Is capital-C consciousness compatible with capital-F fashion? You’d think, like, no: But the two certainly meet in Kean Etro, who oversees the masculine arm of his family’s Puglia-rooted, Paisley-famed business. This show was yoked to the egg, “as a symbol of primordial life.” It also incorporated the spot iconography of indigenous Australian art, which preempted the oeuvre of Yayoi Kusama by—ooh—30,000 years or so. These Morse-d telegraphs from pre-antiquity were incorporated into the floral and Paisley overlaid jacquards on the collection’s revereless topcoats, the sisters of which starred in the most recent Etro womenswear outing.
The Aboriginal spotting was the seasonal decorative insertion—soundtracked by the mighty outback—but the underlying theme here was a wrestle with notions of gender appropriateness, or lack of. As an entrée our perceptions were scrambled with a vigorously mixed pink section: pink suede jackets and shorts, a suit of pale pink with dotting at its shawl collar. This inured the eye to the crepe de chine shirts and V-necks beneath those topcoats. As Etro said backstage, this house has long inveigled men to engage with the ornate: “If you tell me that Paisley is masculine … well, it took me a long time to fit it in.” At the finale Etro’s models emerged, stood in an oval around the runway’s fingerprint-dot central relief, and linked hands. The poor dears looked awkward, but Etro was in his element. His is a uniquely sincere Italian luxury fashion house—idiosyncratic and erratic—and this collection was an expression of that. If you get it, you get it, and you might want to wear it. If not, move on.