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Ferre's Baroque New Architecture

Godfrey Deeny
September 25th, 2009 @ 00:38 AM - Milan

A key term among fashion folk when witnessing the development of a new designer at a famed house is to work out whether they respect "the codes," i.e., whether the successor to a great designer actually understands, and can re-interpret, the founder's visual DNA.

That's a test that Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi, the joint creative directors of Ferre, passed with aplomb Friday afternoon, Sept. 25, in Milan, with an assured and polished Spring 2010 collection that was in sync with Ferre's tradition of architectural fashion, yet given a suitably new baroque uplift.

Where once Ferre's fashion echoed the Renaissance flourish and neoclassical solidity of Italy, this latest collection evoked contemporary architecture with its glassy, high-tech finishes and more globular shapes.

The key idea in this show was "transformation," as Aquilano and Rimondi twisted and ruched fabrics to suggest the way light slowly alters our perception of any structure over the course of a day. Materials were wrapped and knotted loosely around bodies throughout the collection, yet this pair are such gifted tailors and drapers that the clothes always had a slick, even taut, silhouette.

Throughout the palette was neutral - pale beiges, faded grays or light honeys - the use of bright finishes, gold leaf splashes, hundreds of gemstones and shiny studs meant the clothes glistened, like a baroque altar in a bright June morning. This was a great collection of snazzy cocktail moments.

Aquilano and Rimondi also brought back Signor Ferre's signature accessory, the giant safety pin, which he personally used to wear in ties or on coat lapels. His successors incorporated the pin - now a registered Ferre trademark in Italy - in everything from the heel of some great, mad scientist shoes to micro metal needle belts worn high on the waist. Also making a debut was a natty new bag call the "It-Bag 24/7," a hefty sealed tote with "torchon" handle that was practical, elegant and, one senses, commercially savvy.

Adding to the sense of occasion, the house employed a smart casting of largely unknown models, kitted out with brown lipstick, pale makeup and long, crimped hair. Their very novelty made one think of a glamorous cocktail party in some sci-fi aristocratic court.

So, even if the Ferre business remains mired in the Italian equivalent of bankruptcy protection due to the near-collapse of its parent company Ittierre, this house is certainly not in creative retreat. If anything, it marched smartly on today in Milan.

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