Milano Unica: Winter 2019/20

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New Avenues and Opulent Designs

Playing on an exaggerated style that made the old seem new again, Milano Unica for Winter 2019/20 offered opulent designs allied with a strong focus on sustainability. Janet Prescott reports 

Milano Unica for Winter 2019/2020 played on a certain exaggeration of style; colour, surface and thickness which makes old seem new, and traditional seem ground-breaking.  It was allied to a strong focus on sustainability, which is the particular focus of Italian industry and initiatives.

Sustainability was the theme of the opening symposium and panel discussion of Milano Unica, and it was obvious that this was a focus of most companies especially the Idea Biella luxury suitings area, many having a well-defined, vertical production from fibre to fabric. The green imperative was expressed by MU President Ercole Botto Poala when he opened the exhibition with the question Is our Future Sustainable? Increasingly so, was the answer most people arrived at.

The fashion fabric offer

The fashion fabric offer was comprehensive. Colours were deep and rich; reds, browns, golds were a frequent choice against grey and darks; classic suitings having embraced bright blue, have retained the colour, but in a more toned, elegant colour, still bright but eschewing cobalt.   Fabrics were also cosy and tactile with brushed surfaces. Designs, whether in weave or in prints, sported bright elements comprised of unusual combinations of tones and frequently large-scale oversize decoration, whether checks, slubs or shadow designs. This decoration is due in part to a revival of the large-scale canvas, such as the long great coat and the continuing popularity of the tailored jacket for men, who are wearing it in different, more casual ways.

An on-going fascination with provenance

Interest in provenance or origins, is allowing a great deal more scope for using interesting wool like coarser British breeds such as Wensleydales in a variety of undyed shades, or the curly fleece of the ancient breed Escorial from New Zealand and Australia, in fabrics by Yorkshire mills Wm Halstead and John Foster.

The fascination of items with a history continues, so that woollen country tweeds, worsted classic pinstripe suits and soft, classy fabrics like flannels and sophisticated twists come to the fore. Many of these favourites were very colourful; the understated classic worsted Merino suitings of Italian and British classic mills had small areas of bright yarn or shadowy patterns introduced, making them look new and interesting. Herringbones were writ large, houndstooths were boldly contrasted, black on grey for instance, and overcoatings were brushed and patterns blurred.

Trends: decoration and digital printing

Opulent, rather theatrical looks, including metallic effects were displayed in the MU trend area mixing up fabrics and different traditions. Gold decoration and embellishment in satin and silks were placed alongside slubby, thick woollens and worsteds and bouclé fabrics for womenswear, including examples from Japanese mills.

Printing moves things on: winter shirtings included printed wool jersey. Digitally printed wool jacketings, e.g. Prince of Wales check designs, might be worn with jeans, as garments find a new role with another generation.

Demand for wool remains strong

Despite the price of wool moving up, exhibitors reported that the demand for wool remained very strong, pointing out that other raw materials were also increasing, some at an erratic rate. Most reported negotiating to spread the impact of price rises between different stages of garment production. The advent of technical wool has made a big impact. Reda Active and Zegna’s technical lines have raised the fibre’s profile further in this area.   The intrinsic value and added performance quality of wool is promoted in various ways across the board with various qualities of thermo-regulation, crease resistance, breathability, and waterproofing for use in the travel suit.   

This year the trend for bigger, longer coats and interesting semi-formal jackets is serviced by more heavy weight cloths, double-face, multiple-ply wool, bonded fabrics, and unlined versions in substantial hairy and coarser fabrics opening new areas.

Pictured: Top, right: Trend and fancy looks; Middle, left: Fox Brothers English flanner; Bottom, right: Net meets bouclé; Main, Abraham Moon bold patterns






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