What the Critics Said About Milan Fashion Week, and What They Really Meant

caveman Photo: imaxtree

Here's what you probably understand about the Milan collections so far: Prada's black lace was fabulous, Jil Sander showed some really fierce coats, and the Gucci collection was "bohemian." Now, we'd say the Gucci line was more caveman chic than anything else, but we suppose that's why we don't write fashion reviews for the big papers. But sometimes isn't "caveman chic" just the simple, fun way to sum up some high-minded reviewer's purple prose? We certainly think so. And there's more where that came from in the Milan fall '08 edition of "What They Said … What They Meant," wherein we translate the florid critiques by the top fashion critics.

Cathy Horyn on Jil Sander for the New York Times:

This may be the Milan season in which great significance is put on a pleat. The shift or sack dress seems a dominant trend (at Burberry, Alberta Ferretti, Ferre), at least on the first full day of the Milan shows. Dresses and full skirts have inverted or tacked-down pleats, all carefully placed but oh-so tedious–and not helped by the doll-like vague models lurching on high shiny heels.

What it means: Dresses look like they have fish gills, and they'd look much better if we could get a human to walk in them, someone who looks like she actually eats and has the strength to lift her legs in tall chunky shoes.

Suzy Menkes on Gucci for the International Herald Tribune:

The designer Frida Giannini had taken her decorative ideas — tapestry patterns, cross-stitch decoration, gilt studs and fringing — all the way back to Bohemia. Her collection of skinny hip pants, fancied up with metallic extras, were worn with snug jackets, where embedded in the thick fur you could find elements of Toy Town army uniforms or the kind of embroidery that gypsy Romas might have stitched around the campfire.

What it means: Check out your nutcracker doll — its jacket looks like the lining of Gucci's fur coats.

Robin Givhan on Giorgio Armani for the Washington Post:

Creativity demands that one take leaps of faith, but Armani seems to lurch, while insisting that he has found the way to a bold new sensibility. Perhaps Armani's long-range vision is sharper than most. Perhaps he sees something on the horizon that others cannot: a world in which harem trousers are the new low-rise jeans, perhaps?

What it means: Armani needs to stop acting like he knows so damn much and start designing clothes that people actually can and want to wear.

Carolyn Asome on Pringle of Scotland for the Times:

There’s no irony lost that Pringle, a name Scottish to its very core, also shows in Milan. Happily, there was not a stitch of tartan in sight. In another role reversal, Clare Waight Keller, the creative design director, showed gorgeous cashmere coats, some duffle-shaped, some funnel-necked, and all illustrating the best that the “Made in Italy” label can offer.

What it means: Thank God, after the plaid-happy Dolce & Gabbana show, Pringle didn't show any plaid but rather sweet, sweet cashmere. And God bless Italy.

Hadley Freeman on Ferragamo for the Guardian:

Lady Thatcher is unlikely to wear any of it and some might see this as, frankly, a bit of a shame. Today the former prime minister's favourite fashion label, Salvatore Ferragamo, showed its first collection under the new creative director, Cristina Oritz. It's hard to imagine that the lady will be for turning towards satin jumpsuits, white minidresses trimmed with silver discs or halterneck one-pieces trimmed with white fur.

What it means: Ferragamo showed a look for those very special Euro types who love hair gel, long thin cigarettes, and Vegas.

Hilary Alexander on Cavalli for the Telegraph:

Broderie anglaise frocks with ribbon details, continued the demure parade, before giving way to a South American, ethnic inspiration which included Inca-style knits in the traditional tan, white, grey and black, embroidered vests and full, peasant skirts, in black, trimmed with multi-coloured embroideries, which referenced those worn by the Inca peasant women in Cusco, Peru. For evening, the folkloric details were richly beaded in multi-colours on dense, foliage prints.

What it means: Cavalli surprises! Instead of the expected crystal-studded animal-print booby gowns, he showed conservative, South American–countryside–inspired frocks with most boobs nicely tucked beneath fabric.

Sarah Mower on Bottega Veneta for Style.com:

The fact that a grateful gasp of pleasure can pass through a room at the sight of an amazingly cut peacoat, the collar chicly turned up, over a pair of gray flannel pants says something significant about the state of fashion right now.

What it means: Everyone who audibly gasped really just needs to get laid.