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Saturday May 15th, 2021 5:38PM

Valentino closes Milan Fashion Week with lush live show

By The Associated Press
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MILAN (AP) — It’s been a season of disruption at Milan Fashion Week.

The hybrid live-virtual formula meant anyone from their homes could watch delightful videos like Moschino’s marionette fashion show, created with the help of Jim Henson Studios, and featuring models wearing tiny Moschino creations while Anna Wintour and other top fashion editors nodded from the front row.

But even those who did virtual shows acknowledge that no video and no photos can replace the energy generated by a live runway show. Fendi, Dolce&Gabbana, Max Mara, Salvatore Ferragamo and Valentino were among the top fashion houses who kept a physical presence this round — despite the absence of editors and buyers from major markets like the United States and Asia.

Those who did make it to Milan got to see fashion without being squeezed on both sides, while also submitting to frequent temperature taking at doors, mandatory mask wearing and the signing of many COVID-19 liability waivers.

Here are highlights from Sunday, the last day of Milan Fashion Week of mostly womenswear previews for Spring-Summer 2021:

VALENTINO’S PICCOLI MAKES MILAN FASHION PREMIERE

The silver lining of the virus-induced travel difficulties that kept many people from traveling to Milan Fashion Week from abroad: They also kept Rome-based Valentino from making the trans-alpine trip to the fashion house’s usual show venue in Paris.

For his first-ever Milan show, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli chose a disused foundry as the backdrop for the lush, romantic collection in the fashion language of lattice and lace; floral detailing and bold prints; ruffles and fringe. But there also was an urban edge, in mini-hemlines and studded detailing.

A sparse 200 guests were spread out on cubes in an industrial space softened by floral arrangements. The British singer Labrinth sang hauntingly in the background.

“The simplification and the quest for new meaning guides the selection of the pieces,” the house said in notes.

Chiffon blouses were worked up into ruffles that envelop the wearer like a rose, worn with slightly distressed jeans. A mini-tunic over short shorts had an edgy urban feel, paired with studded, pointy flats. Longer dresses had lattice work providing just flashes of skin. Sleeves cascading into fringes gave drama to body hugging dresses. The finale, as ordained by the name Valentino, included a rich collection of flowing chiffon dresses in eye-popping monochromes, saving red for last.

All of the key elements, florals, lace, lattice, also were reinterpreted also for men: a floral hoodie, a lace short and top set, a ruffle-front shirt over shorts.

In Milan, “the signs and codes of Valentino today are being re-signified,” the house said in press notes.

AQULINAO AND RIMONDI GIVE RUNWAY PREMIER TO NEW FASHION VENTURE

Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi’s latest fashion venture is focused on youthful women, offering fun and flirty silhouettes exclusively in cotton and optimistically bright in color.

The designers, who spent eight years at Max Mara, followed by two heady years as head stylists at Gianfranco Ferre, launched their own brand Aquilano-Rimondi in 2008. The pair said they are taking a moment to rethink the direction of their main label, known for its heavily detailed and ornate designs at the upper range of luxury, while focusing on SHI.RT, launched last year as a more accessible luxury brand.

The formula of easy-to-wear fashion elements with more affordable sustainable cotton has found success even in the pandemic, selling out in some locations post-lockdown, Aquilano said backstage.

“Unfortunately, I am not religious. But the pope, in this moment, is the only person who is speaking in a logical way. We need to be united to help each other, or this thing will destroy all of us,” Aquilano said backstage.

For this collection, the designers united with suppliers in their home region of Emilia Romagna to come up with the bold clash of prints that they worked up into silhouettes of ruffles, ranging from dramatic to pretty, with embellishments limited to occasional beaded fringe.

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