IF Milan Fashion Week this year is an indicator of anything, it’s that we can still have fun.

Italy was one of the hardest-hit regions of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and last year’s Milan Fashion Week sort of predicted the disasters of 2020, with looks nodding at the opulence of periods that saw pride before their fall.

This year the fashion houses of Milan are dusting themselves off, and this time, the looks are a little bit more optimistic.

It’s always fun at a Moschino show, with full-on glamor and a charming insouciance. The same words could be used to describe The Women, George Cukor’s 1939 film about American socialites starring Norma Shearer, Joan Crawford, and Rosalind Russell. Dressed to the nines for the 1930s, the all-female cast exchanged painful barbs: “I’ve gotten you into some of our very best homes,” says one. “Yes, for some of their very best insults,” replied another. Norma Shearer says, “I’ve had two years to grow claws mother. Jungle Red.” It is from this line that Moschino gets the title of its FW2021 collection, Jungle Red. It even directly references The Women.

Moschino’s show is an homage to the Technicolor fashion show scene in the otherwise black-and-white 1939 film, and quotes that scene’s opening lines word for word. Surely we’re in for a spin when Burlesque performer and vintage clothing enthusiast Dita von Teese is in the house. The music has that cheery music indicative of the period they reference, and Art Deco opulence predictably appears on the runway, with pinstripe skirt suits with broad shoulders. There are multiple nods to Surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli here (although her playground was in Paris, with her rival Coco Chanel). There are houndstooth suits printed with numerals, and wide-lapelled suits with zippers (Schiaparelli was one of the first designers to use zippers as closures in couture).

Moschino’s sense of fun comes to the fore with a segment dedicated to the countryside: there’s a darling puffed-sleeve ball gown printed with clouds; the skirt is printed with cows; and a model’s checked mint green suit recalls farming plots, and this one is paired with a windmill hat and cloud-printed shoes. Taking cues from the Great Depression of the 1930s, models are also shown in opulently styled suits and dresses, complete with hats, gloves, and handbags — printed with patterns from sacks (a trick used by poor women then to clothe their children).

In another segment, the ladies are taken to the safari, with such treats such as a golden alligator coat… with a tail, a flamingo floating on a black asymmetrical dress, and other animals like cheetahs and giraffes.

Finally, the film ends with a segment on evening dresses: another nod to Schiaparelli is seen in a handbag shaped like a boot (Schiaperelli made a hat shaped like a shoe), and other surrealist elements are seen: think a black dress studded with little golden bags and shoes, and a black dress studded with pearls in a pattern that forms only the suggestion of a necklace. Finally, Dita von Teese comes out in a red dress with a sweetheart neckline appliqued with little black sequinned sweethearts. She turns her back to reveal a cheeky heart-shaped cutout — that reveals her rear end, which is appropriately the show’s end.

Watch it here: https://www.moschino.com/us_en/fashion-show-fw21

Ferragamo’s presentation has a futuristic slant, themed as it is about space. It takes cues from the 1960s space-race designs of André Courrèges, seen in the use of plastic and lots and lots of white.

Color comes in masculine hues of electric blue and acid lime. The masculinity continues in almost-utilitarian separates made of leather, showing the house’s mastery in the material’s manipulation. Some softness comes out in flowy garments in pink and lilac.

As for accessories, we’re noting a trend towards silver, so glossy they appear to be mirrors (the same trend appears on the Louis Vuitton runway from earlier this year). The collection is mostly sober, save for the last few pieces, where the models are painted in silver and dressed in chainmail.

See stills here: https://www.ferragamo.com/shop/aus/en/sf/winter-2021-looks

Furla’s handbags for this season are easy on the eyes, by design. A link to a website furlaillusions.com/ shows a video of the Portagioia, a patent handbag with ladylike curves. It appears to have a kisslock closure. Meanwhile, it’s presented with calming music, with a backdrop of clouds and butterflies — a symbol of hope for a world locked in. This backdrop is reflected on the bag’s glossy surface and shiny hardware.

See it here: https://furlaillusions.com/

Tod’s plays with proportion and size in their show, featuring for example, a coat one closes by knotting the coat itself, baggy shorts, and oversized hobo bags. There’s also a play on texture with shearling, suedes, and sheer. Dainty little pumps and loafers are given bulky creeper soles, and aggressive pointed-toe, two-tone shoes are given little kitten heels.

See stills here: https://www.tods.com/ww-en/tods-world/woman-fashion-show-fw/looks.html

Prada released a statement in 2019 that it will no longer use real fur in its collections, with the change taking effect for the SS2020 collections. They took it to heart, showing their FW2021 collection in a Rem Koolhaas-designed set of fake fur and marble.

Androgyny is the name of the game for the collection: female models are dressed like long-haired rich surfer dudes told to tone it down for the boardroom. Think pinstripes (certainly a trend) and creeper sole oxfords (take note).

On the other hand, there are multiple faux fur coats and faux fur wraps, shift dresses in a flowy fabric, and, finally, the return of the women’s jumpsuit (a trend that has gone up and down in recent years; but if Prada says they’re in right now; they are). The show ends with fully sequined iridescent coats.

Watch the show and view stills here: www.prada.com/ww/en/pradasphere/fashion-shows/2021/fw-womenswear.html. — Joseph L. Garcia