February 18, 2008 Milan
Did they succeed? In part. The collection was inspired, they said, by Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstättea sort of black-and-white alternative to the gilded exoticism of Gustav Klimt, which has been gaining so much currency elsewhere this season. The first looka narrow black maxi coat with a raised waist and a high, furled collarand a couple of columnar print dresses later in the show, put Aquilano and Rimondi in sync with the emerging feeling for longer lengths. Their concentration on working neatly tailored jackets and a skinny-leg pant widening to a slight flare also proved an awareness of directional trends. Still, as a whole, the designers' use of diagonal windowpane check; a narrow, poufed shoulder line; tubular trimmings on necklines; flat bows; and silver buttons was too derivative of Nicolas Ghesquière's Balenciaga. These guys undoubtedly have talent, but, like so many other young designers, they need to articulate what they want to say in a voice of their own. Holding back from overworking their things would be one step in the right directionas would getting out to experience the world a bit more. Milan is still a great city in which to make clothes of quality, but it's also a provincial place from which it's not always easy to grasp the bigger picture.