Aqualino Rimoldi, Ready-to-wear (Winter 2012), Milan Fashion Week

Opulence is back on the menu at Milan Fashion Week

Harriet Quick, Fashion Features Director at British Vogue, reports on the return of silk, chiffon and fur

Between a shift dress in fishscale sequins topped with a shaggy eco fur coat (Prada), a pussycat bow, long chiffon gown in emerald with matching big knickers and a fedora (Gucci), or a gold embroidered velvet sheath dress (Pucci), ­ you will soon understand that Milan designers are all about showing off this season, as a sense of opulence and joyousness returns to the fashion menu.

What they have been working hard to achieve is easy-to-wear pieces that have a sense of drama and intelligence, rather than just offering pure bravura. It could be a silk damask covered with daisies and cut into a cocooning skirt suit at Jil Sander, or even a Lurex threaded crochet knit at Missoni or a furl-fronted blouse at Fendi, but the effort was to create pieces that have a 3D appeal, a luxe allure, and plenty of artisan pedigree.

New design duo, Aquilano Rimondi, call it Maximal Modernism. It's rare to see a new label rising through the ranks but their way with decoration and colour is breath taking. Imagine a swing back jacket in nougat mohair that gradates into handpainted tobacco, then gold hem? Or a shift dress with a crisscross graphic of gems and velvet ribbon.

The perfectionist Thomas Maier at Bottega Veneta worked his fabrics to the max but gave them perverse, destroyed touches. A tweed box-pleat ivory skirt might come with a charcoal smudged raw hem or a Pollack like silk print slip literally shredded into tatters and slipped under a delicate lace vest dress. A printed velvet handbag, meanwhile, could be lacerated and reconstructed with strips of exotic skin to play on the brand's woven-leather signature.

Fashion with love, effort and plenty of intelligent flash certainly gets my vote.


Harriet Quick is the Fashion Features Director at Vogue UK