New generation of designers take Milan centre stage
Facchinetti, Puglisi among those to conquer spotlight25 February, 18:22
And as the youngest premier and government in Italian history were sworn in on Saturday in Rome, a new generation of leading Italian designers over the past few days have shifted the focus on something fresh fashion has to offer, a new slant on the way women can dress.
Milan shows, long accused of concentrating too much on designers who have been at the forefront of fashion for decades, this time gave plenty of big-league space to upcoming talents under the new direction of Jane Reeve.
Reeve was recently appointed chief executive of Italian fashion's governing body, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana.
And the 30- and 40-somethings Alessandra Facchinetti for Tod's, Fausto Puglisi, Andrea Incontri, Marco de Vincenzo, Gabriele Colangelo, Stella Jean, Aquilano.Rimondi, alongside Alessandro Dell'Acqua with his label N21 and Francesco Scognamiglio, showed Italy's fashion future is in the making. After spells at Gucci, Valentino and Pinko, Alessandra Facchinetti designed her second ready-to-wear collection for Diego Della Valle's Tod's, showing she can be as insightful a fashion spokesperson for her generation as Stella McCartney or Phoebe Philo at Céline.
With streamlined, superbly elegant yet woman-friendly clothes, Facchinetti designed bold, sculptural silhouettes balanced by the depth of motifs and fabrics - in particular leather, which played a key role in the collection.
Striking looks included a crinkly, black patent-leather peacoat and a creamy cape coat with leather cut as thin as paper, striking the perfect balance between rigour and elegance.
Windowpane checks and lozenge patterns were offset by bold colours in a palette embracing purple and light blue.
Rounding up the collection were statement accessories including a must - flats ranging from ballerinas to moccasins, a trademark of the label.
Stepping into womenswear with growing ease, Andrea Incontri gave edge and an on-the-go appeal to his ladylike dresses and coats with a Formula 1 theme for next fall.
His clothes had both a soft seductive appeal with knit dresses and skirts as well as an aggressive touch with statement zippers and glossed-up fabrics partly covered in plastic coating.
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana are so taken by the designer they are showcasing his collection in one of their stores with space dedicated to upcoming talents.
Meanwhile French luxury groups, which have been tightening their grip on Italian labels, are watching this new generation of designers closely.
Fausto Puglisi, who hit the Milan shows only for the second time this past week, is now the creative director of French fashion house Ungaro.
Alessandro Dell'Acqua, who is winning over a growing number of women with his sophisticated, artsy N21 line, will be presenting his first collection for Rochas in Paris on Wednesday after replacing Marco Zanini as creative director last September.
French luxury group LVMH on Monday announced it was buying a minority stake in the fashion brand of Marco de Vincenzo, 36, known for his bold and innovative designs.
De Vincenzo has been showing his ready-to-wear label in Milan since 2009, after winning Vogue Italia's "Who is on next" talent competition.
Fashion duo Aquilano.Rimondi design their own line as well as collections for Italian iconic fashion house Gianfranco Ferrè and the ready-to-wear line of Fay.
Gabriele Colangelo, former creative director at Genny, and Stella Jean are the two Italians who will be competing in the semi-finals of the first edition of the LVMH prize for young fashion designers, promoted by Delphine Arnault.
Jean, whose Milanese launchpad last season was the prestigious Giorgio Armani theatre, has caught the attention of the international fashion crowd with her unique mix of African wax prints and Western staples including colourful tweeds and natty Oxford shirts.
Massimo Giorgetti's MSGM first hit the spotlight in 2008 with its clashing prints and cult reinterpretation of the Chanel jacket.
Next fall, the label will be stretching its style to new heights with Giorgetti's sapient mix of clashing prints and more polished looks. The Au jour le jour brand started four years ago by Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez with its funky cartoon-like prints also debuted at the Armani theatre while the Italian designer loved by Madonna and Lady Gaga, Francesco Scognamiglio, is planning to present a couture line in Paris.
Last but not least, Massimiliano Giornetti and Gaia Trussardi - at the helm of two of Italy's preeminent houses, Ferragamo and Trussardi respectively - are exploring the many notes of luxury to test new ground.