Ferragamo show gives the finger in Milan

Joshua MELVIN
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Salvatore Ferragamo's outdoor show, set in a field of sod laid for the occasion, saw models walking the looks on a glass catwalk among bloggers, buyers and fans of the 90-year-old house which won reknown for its shoes

Venerable Italian house Salvatore Ferragamo gave the finger to the gathered Milan fashion week glitterati on Saturday as the backdrop for the label's glitz and glam runway show.

The finger in this case was the notorious massive marble sculpture outside Milan's stock exchange of an outstretched middle digit that has sparked debate in the Italian fashion capital.

But there was no mention by organisers of the artwork looming over the show, which was all bright colours, exotic materials and vertiginous high heels -- not exactly a statement of aggression.

The sculpture, by Italy's most famous living artist, Maurizio Cattelan, is titled L.O.V.E. But it has been criticised as being anti-capitalist due to its location, which the artist denies.

When asked about the collection, creative lead for women's ready-to-wear Fulvio Rigoni stuck to the clothes saying "the idea was of taking different pieces from different VIP clients of Salvatore Ferragamo last century and mixing them up."

The outdoor show, set in a field of sod laid for the occasion and backgrounded by the finger sculpture, saw models walking the looks on a glass catwalk among bloggers, buyers and fans of the 90-year-old house which won renown for its shoes.

The hand-painted python skin, flapper-type dresses bursting with tassels and satin gowns at Ferragamo, were the antithesis of the collection unveiled earlier by minimalist label Jil Sander.

Husband and wife duo Luke and Lucie Meier's first show at the creative helm of the German-founded house sent models down a spare outdoor runway wearing the white, flowing garb of a mystic, offering an antidote to the Milan fashion week flash.

- Rejection of excess -

The designs were an embrace of "purity... we're not interested in excess at all," Canadian Luke Meier told reporters backstage after the show.

"I don't think we do it from the perspective of what is going on (in fashion). We do it from the perspective of what we like and what we feel is right at the moment."

There was also a suggestion of innocence in the designs, with a handbag made to look like a school boy's books wrapped in a leather strap, and suits big enough to look like adult clothes on children playing dress up.

The Meiers, a rare married duo of co-directors, come from Dior for her and Paris-based menswear brand OAMC via iconic streetwear label Supreme for him.

"Lucie and I work together very naturally," Meier told Vogue in June of his Swiss-born wife.

"We have had an open dialogue about the approach to design for over 15 years and have often spoken of working together one day."

- 'All these easy pieces' -

At the other end of the spectrum Italian fashion house Bottega Veneta had Hollywood star Lauren Hutton bobbing her head to hip-hop earlier in the day as it showed off a playful, nightclub-ready collection heavy on jewels, mirrors and fringe.

The venerable Venetian outfit transformed a warren of rooms and halls at the 19th century Palazzo Archinto -- now a school -- into a sprawling runway at Milan fashion week.

The co-ed Spring/Summer 2018 collection featured airy shirt-dresses, fringe strung with tiny glass beads and several slinky floor-length dresses covered in rhinestones.

Kardashian mum Kris Jenner was front and centre, watching her daughter Kendall pass in a geometric-pattern swimsuit and shiny trench coat. Superstar Bella Hadid was on the runway too, after shows for Fendi and Moschino.

Bottega regular Hutton -- who famously sported a red leather Bottega purse when she starred alongside Richard Gere in "American Gigolo" -- sat in the front row tapping her toe and nodding along with the booming sounds of rapper 50 Cent's 2003 smash "In Da Club".

"It's all these easy pieces," Bottega's long-time creative lead Tomas Maier said in his design notes. "Even the long dresses are like T-shirts."

The women's silhouettes were clean and utilitarian, but there was tonnes of embellishment -- with tiny round mirrors, exotic skins like anaconda and metal eyelets of varying sizes.

Designs for the fellas were sporty but sharp, including dapper tapered trousers and pointy shoes. Materials like antique satin, suede and cotton pique ruled the day.

"It makes for a very precise silhouette," Maier's notes said.

Now owned by French conglomerate Kering, which also has Gucci in its stable of luxury brands, Bottega Veneta was founded in 1966 by Michele Taddei and Renzo Zengiaro.