#SuzyMFW: Independence And Imagination Bring Fresh Design To Milan

An exploration of the relationship between masculinity and femininity’ is the way Lucie and Luke Meier interpreted the legacy of Jil Sander. And the duo are making a fine job of it.

Their secret is in sculpture: apparently simple garments that are subtly cut to outline the body. These easy clothes also give the feeling that they are gender neutral, although all were shown on women.

There were even pieces that seemed deliberately to suggest male/female by blending tunics and trousers. But as the models walked gracefully round a bushy centre filled with trees while ethereal music was played by American cellist Kelsey Lu, the word that came to mind was the one chosen by Jil Sander herself: pure.

This collection was powerful but calm with its elongated silhouettes and varied textures. And although the shapes shadowed the body, they did not deliberately touch it.

“We really felt a desire for femininity, womanly, even if there is a lot of masculinity within the fabrics, all the shapes are very feminine,” said Lucy.

Her husband added: “We are searching for a lightness, even if we used things like wools and felt, which are quite stout fabrics. We wanted to keep them off the body, very light.”

This was really the best interpretation of the Sander spirit since Raf Simons was at the helm in 2011. The couple even added practical details, such as flat, boldy sized handbags. But there was also a taste of the romance that Jil brought in after her initial severity melted into serenity.

“We have a lot of birds, in jacquards and in print with different techniques,” said Lucie.

The Meiers added such waterfowl as herons and pipers, as well as swallows, all brushed lightly on the clothes. It was a sweet touch.

Arthur Arbesser: climbing carefully

The set suggested drama – a rock-climbing space with hammered clips serving as the way up to a dizzyingly high roof. But Arthur Arbesser squashed the idea that we were about to see performance art on his runway.

“It is because it is beautiful and graphic and all the kind of things I love,” said Arbesser who, as ever, produced a subtle balance of his Austrian heritage and Italian homeland. In fact, it was his own apartment in Milan that served as his inspiration for the show.

“We are in a really old square in Milan and the architect did this façade in the 1940s, and I thought, let’s do this straight from what is surrounding us while we work and again its graphics,” the designer said. “It’s also obviously Vienna, with loden handmade in the mountains of Tyrol, Tuscan wool that many ladies in the bourgeois neighbourhood of Sant’Ambrogio are actually wearing.

“So I wanted to give it a sort of Milanese-Austrian twist but less highly inspirational from the life of this or that artist – I just put forward what I like and what we surround ourselves with.”

In other words, Arbesser was showering the well-shaped knits, simple pleated skirts and straight trousers that are straightforward except for a kick of Viennese colours that was refreshing. For example, a woolen top was in squares of lilac, leaf green and sunshine yellow, with similar shades but a darker hue for the skirt. Add boots in sky blue that were probably from the Italian spider.

It is good to see Italy’s younger designers growing upwards, even if Arbesser wisely eschewed rock slimming heights.