The Etro empire is founded on paisley, the Kashmiri design that Scottish
weavers turned into the pattern we know and—if our name is Kean
Etro—love. So much so that he renamed it Playsley for his new
collection. But if that promised the kind of lighthearted circus he
usually stages, it was misleading. Kean has been spending a lot of
leisure time on mind- and culture-expanding activities in the
countryside outside Milan, so the foundation of his show was, according
to the extraordinarily complicated notes he gave us, "complex explorable
tridimensional structures." And it was quite possible that the
soundtrack was being provided by Eskimo shaman Angaangaq
The waves of color that determined the show's rhythm flowed from blue via red to white, symbolizing, according to Kean, "the attainment of a state of serenity and light." And, in the vein of the Eastern philosophy that rhythm so clearly referenced, the collection was a return to paisley's Kashmiri roots. Rather than the masculine hyper-tailoring that has been a traditional house signature, there were soft, flowing pieces that were much more androgynous. Jewel-toned silks were cut into loose trousers and long kurta-like tops. The paisley pattern was exploded or faded away to nothing, embroidered or overdyed. There were braided military jackets which suggested that Kean might be spinning a yarn of life on the old Indian frontier. (One of his notes referred to clothes suitable for a party at an embassy, which is a 19th-century notion if ever we saw one.) A passage of striped cottons looked plain-and-simple fresh by comparison.
A question hovered at show's end: What would the traditional Etro dandy make of this silken be-turbaned fantasia? One imagines that, unfazed, he'd simply tamp down his opium pipe and puff on.