Milan Fashion Week’s second virtual showing has wrapped. While most of it took place on screen, there was still plenty glean from the week in what next fall will look like. Similar to New York’s designers, Milan’s showed a desire for glamour and getting dressed up again. But the Italians infused it with a bit of sport and high-tech accents, such as Dolce & Gabbana’s ’90’s-inspired pieces, created with the help of robots, Etro’s swap of the ethereal for the more athletic, or Salvatore Ferragamo’s sci-fi bent. Throughout the shows, heels proved that fall ’21 will be way more dressed up than 2020 ever was.
Herewith, 7 of the best fashion and footwear trends from Milan Fashion Week that are destined to shape the coming season.
1. Platform loafers
There is something inherently Italian — or perhaps, more specifically, Milanese — about a platform loafer, the undisputed shoe silhouette of Milan’s fall ’21 season. Bookish but slightly sexy, retro but modern, with a color palette that suggests the city’s architecture. It’s the shoe you would see something wearing while attending the Salone de Mobile, or perusing the city’s arts and antiques galleries, in quest of a Gio Ponti or Bertoia. The best version, the one that embodied all of the above, came from none other than mid-century Italian heritage brand Tod’s, in a cerulean blue with a matching powdery stacked wooden heel. Elsewhere, AGL also did a powder blue take on the shoe with a stacked black rubber sole and piercing hardware detail. Giuseppe Zanotti did a version in hot pink leather with a layered platform heel, while Bally kept things neutral and bookish, styling them with elegant cable-knit socks.
2. Sleek, dark boots
If there is one footwear trend takeaway from the fall ’21 season (and if New York Fashion Week didn’t convince you), it’s that the sleek, dark leather boot, in black or brown, knee-length or thigh-length is the item to own. Sumptuous versions were shown at Fendi, where Kim Brown started his ready-to-wear tenure with chic basics on which to build his footwear and accessories footprint going forward with the brand. Etro, too, laid a footwear foundation in sleek leather boots, theirs black and thigh-high. While most of season’s boots had a much-desired stacked heel, Giuseppe Zanotti put a twist on his, adding a chunky sneaker-style rubber sole to slick thigh-highs.
3. Purple reign
It was back in 2018 that purple — namely, “Ultra Violet” — was deemed Pantone’s color of the year. Since then, shades of purple have continued to trickle in, in a wide palette of lavenders and more saturated versions of the royal color are always around in any given fashion week. At Salvatore Ferragamo, a draped lilac dress was paired with the brand’s retro-futuristic sneaker boots, while gothic purple accented fringe at Etro, and Prada’s colorful, surrealist palette included a pair of grape-hued platform boots.
4. A new kind of combat boot
The combat boot and all of its iterations have unquestionably dominated the women’s market of “real footwear” (i.e. not slippers or “ugly” sandals) over the past year. The boot silhouette, whose chunky lug sole is at the heart of the look, is not going anywhere, but it’s getting a softer look for fall ’21, with ivory hues and more interpretations of that chunky sole. At Valentino, which showed black combat boots with its signature glamorous frocks, the signature dark style was still present but the most compelling version came in a cream-colored, croc-embossed leather (extra padding on the quilted-style pattern) that hit just below the knee and was unexpectedly feminine. AGL did a cream and blush-pink version that was smooth but still rugged, while Giuseppe Zanotti stayed true to his rock-and-roll
It’s no secret that the pandemic caused the handbag market to crash. With so few opportunities to go out, and so many other preoccupations involving one’s hands, it’s no wonder that no one wants to carry a real handbag (aside from Cardi B). Gloves have become a de facto pandemic accessory, and Milan’s designers took notice. At Prada, colorful leather gloves were accented with novelty zipper pouches similar to those that were place on boots in previous season collections. At Dolce & Gabbana, there were just another robot-generated accent on the high-tech-but-retro collection, while Moschino’s opera gloves were just plain retro — but just as fun.
A side effect of everyone dreaming of the future is that it has sometimes ended up looking very sci-fi. That’s perhaps thanks to the mixture of real-life dystopia and the equally real need for fantasy right now. At Salvatore Ferragamo, creative director Paul Andrew referenced films like “Gattaca” and “The Matrix,” while Dolce & Gabbana’s aforementioned humanoid robots helped to actually create the collection. At Iceberg, meanwhile, a “Knitwear Utopia” capsule collection was meant to imagine a world of just that while even its art direction explored the stillness between utopia and reality.
7. A brand new bag
Handbags may feel inconsequential now, but designers are stealthily prepping for their return — and everyone had a different interpretation. Moschino had its usual cheekiness in a pink satin coin purse bag, whose entire look actually featured the coin purse motif (and whose original inspiration for the whole look was Marilyn Monroe). Prada brought back the oversized clutch, in a variety of wild knit print. On closer inspection, the bags were shown to have handles — an easier re-entry into handbag land. Meanwhile, Tod’s did an oversized shoulder bag in shearling with a matching floppy hat that looks cozy enough for right now.