Francesco Scognamiglio's work is at its best when he lets loose and really goes for it. Ruffled skirts with lace crotch peepholes and Gaga-friendly minis with giant sleeves are what we have come to expect from one of Milan’s most energetic talents. This season we were promised an equally bonkers display; ‘a noblewoman from Capri from the beginning of the century, a slightly artistic traveller full of bohemian charisma decides to embark on a hot-air balloon trip,’ stated the show notes. The reality was less dramatic. Billowing maxis teamed with high-neck cotton blouses with lace insets in white, black and baby blue formed the crux of the collection. Beautiful, yes, but innovative, no - it all felt a little Florence Welch in Gucci or even Dolce and Gabbana S/S 2011. Either way, it was tired.
Even the tailoring lacked real excitement. Suits featured baggy drop-crotch trousers that appeared gimmicky rather than inventive. The only sign of the old, ingeniously playful Scognamigilio was the endless use of sheer fabric – every single skirt offered the front row a clear view of the models’ derrieres. Otherwise, his risky femme fatale seemed to be having an identity crisis, only making a fleeting appearance in occasional details, such as the bright white Essex girl stiletto booties and the slip-like mesh frill-skirted minis.
One got the sense that Scognamiglio was holding back from showcasing his real vision, and instead turning out what he thought buyers and press wanted, all while hamming up his creations with a lot of hyperbolic hot-air (apt – given his muse’s vehicle of choice). There was only one piece that suggested that Scognamiglio had actually put his heart and soul into the collection, a slinky chainmail maxi dress, embroidered with large embellished glittering birds across the bust. This was a theatrical showstopper, resembling the love child of Michael Jackson and Anna Dello Russo’s wardrobes (well, she is a fan).
Scognamiglio has been a 'rising star’ for a few seasons too long. The point for him to break through seems to have slipped by unnoticed a few collections back. He now appears stuck in between two impossible targets, on the one hand trying to create commercially viable, sellable pieces and on the other still attempting to make a splash with the fun and frivolity on which he initially built his name. Let’s hope that this talented Italian finds a middle ground quickly.