There’s definitely something in the air in Milan as the last Fashion Week demonstrated it. Milan is bubbling: the universal exhibition, the recent arrival of Carlo Capasa at the Italian Chamber of Fashion, the appointments of Alessandro Michele at Gucci’s or Massimo Giorgetti at Pucci’s. Italy has also a new Prime Minister – Matteo Renzi- since 2014, after years of scandals with Silvio Berlusconi. Two words: “eccentric maximalism”. Runways have embraced elaborate prints, extravagant embellishments, unexpected combinations of textures and colours.
We can shortly define the minimalist trend as the simplification of a shape, a strong tendency in the nineties where some designers were reacting against the excesses of the eighties. Does it mean that the eighties are back? After “Less is more”, is it time for “More is More”?
Italian fashion is renowned for the quality of its techniques and materials. This season, many Italian designers have explored a new definition of “Made in Italy”. They have broken the rules and played with complex patterns, textures and details. Despite their different signature styles and histories, a general trend has emerged from Italian catwalks, as WGSN or established fashion magazines such as Vogue spotted it in their last analyses. It’s not brand new. Nothing is new in fashion but it has been escalating for some years, in Milan and other fashion capitals. Even Phoebe Philo, the goddess of minimal chic, has proposed graffiti prints and pieces inspired by Brassaï in her Spring/Summer 2014 collection for Céline.
Pictures 1 & 2: Brassaï & Parisian street art inspired collection, SS2014 Céline.
Texture & 3D effects
Texture plays an important role. Designers have experimented with three-dimensional effects. Silhouettes attract attention with handcrafted techniques and embroideries. This quirky design can be created by using sequins and over-sized sequins, lace, feathers, fringed and looped surfaces, pleated effect, beading.
Pictures 3,4,5: Pucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana fashion shows. Pictures 6,7,8: details of textures.
Over-sized sequins & sequins
Pictures 9,10,11: Marni, Prada, Au Jour le Jou.
Pictures 12,13,14: Pucci, Lanvin, Loewe.
Jacquard & shiny fabrics
Baroque fabrics (shiny jacquard) with sophisticated patterns inspired by interior decoration will complete this maximalist aesthetic. Fabrics can also be highlighted with silver and gold metallics.
Pictures 15,16,17: Dries Van Noten, Marco de Vicenzo, Gucci. Pictures 18, 19: Rochas,Prada.
Sheer overlay and transparencies are also a big part of these showy silhouettes. They are not treated in a “romantic” way but bring an edgy element to outfits.
Pictures 20, 21, 22: Pucci, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana.
Pictures 23 & 24: Stella McCartney, SACAI.
Original combinations of colours have been seen on the SS16 catwalks. Prada is well known for its “ugly chic” approach so you won’t be surprised. The pictures speak for themselves:) Brands have mostly adopted bright colours (yellow, green, red, pink) accentuated with a gold or silver touch.
The “more is more” attitude implies massive accessories (XL earrings/glasses/jewellery) to finish this theatrical looks.
Pictures 25, 26, 27: Loewe, Gucci, Prada.
In terms of democratisation, how this trend might evolve? We know that high streets brands are directly inspired by catwalks. Minimalism is easy to copy for them. How will they respond to this appealing aesthetic? Nowadays, only a few luxury brands have the resources to employ embroiders. Embellishments are pricey. Will this trend trickle down? Is it gonna be easily wearable every day? I doubt that the “average” consumer will wear these eccentric pieces from head to toes. “Eccentric Maximalism” is more about details. Picking one statement piece rather than wearing the complete look. It perfectly fits with the today's zeitgeist where Instagram plays a strategic role in brands communications. This style stands out and grab the attention more than minimalist collections that’s why it might have a strong resonance for the next seasons.
(2) Title inspired by an article from Vogue US. Okwodu, Janelle, On the runway, Sunglasses Go Big or Go Home(Vogue US, 2015).
(3) Concept developed by MSGN in its last SS16 analysis.