Altaroma draws to a close. It has been a busy week of fashion, packed with runway shows and events, drawing fully on the languages of art, artisanship and all-round creativity. There are those for example who prefer to describe their collections as art couture rather than haute couture. Because they are artists through to their core. Gianni Molaro is a fashion designer, but he is also a sculptor and painter. One who lives, eats and breathes images, producing them without rest. Assembled products to be shown on the catwalk: eccentric, excessive, theatrical, surreal, pop, kitsch, dada or futuristic - his mix of clothes and items rise to the heights of operas, turning their strangeness into a virtue. Importable, with pride.
At Altaroma, Molaro showcases a totally topical concept-collection. Clothes that confront the crisis and bring it down a peg. There is the outfit for the Love Crisis, with its enormous broken heart, ruby red with silver edges, like a bodice. There is one for the Mystic Crisis, a triumph of sky blue and gold, the longest of trains, clouds, feathers and a Duchamp-style halo-wheel crowning the angelic damsel. The Economic Crisis frames the face in financial quotes with a collar in the shape of a Euro-flag, through to the Crying Crisis, with take-anywhere umbrellas, like a bright skirt that offers shelter from glittering floods of tears.
On a much more sober, measured and decidedly practical note, the new line by Suzanne Susceptible draws on inspiration gleaned from a visit to the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Works of art, memorable paintings and above all, a canvas by Marc Chagall, The Green Violinist. The designer’s imagination then hits the ground running as she creates her models. The result is experimentation that brings colours, shapes and ideas borrowed from the early twentieth century painting right up to date. Sharp volumes, solid structures and cubist cuts. Simplicity and severity, but given the light treatment. Rounded necklines, squared short sleeves, soft jackets, pencil skirts that skim the knee, or long and high-waisted, or even short and formal all dance to the same tune: wedge-shaped inserts in grass green, rust, salmon, pale grey, white and tiny jacquard, geometric or floral patterns.
Meanwhile veteran Raffaella Curiel falls in love with Botticelli and focuses on classics with an ode to pure, ethereal, sweet feminine beauty. Ignoring the obvious Venus, the muse here is Simonetta Vespucci portrayed by this fifteenth-century genius. Curiel’s female is a kind of Mother Nature, an opulent floral noblewoman who never, however, exaggerates. Voile, chiffon, lace, inlay work and formal drapes in a collection of suits, mermaid or tunic dresses that move from monochrome white or powder through to the gloriousness of gold, forest green, peony red, field flowers and sky blue.
To close, Sarli. Who for the S/S 2012 collection designed by Carlo Alberto Terranova turns not to the visual arts but to traditional artisanship. Caltagirone is the selected muse, this reign of colourful pottery with a Mediterranean feel. Clothes with timeless appeal, femininity to the nth degree and a palette stolen from Sicilian landscapes in the colours of the sun and earth: yellow, orange, bronze, brown and white, with pops of turquoise and sapphire blue. The top-level tailoring of Sarli Couture plays with rounded yet formal shapes, sinuous yet well-sculpted, simulating an objective accuracy that recalls the silhouettes of vases and terracotta pottery. Precious stones and the tiniest of ornamental details peep out from layered leaves or frills, elliptical geometrics, decisive bold lines and circular moulded movement. Turning these clothes into sculptures. Easy to wear, or contemplate.