly Belly dispenser and just let it rip.”
And as Prada – a house that always explores what it means to be a woman – proved with its Milan Fashion Week collaboration with eight all-female comic book artists (including Brigid Elva, Jöelle Jones, Stellar Leuna and Giuliana Maldini) there’s something particularly powerful about not just supporting other women but finding ways, as per the show’s notes, for women to be shown in their own “uniquely empowering way”.
The artists work with everything from manga to sci-fi and also took inspiration from comic book writer Tarpé Mills who created the first female action-hero, Miss Fury.
It resulted in a collection that was heavily layered – both physically and metaphorically – with pieces that included mannish business shirts and 50s-esque full skirts, excellent printed overcoats, clashing prints and textures and spiky brogues. Pieces for a woman who is assured in herself, despite being complicated and interesting: women who aren’t afraid to experiment (and wear cartoon prints) tend to be.
Yet at Max Mara a different kind power could be found. Max Mara proved that a statement can be made quietly too, in good tailoring and sticking to the classics: a belted trench or nipped-in blazer are armour for modern women and won’t let you down.
At Fendi, model on the rise Kaia Gerber (Cindy Crawford’s daughter) was queen bee in a sculptural striped skirt suit, making something old-fashioned entirely modern, and brimming with possibility.