String Dresses, Biker Chicks, & Glamthleisure: A Look At Milan Fashion Week

It's easy to get lost in the wild and crazy side of Milan Fashion Week: the supermodel reunions, the walking floral bouquets, the bejeweled chin straps. Not that there's anything wrong with that — we live for those fantastic moments that can only be lived at a runway show, because the fantasy level is way too high for real life — but underneath all the wonder and hoopla are real clothes. You know, ones we will get married in, ones we will go to work in, even ones that will define the year and say something about the state of our culture at that very moment.

Beyond eating all the pasta, pizza, meats and cheese platters and gelato, there was a lot to take in at Milan Fashion Week: beautiful locations, an upbeat spirit that permeated every presentation and show, and all our favorite songs that played at the shows (Suzanne Vega at Prada, Tears for Fears and Pat Benatar at No. 21, TLC at Missoni). And then, of course, there were the clothes: the throwback logos at Fendi and Max Mara, the wackadoodle multi-color string dress at Vionnet that may not even qualify as a dress but was still beautiful, the way all the girls at the Attico presentation were dripping with attitude. More importantly, almost every single show featured a truly diverse cast — from new favorite Hiandra Martinez who rocked cornrows at a couple shows, to HoYeon Jung whose Kool Aid-red hair was a real throwback to our high school days, Milan has really embraced the race issues that until recently seemed like they were only a concern in America.

When the world feels so heavy every day, Fashion Month can proof that there's still so much beauty in the world. But even more, that there is power in harnessing that beauty, whatever it may mean to you. Here's what it means to us.

Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
If we're looking for a statement, the Prada runway is always the place to start. While some designers have recently begun experimenting with mixing politics and fashion, Miuccia Prada — a member of the Italian Communist Party, who was involved in the Women's Rights Movement in the '70s — has always imbued her clothes with a sense of liberation. She's made these emotions even more obvious in her most recent collections. Last season's set, for example, featured posters that read "fashion is about the everyday and the everyday is the political stage of our freedom," continuing on that thread, she collaborated with eight female illustrators, including Tarpé Mills, who created the first female action hero, Miss Fury, whose illustrations covered the entirety of the space, and were also the prints the collection was based around.

Prada
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
The silhouettes were classic Prada, pencil skirts worn with little blouses layered under asymmetrical vests bearing spiders, a-line jumpers worn over pants, layering the conventionally feminine over the conventionally masculine. This wasn't a collection about gender-bending, it was a show about women's power and ability. There was also a nod to Teddy Girls, girl gangs in the 1950's who rejected the austerity during the post-war years and indulged in men's Edwardian clothes they found in thriftstores. But perhaps the most obvious symbol of Prada's political leanings, was the illustration of Angela Davis, the civil rights activist, author, and academic, that appeared on jackets, earrings, and bags.

Prada
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Prada
Courtesy of Stella Jean.
Although they may not have been as vocal, that same feeling permeated many of the other collections. At Stella Jean, models wore boxer shorts layered under sparkly, fringed skirts. Elsewhere, there was power in bold colors. These were not clothes for women who want to go through life unnoticed, making the least amount of noise possible. Like a visual, color-based "manspreading," there were dresses, coats, and shoes that immediately command the attention of any room.

Stella Jean
Courtesy of Vionnet.
Vionnet
Courtesy of Antonio Marras.
Antonio Marras
Courtesy of Jil Sander.
Jil Sander
Courtesy of Marco de Vincenzo.
Marco de Vincenzo
Courtesy of No. 21.
No. 21
Courtesy of Agnona.
At Agnona, a label whose focus on sumptuous fabrics means the clothes exude an unparalleled sense of luxury, designer Simon Holloway exploration of David Hockney paintings resulted in an explosion of color that recalled a youthful experimentation with a brand new box of crayons. There was a long bubblegum pink coat, a pair of strawberry pink trousers, a cobalt blue jacket, and an ethereal maxi dress in three shades of yellow that undulated like magic behind the model as she walked by. All the looks topped off with flatform sandals in contrasting shades that were made for stomping down the street.

Agnona
Courtesy of Agnona.
Agnona
Courtesy of Arthur Arbesser.
Color also played an important role at Arthur Arbesser, a finalist for the LVMH prize in 2015, who is surely becoming one of the young designers to watch. His deft use of neon shades — highlighter green and yellows, and metallic purples, contrasted beautifully with the live piano that accompanied his runway presentation. Some of his silhouettes recalled vintage children's clothes but thankfully lacked any sense of preciousness. They are the clothes that as you wear through the years strangers will always ask about, the ones that won't be dated to a time and place and will become uniquely yours the minute you wear them.

Arthur Arbesser
Courtesy of Arthur Arbesser.
Arthur Arbesser
Courtesy of Tod's.
Or if primary colors aren't your thing, there is something inherently bad ass about the full-on leather ensembles in the most delicious shades of coffee and caramel seen at Tod's. A way to indulge all your biker chick/leather daddy (leather mommy?) fantasies.

Tod's
Courtesy of Tod's.
Tod's
Catwalking/Getty Images.
Let's talk leather fantasies, yes? If what you want is the real deal, then look no further than Versace, whose collection paid homage to the greatest hits of the label's original designer Gianni Versace. Donatella sees fashion's current obsession with the Western shirt, and raises the bet with a black leather version that is studded and topstitched in gold, worn with a matching mini-skirt and bolo-tie. It's power! Glamour! Excess! No wonder we all loved Gianni so much.

Versace
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
But Donatella also knows millennials love a pastel moment! (And maybe she also knows we love to post that image of Nadja, Christy, Claudia, Cindy, and Stephanie in matching chunky sweaters and metallic leather skirts on our Instagrams more than anything) and she also sent a baby blue and baby pink suits down the runway and we are definitely already cutting back on our daily green juices so that we can maybe buy a pair of the socks once they go on sale. Or we can get the t-shirt with the vintage Versace logo instead? Either way, Donatella has our back. Everything in this collection was major, though, so we highly recommend you check out images from the whole show should you have a few minutes to spare.

Versace
Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Another label that was looking back at its history was Missoni, who this year was celebrating Angela Missoni's 20th year at the brand. And oh, it was a party alright! Missoni's never been shy when it comes to color, but it was their artful layering that got our hearts racing, especially when it came to the knit eyelet suit in their signature zig-zag pattern, worn with a purple glitter cardigan and an orange crop top. It was a most glamorous take on that now-classic American staple, the sweatsuit.

Missoni
Catwalking/Getty Images.
Missoni
Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.
Of course, you can't talk about sweatsuits without thinking about Juicy Couture velour sweatsuits, and would you believe it if we told you Bottega Veneta had the chicest take we'd seen on this to date? Out came Mica Arganaraz in a moss green pantsuit with glittering grommets all over the neckline, and suddenly the early 2000's nostalgia went on overdrive. Although realistically, it is the peach hoodie worn with a sparkly lilac skirt that had us visualizing ourselves being a boss bitch on our way to work.

Bottega Veneta
Courtesy of Bottega Veneta.
Bottega Veneta
Courtesy of Etro.
If on the other hand, thinking about sweatsuits makes you think about actually working out, then Etro had the coolest sports bra and leggings combo. Of course the real appeal of these, is the major flex that is throwing on a matching robe after you are done with class and are off to brunch or dinner or wherever the day may take you. (Do you think the ginormous earrings help with your handstands? Either way, we want them).

Etro