Against a backdrop of financial uncertainty, there is a playful optimism to some of the runway shows for the spring season, in the form of cartoonish silhouettes, Pop Art colors and prints. It started with Michael Kors' 1950s, full-skirted gingham romp in New York and has now hit Milan at D&G and Moschino.
Los Angeles-based pop star Katy Perry is undoubtedly one inspiration for designers' modern day pinups, and there she was looking perky in the front row at D&G. The collection was an ode to sunny playgrounds such as Cap d'Antibes and Cannes, with striped knit bathing suits, sequin sweaters emblazoned with anchors and pleated shirts in a sailing knot print.
Models walked on red, white and blue platform sandals that laced up the leg, and sported floppy sun hats or knit bathing caps with over-sized round sunglasses. There were also boxy tweed jackets in the spirit of Chanel, high-waist sailor pants, and sweaters in a metallic red, white and blue fisherman's knit that sparkled like fireworks. What a blast.
The fun continued Tuesday morning at Moschino, where British singer Roisin Murphy was the guest of honor, with a teased Rockabilly updo to rival Amy Winehouse's in the pop star hair of fame.
On the runway, models wore the same hairstyle, along with candy-colored silk swing coats and shifts with cartoon-size bows at the neck, and jeweled cat's eye sunglasses.
If it all sounds over-the-top, it wasn't. There were plenty of little black dresses and a lovely evening coat in chiffon whirled into flower buds. A beige satin coatdress with ruffled cap sleeves was nice, too. Exaggerated wedge platforms were cool, as was a handbag that spelled out what should be the season's tagline: "Ideal Dress = No Stress."
Elsewhere on the runway, I was looking forward to seeing what Raf Simons had up his sleeve at Jil Sander, since "simple," "architectural" and "classic" are becoming buzz words for the season. With a Man Ray portrait as a backdrop for the runway, he spun a tale of 1920s elegance and African tribalism-- tunics swinging fringe, shift dresses and coats slit under the arms for subtle plays on color and light, and spectacular jackets in intriguing swing shapes or with free-floating panels or cowl backs.
Shoe heels were inspired by Brancusi sculptures, and earrings -- part of a new jewelry line in collaboration with Italian jeweler Damiani -- resembled spears studded with diamonds.
But the models in the show were unsettling, to say the least. All white automatons with slick ponytails, they looked like an Aryan army. The show was inspired by Africa! Who does he think lives there? And in this era, when the luxury fashion business truly is global, there was no excuse.
-- Booth Moore
Photos top to bottom: Michael Kors' Spring/Summer 2009 collection from Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York earlier this month, D&G, Moschino and Jil Sander all in Milan this week. All photos by Kirk McKoy, Los Angeles Times.