Women’s Suits Shine at Milan Fashion Week

Milan’s showrooms were packed with terrific tailoring this season, with brands and designers focusing on light constructions (even for winter), statement color and traditional British weaves and patterns such as glen plain check and houndstooth.

Massimo Alba said he wants his women to move easily in his designs, and to emphasize that point he made a black-and-white film showing his wife, children, friends and models grooving around in his clothes.

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The film, which will be broadcast on the designer’s social channels, was based on Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests.

“It’s not really about the clothing itself, but rather who wears the clothing and how they express themselves in it,” said the designer, who prides himself on clothing that’s “loose and relaxed, and unconstructed.”

Massimo Alba RTW Fall 2023

Massimo Alba RTW Fall 2023

Soft baby corduroy suits, one of Alba’s signature fabrics, came in colors such as lime green or azalea pink, while a pair of wide wale corduroy trousers was in an earthier rust tone.

Other tailored pieces made using traditional tailoring fabrics were as light as air. A houndstooth coat was completely unlined, while a herringbone jacket with patch pockets was light enough to roll up and into a suitcase, as was a breezy flannel suit.

Alba served up a host of knitwear, too, including a loose-fitting fisherman knit sweater, and stripey cardigans made from a mohair and silk blend.

At Aspesi, the focus was on saturated, statement color for looks ranging from peacoats to puffers (some of which had elegant, pointy collars) to corduroy suits.

Lawrence Steele, who was named creative director of Aspesi as of the spring 2022 season, said his aim is to create a “wardrobe,” rather than a collection, with a focus on cut and fit.

Steele, who has a long history with Aspesi, added that his job is also to “capture the Italian good life,” and transmit the brand’s aesthetic into all the corners of the world.

Designs included a lineup of boxy wide wale corduroy jackets, and velvet and corduroy suits in a rainbow of saturated crayon colors, such as green, purple, red, orange and magenta.

Aspesi RTW Fall 2023

Aspesi RTW Fall 2023

A white corduroy suit and matching patent leather peacoat had a cool Bianca Jagger vibe, circa 1971 (the year she married Mick), while a pointy shirt collar lent a lavender puffer jacket an air of urban elegance.

As with Alba, there were lots of knits in the mix, too, including a nubby sweater the color of caffèlatte and a fuzzy one in gray. It was an easy statement-making wardrobe.

A cool wardrobe-building aim also defined Giorgia Gabriele’s sophomore collection for her Armarium brand, quietly introduced last September. In sync with her own style, relaxed tailoring and elevated basics oftentimes played along the thin line of masculine and feminine.

Cue an oversize blazer that could be borrowed by the girl from her boyfriend’s or daddy’s closet, reinterpreted as a mini dress with a standup melton collar, a small detail revealing Gabriele’s commitment to craftsmanship. The “hubby” outerwear came also as relax-fit blazers with elongated front panels and the season’s overcoat, strong-shouldered and floor-length, which hit the highest manufacturing notes.

Gabriele embraced the menswear inspiration with gusto, so much so that she added Solaro pantsuits and single-button double-breasted numbers in crisp frescolana.

Armarium RTW Fall 2023

Armarium RTW Fall 2023

A favorite of Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director at Saks, Gabriele is building her fashion venture slowly but steadily and introduced her first bag, “Anna,” a structured top handle frame design inspired by 1940s styles her grandmother would sport.

Slowear served up tailoring, and a wine tasting at the in-store bar, courtesy of the Tuscan winery Podere Sapaio.

Wide wale corduroy jackets in shades like baby blue and olive were paired with cashmere sweaters in cream or rose. There were suits galore done in light-as-air double-face cashmere wool, saffron check and even a tuxedo.

Slowear RTW Fall 2023

Slowear RTW Fall 2023

Womenswear is still a small a part of the Slowear business, but it’s growing quickly, and it’s easy to see why. Like with Alba and Aspesi, these are clothes made for living in.

In a meaningful collaboration focused on the kind of throw-on-a-blazer that city girls could love, textile specialist Vitale Barberis Canonico supported the up-and-coming brand Vi to Vi, established by Maria Vittoria Lazzarini Merloni with a focus on the category.

She scouted her fall fabrics from the Vitale Barberis Canonico collection working windowpane, pinstriped and checkered wools, as well as a cool camouflage textile, into boxy cut workwear-nodding jackets with front pockets, cropped bolero numbers and double-breasted blazers, which looked like make-do-and-mend versions of gentleman gear.

A Vi to Vi jacket for fall 2023 crafted from Vitale Barberis Canonico fabrics.

A Vi to Vi jacket for fall 2023 crafted from Vitale Barberis Canonico fabrics.

Similar menswear patterns also did wonders to Eleventy’s relaxed tailoring offering, done in muted neutrals such as beige and light gray and using lightweight winter fabrics, such as wool, or triple-twisted thick cottons.

The collection — heavy on layering apt for unpredictable weather — featured roomy pinstriped pantsuits and fluid separates with pleated pants and mismatched glen check blazers layered under cocooning, robe-like topcoats crafted from luxurious flannels.

Eleventy RTW Fall 2023

Eleventy RTW Fall 2023

More inventive mixed-media outerwear pieces came with knit sleeves against houndstooth or plain mélange wool, in a field jacket and overcoat, respectively. Here too there were plenty of rib- and cable-knit sweaters that added a leisurely feel.

Former Valextra chief executive officer Sara Ferrero and Susanna Cucco launched the Sa Su Phi collection last year for fall 2022 and it’s already garnering buzz in Milan. Named after their initials and the Greek letter phi, generally used as the mathematical concept of the golden ratio, the collection’s goal is to offer looks that are “simple but daring, and versatile, as well as timeless, adapting to the personality and needs of the wearer.”

This season, the collection did not disappoint as Ferrero and Cucco offered a covetable selection of coats that double as coatdresses, sophisticated bomber jackets, cardigans, shirtdresses and tailored trousers. Delicate slits and belts that define the waist, the hips and the breast have become a brand signature.

Ferrero emphasized the intimate pleasure of feeling the best fabrics on one’s skin, from cashmere, double-faced and blended with silk, to wool and silk duchesse. The color palette was beautiful, from turquoise and blush to peony pink, aqua, peacock and burgundy. As she said, “This is a collection by women for women and we are thinking how to make them look and feel amazing.” Mission accomplished.

Sa Su Phi RTW Fall 2023

Sa Su Phi RTW Fall 2023

Newly appointed creative director Marc Audibet is helping to breathe new life into the Mila Schön brand, backed by new investors that have partnered with owner Itochu, and his architecturally sculpted coats were beautiful and sophisticated.

The lines appeared essential but hid artful cuts and structures. The dresses and capes in double, delicate cashmere, were on trend. Audibet worked with crepe, silk, wool and linen, almost all in a double version — a legacy of the late Schön — in unusual combinations.

While black was the main color, there were also flashes of purple, absinthe green, and coral pink, like in some of the abstract prints inspired by the cuts of Lucio Fontana, of whom Schön was a friend and collector.

“Simplicity comes from a meticulous and precise construction for an aesthetic as distant as possible from extreme consumerism,” said Audibet, aiming for clothes that are made to last.

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