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Fall 2009: Rare Escapist Fare from Etro and Moschino

January 19, 2009 |  6:23 pm


Most designers showing at fashion week in Milan have bent over backward to show they're in touch with the reality of dwindling disposable income, and their collections have all been linked by their efforts to evoke, nostalgia, comfort, familiarity and connectedness. It makes for good PR and OK copy, but how much fun is the party when everyone's behaving themselves?

There's a place in the world for escapist fare &mdash books, movies, and yes, clothing — that takes our mind off the bleached bones of our 401(k) fund and the fact that our houses are more valuable as raw lumber

and copper wiring, and I was reminded of that this afternoon at a pair of back-to-back shows by Etro and Moschino.
Etro_mcff09_502 Kean Etro, the affable clown prince of Milano Moda Uomo, labeled his show "In Vino Veritas" and showed scarves, shoes, jackets and suits in shades of deep red wine — Merlot, Barolo and Brunello. But there was also a crazy quilt of pattern — stripes, paisleys, polka dot upon polka dot, and geometric shapes that seemed at once Art Deco inspired and reminiscent of the Native American influences that seemed to crop up time and again this week.

Closing the show, Kean led his models in a joyous kerfuffle to the top of the stage wearing a pointed knit cap. He signed off in his show notes as "HarleKean" — a play on 'harlequin" — but framed by a wall of nearly 600 wine bottles and the three gigantic wheels of Parmesan, piles of grapes and Etro-labeled bottles of red wine served up to guests, he reminded me more of Bacchus, the god of agriculture, wine and frenzy, whose followers would ritually consume him, allowing him to spring back even stronger.

Moschino used a Magrittian formula that started with show invitations that included peel-and-stick handlebar mustaches and the words "feel surreal." That should have been a hint of things to come: Moschino_mcff09_034 Magritte-inspired bowlers and trompe l'oeil details like photo-print shirts and vests (an upscale take on the standard issue tuxedo-print T-shirt circa 1989) complete with printed boutonniere, and jacket and pocket trim in the same print as neckties, creating the illusion of one continuous piece of fabric looping in and out of pockets.

Enamel pins in the shape of clouds and Magritte's classic pipe shape were also sprinkled throughout the collection, and the words "feel surreal" were printed on some shirts.

There were also lots of military details, including epaulets in necktie fabrics and a brown Army-style rain poncho that looked wholly out of place on the runway — but could have been helpful in the cold Milanese downpour outside, where we found ourselves as soon as the bit players in our runway retreat from reality took their final bow.

— Adam Tschorn

Moschino_mcff09_4932_2Photos from top: Kean Etro (in cap) and models at the top of the runway, a model in Etro's wildy colorful mashup of prints, colors and fabrics, a model at Moschino wearing a sweater with woven trompe l'oeil detail, and a bowler-wearing model wearing a vest that has been photo-printed with pinstripes and a boutonniere. Photographs by Peter Stigter.

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