Runway Rundown by Kristin Redding

No one really knows why, but Italians just have a knack for fashion, as most of the more widely known high fashion designers started in and are still based out of Italy.  Luckily for the rest of the world, they’ve got stores all over the globe to satisfy everyone’s fashion cravings.  Here’s a review of some of the European favourites.

Valentino since 1962
At 73-years-old, Garavanni Valentino is still designing some of the most coveted pieces in all the world.  After 40 years of designing for celebrities and royalty alike, he is finally in search of a successor to take the throne to his fashion empire.  Never ceasing to impress, his newest collection is nothing short of stunning.  Similar to Armani, it starts with crisp and clean black and white pieces and evolves into flowy floral garments resembling that of Gucci’s newest line.  Adding a unique touch, he incorporates a slight Asian motif as well.

Gucci since 1906
Gucci has just promoted Frida Giannini to be their new creative director and subsequently, their latest line is strikingly chic.  Giannini combines her famous “flora” print with porcelain prints and nautical accents.  Overall it’s a sort of breezy 70’s look.  Think of being a little girl wearing a sun dress and running through a field of flowers on a warm summer day.  Though they might not all be entirely practical, the line is full of bright colours and vibrant prints making it feel vivid and alive.

Prada since 1913
Started by Mario Prada, and passed down to his granddaughter  Miuccia, Prada is perhaps the most artistic of all the designers.  A bit of an acquired taste, her pieces are usually lacking in bright colours or any type of flattering fit.  The models are always thinner than your average runway model with make-up done to enhance sunken cheeks and fade out their other features.  The garments look to be 5 sizes too big for the skeletal models and are made that way on purpose.  While most designers create clothes to fit people flatteringly, Miuccia confesses to trying to “lose the human figure” in her clothing.  However, they do have a rather practical and successful line of luggage, totes, and handbags.

Dolce & Gabbana since 1985
Soon to split, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana make probably exactly what you think of when someone says haute couture.  Even the pieces in their pra-porter line don’t really make a lot of sense together.  Their latest line came out with a country twist complete with gingham and straw accents.  Dolce & Gabbana claim to be inspired by young and confident individuals.  The perfect D&G woman is strong and sexy with some masculine features but always in high heels, so they say.

Fendi since 1918
Fendi started with Adele Casagrande, who married Edoardo Fendi in 1925, as a leather and fur shop and is one of the only collections to still carry such luxurious furs.  Under the current direction of Karl Lagerfeld, their newer collections are sometimes quite bizarre with strange prints and accents.  One of their newer lines features an oversized belt accompanying almost every single ensemble.  What’s the reason for this recurring theme?  Its subliminal advertising for their newest bag, featuring the same big belt buckle.

Armani since 1974
Famous for his clean, tailored lines, this season, Armani boasts fitted, professional, and practical blazers with matching skirts.  There seems to be a perfectly coordinated ensemble fit for any occasion.  Some of the more formal women’s summer lines typically incorporate a lot of flowing chiffon in neutral colors.  If your like the greater population and are unable to afford top quality designer clothing, Emporio Armani is a less expensive line of ready to wear, and Armani Exchange is an even more affordable alternative.

Burberry since 1856
One of the most famous British brands, Burberry has an unmistakable trademark; the tan, black, red, and white check pattern, formally known as the “nova.”  Started by Thomas Burberry in 1856, in the U.K., it was originally a raincoat company but has evolved into just as high a fashion icon as any.  The runway models in their latest line all look like perfectly wrapped presents, each with a neatly fitted ensemble complete with a precisely tied bow.  Classic and antique British looking, the Burberry line includes peacoats, raincoats, and cropped cloaks all with large buttons.  Burberry is among the few to have been granted royal warrants by HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH Prince Charles, meaning they can advertise that they outfit the royal family.

Yves Saint Laurent since 1962
Saint Laurent started under Dior and upon his release, had a quite successful line during the 60’s and 70’s.  In 1999, it was bought out by Gucci and Tom Ford was to design the ready to wear line while Saint Laurent was still designing the couture line.  However, the couture line was terminated in 2002 with the fading health of Saint Laurent, but the ready to wear collection still exists under the direction of Stefano Pilati.  Most of the line is simple but looks very sharp and put together.  The men’s and women’s suits all look very fluid and professional.


Latest high fashion trends:
Oversized handbags
Tapered pants and trousers cut at the ankle
Flats or extra high heels
Stockings
High waisted pants and trousers for women
Similar men’s and women’s lines: scarves, cropped pants, ruffled shirts, vests, short shorts
Thick belts
Gold accessories

Vocabulary:
House: Formal name used when referring to the collections of a designer.  Ex: House of Dior

Haute Couture: The most expensive and unique high fashion line by a house.  Usually worn only on the runway or by celebrities.  Generally impractical for everyday wear.

Pret-a-porter:  The less expensive, mass produced line by a house.  Resembles the haute couture line, but much more practical for wear.  Carried in their stores and outlets around the world.

Sources: wikipedia.org, style.com

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