As we say it here, die die must do
After three fashion weeks in video format, it was refreshing to view the Etro fashion show as an actual fashion show. Are we really back to pre-pandemic times? People, for whom these clothes might be enticing, were really seeing models walk by. And while we did not have the proverbial front row seat, we were watching the presentation on our screen as we always did: engaged.
But, at the risk of contradicting ourselves, this particular live stream wasn’t entirely comfortable to watch. We were distracted by other thoughts: What safe-distancing measures were in place backstage? Were the models already based in Milan or did they fly in from different parts of the world? And the guests? Was it necessary to return to what was before when now, the world is still struggling with the pandemic? Will the Etro event be the first cluster of the fashion season?
As the reality of the present is ever present in our minds, the family-owned Etro appeared to put on a brave, cheerful face. Co-designer Kean Etro told the media that staging the show was “an act of courage that comes from the heart.” Refusing to allow a still-raging pandemic to cancel their annual show, the Etros had their runway event at the Four Seasons hotel in Milan. In February, Italy had the highest number of COVID-19 infections in Europe, and the first country in the continent to impose a lockdown. Now, they are the first to bring back the physical fashion show, while “Italian doctors are warning that COVID-19 is not just a respiratory disease but a killer affecting the whole body”, according to Sky News.
And it was a rather staid affair. Held in a garden of the hotel, with the guests seated along footpaths and under square patio umbrellas. The music was played live by a trio paying tribute to Ennio Morricone. The models were cheerily decked out, but they looked glum (more than usual?), walking almost deprived of the energy usually evident in a fashion show that feature such potentially buzzy clothes for what the Etros called “a world of joie de vivre, colour and positivity”. It was hard to feel chipper when the models were not.
Moreover, we could not connect with Etro’s semi-romantic, semi-bohemian styles. It can be appreciated that there was attempt at staying atop the current gloom, but is the mood of the moment right? Known for their prints, Etro looked to their past and worked with archival patterns of the house, in fabrics that are reportedly eco-friendly, as well as those that are of vintage stock, in a welcome upcycle exercise. The result is contemporary, with hints of a vagabond life. Or as Etro acknowledges, “forever inspired by the world of travel”. Are we talking about vacations yet?
The clothes sure looked like they were destined to be on those still able to enjoy a life free of tension and anxiety. Print on print, colours that pop, shapes that are relaxed, this collection could easily be mistaken for the cruise. The women get their share of flowy dresses, pretty wamuses, and printed denim cut-offs, while the men will get their printed shirts and suits, fancy polo shirts, and all the chinos they care to wear. One other bug, it seems, that cannot be eradicated is the travel bug.
Screen grab (top) and photos: Etro