Due to an overbooked flight, I was left begging with the airline staff to try and get me on the next one. It was imperative that I get to Milan. That kind of fervour is appropriate when it comes to Italy’s fashion capital, not necessarily because of the immense quality of the shows but because of the power Milan holds. It is, after all, the home of the big brands that advertise in the major publications. There are exceptions when quality and power come together. Prada is the one that everyone anticipates as a season-defining moment. Fendi is another. And then there are laugh-out-loud moments like at Moschino when Milan shows a sense of humour. (This doesn’t happen often.) Most of the time it’s the power of the city’s fashionscape that holds you there, that keeps you trotting through the days.
Fashion bows to the powers that be – and the powers that be very much make their presence known in Milan. When you enter into Giorgio Armani's concrete headquarters for their shows, you feel it. Every ticket is scanned and checked (God forbid you're issued a ticket and you don’t go). There was much overanalysis but essentially the Emporio Armani show was a study in blue.
Fendi reconstructed the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana in Rome – an icon of fascist architecture – as the backdrop to their set. Next year Fendi moves its headquarters thereand the underlying statement beneath the orchid-shaped leather work, feather dresses and graphic striped ensembles was that Fendi is a powerful Roman house. It can occupy this imposing monument, known commonly as the Square Colosseum that was originally commissioned by Mussolini. It can fund the restoration of the Trevi fountain in Rome. It can do all of that and show supremacy in textile experimentation that few houses can rival.
That ‘70s thing
We stared at purple sand dunes in Prada’s HQ, while listening to a spaced-out soundtrack, pondering what it all meant. That’s the mystique of Miuccia Prada. She keeps us guessing and whatever she sends out, emits ripples of excitement into the audience and beyond. We got a relatively straightforward collection for Prada but with the twists and turns we’d expect. White-stitched dark denim trench coats, Victoriana blouses, folksy leather skirts and patchwork brocade worked into classic Prada pencil skirts were what Miuccia was feeling this season. It had a loosely late-‘60s-/early-‘70s vibe, inspired by psych rock, free love and hippy peace movements. The soundtrack was the tell-tale sign. It was entirely made up of the song Kiss Me by British experimental artist Genesis P-orridge and the group Psychic TV, and though it sounded straight out of early ‘70s but was in fact conceived in the late ‘80s. In the same way, Miuccia saw the past through her own filter, and it was a convincing one because she wasn’t just looking to the past. She was remixing it for the future.
Jeremy Scott’s second collection for Moschino seems to confirm suspicions about fashion people that many hold – dumb, shallow and with less sense than most. Scott confronted the cliché head on in a pink ‘n’ perky collaboration with toy giant Mattel, accompanied by big blonde hair, beauty pageant smiles and even a roller-skating model who twirled down the runway. Like it or loathe it, Scott’s schtick is to go for the Insta-obvious. That’s why his designs instantly speak to a majority without further explanation or analysis. It’s why a capsule collection consisting of Mattel/Moschino logo jumpers and a t-shirt that says ‘It’s very expensive being Moschino’, are likely to sell out fast. Scott is definitely no bimbo.
If you would like to comment on this story or anything else you have seen on BBC Culture, head over to our Facebook page or message us on Twitter.