I try to avoid speaking in the first person when reviewing the catwalk shows for SHOWstudio. Something Suzy Menkes said to me during her In Fashion interview stuck in my brain like a wayward piece of shrapnel: 'I don't write about things that I like myself... that's always been my biggest beef'. Indeed, it's not about what 'I' like - it's about fashion, and what's right for now.
At the same time, fashion will always be subjective. It's difficult to divorce yourself from... well, yourself. Try as they might, so many British journalists won't like Fendi's marvellous Autumn/Winter collection because of an almost inbred English aversion to fur. British magazines and newspapers refuse to feature it, so much so that the only place in the world Prada offered the faux version of their Spring/Summer 2011 humbug-striped fox stoles for editorial use was - you guessed it - the UK. Yesterday morning, when a springbok jacket turned on Fendi catwalk to reveal a truly beastly bustle-like protrusion of fur above the model's buttocks, I saw a number of British editors visibly blanch. I thought it was fantastic. But that's also subjective (and I was raised on the Eclect Dissect hijinks of Simon Costin and Alexander McQueen, after all).
Equally, while I divorced myself from Gucci enough to appreciate Frida Giannini's glam-Goth direction for winter, it failed raise my pulse-rate. I'm sure lots of people will buy into that velvet-wrapped dark dream she's hawking, but I won't be one of them.
That's sort of the issue with Milan. After London - where you have to dry-clean the blood, sweat and tears out of the clothes designers have lovingly crafted - there's too much product here and not enough soul. I remember an old story of Tom Ford editing his Gucci show collection by pulling garments he didn't like off their hangers and letting them slither to the floor. Next! A slightly younger Ford tale was of the Yves Saint Laurent seamstress who quit after Ford cut her dress from his first Yves Saint Laurent show. She'd been hand-embroidering it for four weeks straight. That's a fair bit of emotion stitched into a garment. They really don't make 'em like that anymore, and never did in Milan. That's why Ford didn't get her problem when he sent that gown slithering to the ground. His latest collection, presented in London by the Lord Ford himself, contained a sweater of stretch tulle with individually applied crocodile scales, retailing at £18,000. Wonder if he'd toss that onto the ground?
The (subjective) highlight of Milan thusfar was an excellent Prada show last night, clean in shape with rich jewelled textures. There wasn't too much going on beneath the bedazzled surface, but you did want to wear this stuff, stat. The revived Prada geometrics from the Autumn/Winter 1996 collection were fun for fashion trainspotters like me. There was an original pair in bri-nylon on eBay that sold out an hour after the show. How's that for an instant market thumbs-up? Much more effective than a Facebook like.
Today, in a break from catwalking, I'm attending a press conference on the Prada/Schiaparelli exhibition to open at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art thus summer. Then a re-see of last night's Prada collection and a presentation of the latest Sergio Rossi collection from Francesco Russo, before the Versace show.