Milan: Irony prevails at Benetton, frills at Max Mara


Model Kaia Gerber wears a creation as part of Max Mara’s Fall/Winter 2020/2021 collection, presented in Milan, Italy, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

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MILAN (AP) — The frills are on during Milan Fashion Week, with “pretty” the womenswear watchword of the next cold weather season.

Embellishments appeared even on brands known for their spare lines, mostly in the form of constructed ruffles, gathering and tiers, less often in hardware and bangles.

Highlights from Thursday’s womenswear previews for next fall and winter:



Kaia Gerber was swathed in a navy cape and and Bella Hadid strutted a ruffle shoulder bomber, setting the tone for Max Mara’s collection of looks with a seafaring twist.

Outerwear is the Max Mara forte, and next season is an indulgence of full-length looks in fuzzy teddy bear coats tied with a sailor’s cord, duffels with tassel closures and puffer jackets with puffy sleeves and detachable hoods.

Ruffles and gathers gave the collection its pretty silhouette, including flourishes of tiered ruffles down jacket sleeves, and asymmetrical ruffled skirts peeking playfully out of functional double-breasted jackets, puffer coats or blazers.

Pinstripes and mariner stripes were the only exception to the monochrome rule, in the brand’s standard camel, gray, white and navy. Looks were finished with dock-worker beanies and gloves, and hair styled with a single tiny, wispy braid. Accessories included ample duffel bags.

The show closed with Hadid in a sheer black top with constructed shoulders and high-waisted velvet trousers cinched with a rope belt, and Gerber in an oversized white double-breasted jacket with a detachable hood, paired with a flouncy mini skirt.



Designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac says he is trying to promote a democratic revolution with his collections for Benetton. That would certainly be within the brand’s long history of using fashion as a message for social change.

“Fashion today is blended. It has to be sustainable, affordable and creative — and it has to be for everyone,’’ Castelbajac said after the performance/presentation of the new collection for Benetton, which he joined as creative director in 2018.

The collection was underpinned by utilitarian combos for him and for her in a mashup of plaids and camouflage, as well as prints by Keith Haring — an old friend of Castelbajac’s — Disney’s Bambi superimposed on leopard prints, and laughing cartoon cats and mice. Whimsy was also evident in some designs, such as yellow ruffles peeking like wings from a black jumpsuit.

Castelbajac’s teddy bear coat is quite literal: covered with dozens of mini stuffed bears, reminiscent of the “fur coats” of teddy bears he did for stars like Diana Ross and LL Cool J in previous incarnations. Key to Castelbajac’s philosophy at Benetton, he can make such intense creations more accessible.

Castelbajac said the teddy bear is his revenge for 11 years of boarding school when he wasn’t allowed the comfort of a stuffed animal.

‘’It’s about irony,’’ he said. ‘’We need humanity and tenderness.’’

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