Written by Hugh Gilmore. Milan. Photos courtesy of Vivienne Westwood.
I am technically a resident of the city of Milan, but until recently I had only recognized high fashion as a sort of invisible pulse keeping this city thriving. As a former New Yorker, the fashion scene is not foreign to me, but I still felt it was a great party I just hadn’t been invited to. That of course all changed upon receiving an invitation to the Vivienne Westwood Men’s Autumn/Winter 2013 runway show here in Milan.
After the initial rush of realizing I would see a much-coveted Milan fashion show, the panic began to sink in. I’ve always considered myself a pretty stylish guy, but I couldn’t imagine what standards would be set during Men’s fashion week in an international fashion Mecca. I rustled up a trendy ensemble from Zara and I could practically hear some judgmental socialite casually asking me “Who” I was wearing and the inevitable shame I would feel. As it turns out, the scene was hardly the pretentious stone-casting ritual I thought it would be. Most people were too preoccupied by their own outfits, entourages, and of course their views to even give a second thought about my style.
The show began fashionably late (what did I expect?), but as soon as soon as the first look came down the runway my own pulse had for the first time felt in sync with this city’s. The collection embodied a mixture of dramatic couture and underground style, which made even a novice like me feel in the loop. I appreciated the collection’s lack of pretense and that the exclusive connotation associated with runway fashion may in part be a myth. My lasting impression from the experience is that high fashion, much like any art form is, at its core, designed to be beautiful to most any spectator. There’s no reason to feel like the proverbial band geek in the company of jocks and cheerleaders when the goal of any collection is to be appreciated by a wide audience.