Umit Benan, the new(ish) creative director of Trussardi, had a double whammy of expectation on his head for spring 2012. Not only was it his first womenswear collection for the house, showcased on a gargantuan catwalk at the Castello Sforzesco, a fortress at the very heart of Milan - it was his first womenswear collection, ever.
It was understandable that Benan decided to stick with what he knows as the basis for the collections. And what he knows very well is menswear, after all, along with a great line in nifty show presentations. Both were in evidence today, as his Trussardi women took to a catwalk styled like a Boeing 747 for an exercise in postmodern jet-set dressing. Sounds tacky and trite? It kind of was - but that was part of its inimitable appeal.
The clothes themselves, however, were the main story, despite the aviation backdrop. Benan said he looked to Annie Hall (that old inspiration chestnut) for ideas of how to cross-dress his Turssardi woman. But in actual fact, Diane Keaton's character was just a convenient peg for Benan to hang his aesthetic ideas upon. Given the slouchy, easy and often sexless shapes of his loose blazers and the flat heft of the shoes, Gertrude Stein would perhaps have been more appropriate - but a handbag called the Gertrude is hardly likely to shift in the massive quantities the Trussardi name demands.
Cast all expectations and preconceptions out of your head, however. What Benan showed for spring was exciting, invigorating and new. He used a clutch of colours - burgundy, chambray blue, white and every shade of fusty, dusty brown - to colour a simple range of daywear, from mannish jackets to tapered trousers to a slightly sexed-up leather pencil skirt and crisp button-down shirt. The jet-plane set allowed the models to assemble in his bravado reclamations of seventies Saint Laurent safari garb: at the end of the show we were left with a tableau vivant of modern, straightforward daywear spiced-up with clean accessories. Nothing even vaguely approaching evening-wear came out, a decision that was strong, modern and vibrant. Androgyny was key, but not the slightly wet, Hollywood-ised androgyny of Annie Hall: many of Benan's models looked like frightfully well brought-up Argentinian polo-players lightly cross-dressed in flimsy skirts, cropped trousers and high-heels. Amid a glut of overdressed, overpreened femininity in Milan, Benan's suited and booted, clean-cut vision felt like the future. And a future that looked pretty fantastic.