Wednesday 15th July

| BY Claudia Croft

Etro: Menswear SS21

The show must go on. That was the view of Kean and Veronica Etro, who hosted the only catwalk show of the season so far to be presented in front of a live audience. In a joint statement, the siblings said they wanted “to support the fashion system and the city of Milan with a positive message. We value the importance of digital but also believe in the vital energy of live interactions”. The co-ed show was held in the courtyard garden of the Four Season’s Hotel in Milan, and offered a glimpse of what September’s fashion weeks (when many brands plan to hold shows with small audiences and livestream them to globally) could look and feel like.

An overhead drone filmed the two designers in the open-air backstage area, their models spaced out in a spiral, waiting to walk. The siblings provided elegant chamber music and breakfast for the audience who sat in socially distanced formation. Some wore masks, others did not, as Etro’s diverse group of models crunched along the immaculate gravel paths. Lockdown must have been a particular challenge for a brand so rooted in exotic travel and far-flung inspiration. But confinement provided an opportunity for the designers to hone the essence of Etro’s appeal: Easy elegance, effortless shapes, joyful colours and a focus on beautiful fabrics. The designers spoke of wanting to showcase real clothes for real people focusing on “what we like, what we think is relevant, what makes us feel good.” The house’s favourite paisleys, madras checks and stripes all played a part on deconstructed suits, tonal separates and feminine maxi dresses.

This combined showing of the SS21 men’s and 2021 women’s Resort collections also used vintage ties and upcycled archival textiles. Denim was patchworked into new pieces as part of the new Benetroessere eco range. After Italy’s long lockdown, this return to semi-normal felt emotional. Afterwards, the designers said: “we want to highlight that we are a family, that Etro is a family living in a world of joie de vivre, colour and positivity.” Even from our front-row seat in a small London office it was clear there were feel-good vibes all round.