In recent years, no fashion moment has caused quite as much excitement as when actors Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson stormed Valentino’s autumn/winter 2015/16 show as their male model alter egos, Derek Zoolander and Hansel.
Stiller wore a midnight-blue printed satin suit while Wilson was dressed in a pale-blue printed pyjama-style two-piece; both topped off their looks with overcoats casually slung over their shoulders. Although the stunt was designed to publicise the Zoolander sequel, which will reach screens in 2016, the pair summed up the theme that’s pervaded this season’s collections: fun.
Italy’s luxury labels tend to be sartorially serious but at the moment designers are eschewing winter wardrobes full of dark colours and uptight accessories, and seem to have found their funny bones. Valentino’s creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri set the tone in an interview with Dazed & Confused magazine: ‘Fashion can be very serious but it can also be fun too!’
One label that has always had its tongue firmly in its cheek is Moschino, and many of its previous collections have taken cues from playful cultural icons, from Barbie – the original blonde bombshell with a penchant for pink – to the plush teddy bear that now forms the packaging for its Toy fragrance. This season, it is the turn of Looney Tunes cartoons to take centre stage, with Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and friends emblazoned on jumper dresses, oversized baseball shirts and 1990s-inspired sporty separates.
The label’s founder Franco Moschino was known for featuring Popeye and Olive Oyl and the current creative director, Jeremy Scott, is carrying on the tradition of using cartoon characters. ‘I thought it would be fun to continue with the whole element that is very traditionally Moschino, which is cartoons,’ he told Marie Claire UK. ‘I’ve tried to bring some other characters into the vernacular of Moschino. This season, I took Looney Tunes, because I love how each one has such a different personality and everyone identifies with one character or another.’ Choose a Bugs Bunny belt, a Tweety Pie-adorned baseball cap or a charm belt showcasing the whole gang to lighten up sombre winter wardrobes with a touch of comedy and colour.
Versace’s playful touches are less overt this season, with the label opting for colour-blocking outfits and extreme accessories. Thigh-high suede platform boots in punchy tomato red and lemon yellow are offered alongside oversized sunglasses that blend a geek-chic square frame with cat’s eye curves. However, Versace’s standout piece this season certainly cuts a cartoonish dash – an emerald green faux fur coat with wide lapels that stops just above the knee. Sesame Street meets couture, if you will.
Dolce & Gabbana is also incorporating faux fur and texture into its autumn/winter collection, applying it to oversized ivy-coloured tote bags to great effect. At Milan Fashion Week, the label also presented a series of delightful shift dresses embroidered with childlike representations of houses, flowers, trees and cats, as if they were blank canvases on which children have drawn. The designers are typically purveyors of perfect polish so this diversion, championing designs that are sweet and innocent and reveling in imperfection, is a joy.
Continuing this season’s faux fur trend, Milan-based label MSGM, founded by designer Massimo Giorgetti, presented a range of textured options in exuberant colours. The patchwork fluffy jacket with patches of pink faux fur, in a variety of shades and lengths and juxtaposed with splashes of black and white, was a collection highlight. Giorgetti also offered jumper dresses, tops and miniskirts adorned with oversized multicoloured leaves, along with minidresses featuring tapestry, evoking childhood scribbles, in a palette of pink, teal, black and white.
Another token of childhood, the Rubik’s Cube, was transported into the fashion world as it provided inspiration for a 1960s-inflected minidress and matching coat by Au Jour Le Jour. The cubist-style dress was designed to banish winter blues with its graphic print and enticing colour palette. Other eye-catching items from the label’s autumn/winter 2015/16 collection include record-shaped bags and coats, jumpers and skirts emblazoned with scenes of dancing crowds in colour-pop shades.
Adding an accessory is an easy way to embrace this trend, and Marni’s disc-shaped earrings in Perspex make a statement despite being offered in muted tones of white, cream and chocolate brown.
Above all, this season’s collections prove that, although the weather may be dull, your wardrobe doesn’t have to be. Italy’s leading fashion brands prove that the best way to make it through to spring is to embrace humorous, playful outfits and standout accessories that are sure to make you smile on even the darkest days.