Etro: The apparel and the ecstasy
Nothing like a new management to liberate a venerable brand and unleash the potential of a talented designer. Which was very much the feeling on Sunday at noon in Milan, when Kean Etro staged one of his snappiest and youngest collections for his family-named house.
The show marked the first menswear runway outing by Etro since the giant French conglomerate LVMH – via L Catterton - acquired a majority stake in the Italian firm in July last year.
In an operation that valued Etro at 500 million euros, it looks as if LVMH got themselves a pretty good deal. Especially after this kicky show, staged inside Bocconi, Italy’s top ranked business school, located in south Milan.
Kean playing on the brand’s DNA craftily. Etro is the king of Italian paisley, and the catwalk was one massive patchwork carpet of paisley, with the brand’s name hand-written in multiple versions.
Entitled 'Ex Libris', which roughly translates from Latin as the book “owned by,” the collection included a series of graphic paisleys seen in cashmere roll neck pullovers, chunky alpine sweaters; and some beautiful intarsia woolens featuring designs of wolves and smoldering tigers.
A famously generous spirit, Kean sent copies of classic short novels and philosophical tracts to guests with the show invitations. Literature like the meditations of Maria Maddalena de Pazzi, the Carmelite nun and mystic, entitled The Words of Ecstasy.
“Tomes that disclose journeys of emotions and knowledge… A new mental order can be felt, as crisp as the January light. The journey, whether it is knowledge or adventure, requires a map and map requires clarity, which is not about schematic but about being lucid,” opined Kean, Milan’s fashion philosopher in residence.
Etro’s DNA has always been about weekend nonchalance for a discerning gent, and Kean provided plenty of that from sky blue grandfather shirts and great ski-sweaters emblazoned with spiky rose designs and the simple statement Jioia, or Joy.
Above all, Kean seemed liberated from the silken bonds of his family and stiff clan mores, giving the mood a charming haute-boho attitude. Notably, in a beautiful tuxedo and pant-edged pants, except they came in burnish orange with matching ribbed knitwear tank; or a tremendous playboy black suit dissected by a knit cummerbund.
That said, Etro will always be a maximalist marque, and the paisley carpet pattern soon appeared in billowing pants, with deep front pockets, ideal to hold a short novel; or seen in wolves-howling-at-the-moon pattern pullovers. Perfect après ski clobber, and a highlight in what felt like a liberating collection for Kean, for the house, and even LVMH.
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