Unlike most of his peers, Nicola Brognano doesn’t particularly revel in archival deep dives. “I just look at what I’ve done so far at Blumarine, trying to push it forward, making it evolve into something new,” he said backstage. Yet the past is difficult to avoid, especially when it comes through the visual evidence of the label’s advertising campaigns, lensed by major fashion photographers. A ’90s image of a young Milla Jovovich sporting a gamine close-cropped hairstyle resurfaced some time ago, and triggered his curiosity. That led to the dusting off of Luc Besson’s movie The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc, shot in 1999 and starring Jovovich in the epic role of the pucelle d’Orléans. “I was transfixed,” said Brognano. He had found his fall heroine.
Blumarine, Joan of Arc, and the Middle Ages aren’t an immediately compatible combination, but Brognano doesn’t lack confidence. Indulging in theatrics, he had the show’s set replicate a sort of barren, stony land, in which a huge iron-cast B (as in Blumarine) was set ablaze, hinting at the pyre where Joan of Arc was martyred and at her indomitable, heroic passion. It was a dark, rather disquieting setting, miles apart from the flirty, macarons-hued frills populating the catwalks of the label’s beginnings. Brognano traded those bubbly vibes for the liquid, sexy shine of slinky silver armor, steering Blumarine towards eroticism, intensity, and danger.
Joan of Arc is rather charged inspiration material, and Brognano hinted at her complexity only tangentially, focusing instead on her visual appeal. Tight-fitting draped minidresses were cut in silver or gold metallic jersey, elongated into leggings covering the curved heels of sharp-pointed shoes. Floor-sweeping shearling greatcoats looked imposing, almost majestic, while slender see-through tunics in metallic net suggested a sort of monastic sexiness. Shearling ultra-miniskirts weren’t bigger than belts, and midriff-baring tops in liquid golden jersey alternated with slinky draped minidresses in gray stretch jersey, the same fabric used for hoodies and sweats. Chunky buckles abounded; knickerbockers were tucked into high-heeled laced shearling boots.
Evening options included a rather spectacular bustier gown in flame-red georgette with asymmetrical frayed-hem skirts, and a form-fitting number in stretchy leopard-printed jersey, which Brognano called “a relaxed red carpet option.” Feeling relaxed on a red carpet? Never heard of it. But the unflappable Brognano, surrounded by his coterie of fearless Blumarine glamazons, could master the situation with aplomb.