Welcome to the age of the socially distanced fashion show - the world’s first, to be exact. In the gardens of Milan’s Four Seasons Hotel, with the Testori Orchestra playing the works of the recently departed Ennio Morricone, fashion house Etro staged its men’s spring/summer 2021 show in the actual flesh. It would usually have happened in June but 2020 being what it is, that was off the cards. But we're all embracing change, and that wasn’t the only innovation.
For starters, this was a much more civilised affair than your average fashion bunfight. There was no scrum at the door. Jostling for position on a bench heaving with influencers and journalists was out.
That was in part due to the hugely reduced numbers present, with only 100 guests to the usual several hundred. Seats were socially distanced, masked staff took temperatures at the door and face masks were ordered as mandatory, but as Italy relaxes its rules on them, many chose to go mask-free - particularly as this was a breakfast presentation. In other happy news, Covid-19 has marked the end of the air kiss.
Some things never change though, and in our drastically altered world, it was strange - almost quaint - to see influencers in head-to-toe Etro prints posturing for the cameras. But then, everyone still has to make a living.
As for the clothes themselves, in an era of digital presentations when fashion houses try to get us excited about a link to a lookbook sent via email, it was refreshing to experience the things that you can’t pick up from watching along on your smartphone.
These are the very elements that Etro has always been so adept at. For example, the glistening raised jacquard on a suit, with flora and fauna picked out in detail, or the fluttering movement of a ruffled prairie dress - the show added some women’s resort 2021 pieces into the mix. Why not, when rules are out of the window anyway?
“We are finally back together,” said Kean Etro, creative director of the family business, now run by founder Gimmo Etro’s four children. “We want to highlight that Etro is a family living in a world of joie de vivre, colour and positivity.”
A merry blast of rainbow colour lifted the spirits with fuchsia linen jackets, tangerine shirts and a range of multicoloured jeans. Etro employed the motifs of Navajo culture once more in laser-cut patterns on leather jackets and weaving on loose, shawl-collared cardigans.
An English sartorial influence upon the Italian house was also visible in the fawn-toned Prince of Wales checks and fat stripes of a navy-and-black suit.
But in a sense, it was less about the minutiae of the clothes (although it was heartening to see detail up close again) and more about sending a message, as underlined by the Camera Della Moda governing body that rules Milan fashion, that Italian craft and artisanal excellence must be kept alive. And that is best done in person.
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