Though "put a bird on it" has become shorthand for a kind of
hipster-endorsed brand of twee, there are still creative, unsettling
ways to put the avian into fashion. Angela Missoni's investigations into
ornithology pointed the way. Birds made their first appearance on her
runway for Spring, where, in abstract print, they flapped over dresses,
lending a bit of Hitchcockian creepiness. For Pre-Fall, there was less
menace, but still something otherworldly about the way she cut jacket
sleeves above the elbow to resemble folded wings, and layered tiers of
scallop-shaped petals, like the rounded edges of feathers, to make
skirts, tops, and shrugs.
Overall, the Pre-Fall collection found Angela more in her element than she was during the experiments of Spring. Shapes emphasized movement and swing: trapeze dresses and A-line coats; wide, swishy trousers; and long, pleated skirts. The brilliant colors that are a Missoni hallmark were dimmed a bit, to an array of blacks, whites, and grays, touched up here and there with coral and turquoise. But texture and pattern stepped into the void. A long, ombré shift in guipure lace worn over Missoni's famous space dye gave an effect that looked to be sparkling and dissolving at once. It was slightly surreal, which was fitting, given one of the collection's inspirations: the bird-woman paintings of the great German surrealist Max Ernst. Therein lies the Italia/Portlandia difference. Missoni's women aren't wearing birds, they're half bird themselves. With fur hoods atop their heads and fur-tufted gloves covering arms, it wasn't hard to believe.