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La Dolce Vita (Guest Column)

Milan, Oct 5: Fashion Week is one of the most major events of the year for Milan -- the Italian capital of fashion and design and the city crackles with La Dolce Vita.
Fashion week shows in all the Big Four -- London, New York, Milan and Paris -- are not confined to any one venue. So, the fashion glitz brightens life in unusual locations and neighbourhoods, providing numerous unexpected "Oh my God! Moments". This is especially true for Milan.

The city uses its wonderful architecture and strengths to great advantage, enveloping it into its bi-annual celebration of style and infusing it with infectious energy.

For Fashion Week Spring Summer 2020, venues ranged from gardens, parks, warehouses, swimming pools and showrooms to historical architectural buildings and backdrops. The two stand out innovative location choices were Margherita Missoni for M Missoni, who used a Milan tram for showing her collection. The fashion ride saw a new set of models boarding the tram at every stop. The Milan tram is inextricably woven into the city's history and DNA and remains the most used means of transport even today. People going about their business were pleasantly surprised at this unexpected brush with glamour.

As were those who were in the hood for the Marco di Vicenzo show that used the banks of the Navigli Canal as its fashion runway.

But more than any of this what makes the Fashion Week experience in Milan that extra tad special is the Duomo. The towering 350 ft high Cathedral (that took 6 centuries to complete) is an architectural masterpiece and the hub of all that is hip and happening. With the very uber stylish Galleria Emanuele Vittorio II with its luxury brands Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci on the one side and the Corso Emanuele Vittorio with Zara, Diesel, Hiamp;M and Replay on the other, along with The Theatre de Scala and the Brera Art District with its vintage and art stores adjunct, it is a heady cocktail of art, fashion, street and style.

The Piazza del Duomo or the cathedral square was an ever changing fashion canvas with giant LED screens live streaming the shows, pop up promotions, model shoots (Dolce and Gabbana), store displays, music and performances.

The show that garnered maximum eyeballs among other shows at the Fashion Week was Donatella Versace's, with Jennifer Lopez walking in a re imagined version (that dared and bared even more than the original) of the infamous 'Jungle Dress' (because of its dangerously plunging neckline!) that she wore to the Grammy's in 2000. It is said that frenzied search on the Internet for her picture post the 2000 event was a major reason for Google to start Google Images.

Well seems that she and the dress broke the Internet yet again!

Apart from the cuts, controversies, drama, drapes and entertainment, some strong trends and messaging also emerged through the seasons collections. The commitment made at the "G7 Fashion Pact", with the objective of the fashion industry reducing its environmental impact and the dramatic highlighting of the urgency to take climate change seriously by the "Extinction Rebellion" and "Fashion Funeral" demonstrations at London Fashion Week, saw the beginning in practical translations at Milan fashion Week.

Marni -- with clothes and the show set made of used plastic bottles; Jil Sander's use of raffia, macrame, crochet and basket weaving; Stella Jean using fabrics embroidered by women in South Asia to sustain craft and provide income; to Prada using Econyl, a regenerated yarn made from waste material, and Muiuccia Prada advocating "a timeless rather than trend -led" fashion -- it was all about sustainability and slow fashion.

In this "Fashion Trend" of waking up to the need of the hour, it was doubly satisfying to visit Aneeth Arora's Pero Spring Summer 2020 collection. A fresh, young exuberant collection created in collaboration with Paris based children's illustrator Nathalie Lete received well deserved appreciation. Imaginatively styled and impeccably showcased by Milan-based Adele Gandola who represents Pero in Europe.

Organic, handmade, hand embroidered, sustaining communities, upcycling and slow fashion have been Pero's credo from the start 10 years ago long before it became "fashionable".

So, Kudos Aneeth Arora and all you others who have stood firm by your commitment and conviction. It is your turn to smile, for Global Fashion is resetting the pace with sustainable as its theme and you are way ahead in this game.

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La Dolce Vita (Guest Column)

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