Tracking all the standouts from this season’s top collections.
Milan is the city of elegance, where sumptuous materials and pristine tailoring are front and center. And for the spring 2021 season, city’s designers showed ample amounts of both. See the five best looks from each collection.
Prada’s spring 2021 show—the first co-designed by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons—was to have been the main event of Milan Fashion Week. The designers opted to film the show without an audience and did a rare sit down Q&A following. Prada and Simons named their collection Dialogues, and together they explored the concept of a uniform. It’s an idea both have returned to many times over the years, Simons most recently in his exploration of American sportswear at Calvin Klein. “A uniform needs to also express something that is more timeless for me than a season specific fashion item,” said Simons. “My personal uniform is usually quite simple: black pants—Prada, not because I work here—and a sweater,” he added cracking a smile. “I personally go from one uniform to another one,” said Prada. “My last love is white pleated cotton skirt and sweater.” Both of those personal uniforms were evident in the collection’s refined, focused silhouettes, namely, logo shell tops, straight pants, and pleated skirts. Many looks featured wraps fashioned from all sorts of materials—t-shirt jersey, fleece, re-nylon, embroidered duchesse satin, chiné taffeta—drawn around the body. It was a cocooning mood that felt throughly of our work from home moment, while also offering a timeless sense of ease. —Alison S. Cohn
Dolce & Gabbana
Spring 2021 will always be remembered as Dolce & Gabbana’s “patchwork collection,” an explanation-not-required moniker that future fashion historians can point to as an example of how designers adapted to circumstances beyond their control this season. The house was one of many who saw their access to fabrics affected by the pandemic, instead being forced to use bolts they might have had tucked away for a rainy day. In their case, what was available wasn’t slim pickings, but luxe brocades, floral silks, and dotted chiffons. Intriguingly, the print combos both exaggerated and disguised different signature aspects of Dolce. The bold clashes furthered the over-the-top feeling they’ve made a calling card while simultaneously making it harder to spot their Italian bombshell. There were bustier dresses and thigh-high slits (of course), but they didn’t whistle quite as loudly when tucked in amongst prints that positively shouted. —Leah Melby Clinton
After New York and London showed a fair amount of abbreviated collections this season—due to tight edits and pandemic constraints most likely—it’s been energizing to see full collections paraded down a runway in front of masked editors and buyers. Alberta Ferretti was the latest to join that camp, and the additional space allowed a choose your own adventure for wherever we find ourselves next spring. There were crocheted pieces perfect for meandering on vacation, lightweight separates fit for the summertime workday, and slipdresses you could wear over a bikini or with a heel. There were cuffed linen trousers, billowing maxis, and boxy button-ups ready to be worn open and flapping in a breeze. The shapes plus the styling (flat sandals and seashell jewelry) served as a reminder of how brilliantly clothing can evoke a certain time or place. These are clothes designed to be worn in sunshine, in places both happily familiar and romantically new. —Leah Melby Clinton
Silvia Venturini Fendi’s quiet and introspective vision for spring 2021 is a metaphor for our era of social distancing. The window leitmotif which featured prominently throughout her collection came to the Fendi creative director during Italy’s lockdown last spring. Venturini Fendi spent that time watching the world go by from her bedroom window. And by the looks of it, the view from her room is one even Lucy Honeychurch would admire. That inspiration was evident most literally, of course, in Venturini Fendi’s window-pane print dresses. There was also a clever play of transparency and texture through her choice of materials which put the focus on the rigor of Italian craft: lace, latticework furs, and flourishes of ajouré flowers that expose skin to create layers of light and shade. Even the house’s signature Baguette bag got a window treatment, dressed up in tombolo aquilano sugar-coated lace. The technique has been refined by Benedictine nuns—women who know a thing or two about deep contemplation—since the 15th century. —Alison S. Cohn
Elevated basics with a focus on special details is the hallmark of cashmere king Brunello Cucinelli, and the designer drove this point home for spring 2021. He presented a collection titled Pure Spirit that focused on relaxed silhouettes, soft colors, and interplay of textures. A gilded leather coat adds a glam finish to a humble fisherman sweater, while a macramé top—featuring precious sequin yarns and irregular jute ropes knotted together—peeks out from underneath an easy linen suit. Even cozy knit sweats paired with a flowing silk robe are given the royal treatment. Through each elegantly understated ensemble, Cucinelli proves that there’s beauty in simplicity. —Barry Samaha.
Over the past few years, the sustainable Italian brand Redemption has shown its rock ’n’ roll chic collections at Paris Fashion Week, But for spring 2021 creative director Bebe Moratti decided to stay closer to home, shooting a fashion film at a country estate in Lombardy. It features models strutting through the grounds in high-slit maxi dresses in shocking pink and electric blue, oversized blazers over cut-off denim shorts, and zebra print blazers. The colorful python-effect boots are vegan: they’re a collaboration with sustainable footwear brand AERA and are made in Veneto from 50 percent bio-based materials including corn, wood, and cotton. In fact, the majority of the collection—down to the upcycled sequin embellishments—was fashioned from certified recycled and organic materials, offering proof that there’s nothing sexier than environmental responsibility. —Barry Samaha