Milan: Day 2

Would-be fashion genealogists could talk forever about a brand’s “DNA.” But really, enough is enough. Brands have always had identities; there’s no need to inject them with more genes—or more genius.

At Roberto Cavalli, it’s always been very simple. Each season sees a radical shift from the season before, careening from Marie Antoinette to Neapolitan slut, from babushka to sci-fi warrior. For spring, it’s about a kind of country girl, with sweet floral pints and an aversion to overt sex appeal. The bohemian dresses worn over slim pants are a nice idea for stylists, but all of this reaching for ideas makes us wonder if Roberto Cavalli suffers from schizophrenia, or if he is in fact the designer of his own brand.

To a lesser degree, Frida Giannini at Gucci also emerges in a different mood each season, and various retro references. Her staff has been known to frequent Anoushka, a culty vintage shop in Paris where she buys 70s Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche blouses and rare 80s Azzedine Alaïa. Moving the brand further away from luxury, this season she channeled Helmut Lang with an array of straps, cutouts and buckles, mixing in high-tech sportswear. The message was very seductive and the season’s 90s revival has surely been noticed by those DNA experts.

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