It fell to two multimillionaire, permatanned, denim and navy clad designers to lower the curtain on Milan fashion week on Monday.
Giorgio Armani, the godfather of Italian fashion, and Roberto Cavalli, who was celebrating his label’s 40th anniversary, presented collections that celebrated their own brands of Milanese style.
Armani presented a show entitled “La Femme Bleue”, claimed to have been inspired by the Tuareg – the nomadic people of the Sahara, often referred to as the “blue men of the desert” because their robes are dyed indigo.
Consequently, models wearing tunics over tapered trousers, tailored jackets, turbans and chiffon navy robes dominated the show. This modest look never deviated from its dark blue palette.
To hammer home his Tuareg inspiration, Armani sent a barefoot male model wearing a blue chiffon robe to escort his last model down the catwalk.
It wasn’t exactly subtle, but it was one of Armani’s more successful shows.
The collection included layers of transparent fabric, crystal-embellished evening gowns and tapered trousers, which were all meticulously tailored.
The midnight and crystal silk dresses, minus the Sahara-ready silk turbans, are sure to find favour on the red carpet.
Meanwhile, the expertly cut leather or satin jackets – an Armani speciality – may not change the course of fashion but they will certainly keep the international cash tills ringing. A fact Mr Armani is presumably only too aware of: his brand is now so successful that he was reportedly able to splash out £124m on his own private Greek island recently.
Earlier in the day Cavalli – who recently referred to himself without irony as a “fashion artist” – had erected a tented greenhouse, complete with triffid-like plants and a faux-suede covered catwalk, under Napoleon’s Arco della Pace in central Milan. It was a show that celebrated Cavalli’s interpretation of style, which can be summed up simply as “unrelenting excess”.
Many of the outfits were barebacked, but the real sex appeal came in the intricate workmanship.
The entire collection could be broken down roughly into two looks: shredded suede waistcoats and flares with lacing up the side; and floor-length, reptile-printed chiffon gowns with heavy suede fringing.
There was real snakeskin — a Cavalli favorite — in the collection, especially for the fringed shoulder bags, but the novelty came in the intricate embroidery that matched tiny silk leaves with pearls, sequins and fringes to create a snakeskin pattern.
This was not a collection that will translate well from Italian and is unlikely to leak on to the British high street next summer.
But the label is worth an estimated £160m and has survived four decades in the most capricious of industries, which suggests that Cavalli’s high-voltage fringing and his dedication to animal prints do still sate those with a gluttonous appetite for glamour.