It takes a lot to unite a weary fashion crowd in agreement but as the great and good of the men's fashion world stalked the streets of Milan last night there was one show on everyone's lips. Moncler Gamme Bleu, which had taken place earlier in the evening, provided proof that business and creativity can work together to brilliant effect to defy the doom and gloom of a recession.
Watch the Moncler SS10 show in full
Hosted in Luigi Secchi's imposing Piscina Cozzi (built in 1934 and renovated just last year) the show was a masterful display of synchronicity, organisation and athleticism as well as fashion. 57 towelling-robed figures in black goggles lined up on the gallery in front of the pool and, as the music started they got into formation, the front 20 stripping off to trunks and diving, in time to the music into the pool. As a spectacle, it was very Leni Riefenstahl (in aesthetics alone, of course).
See some of the looks from the show
Synchronised swimming in front crawl can't be easy for the duration of a fashion show (even more so given the music went from classical to Louis Armstrong's 'All the Time in World') but the athletes, chosen from swimming schools across Milan made it look effortless. At the same time, one after another, the remaining 37 models handed their robes to porters at the side, used the pool's edge as a runway to show off the SS10 collection.
The theme of the collection was of course summer sports - sailing, tennis, swimming, surfing - with a classic American feel, combined with Browne's avant-garde edge. Tailored pieces in traditional fabrics (trenches, Chesterfield coats and cardigans in wool, seersucker and terrycloth) were shown with more traditional sportswear and foulweather garments in nylon and plastic.
Though it was only the second showing of Moncler Gamme Bleu, the heritage French skiwear label's high fashion, conceptual arm, under creative direction of Thom Browne, it was one that everyone will remember for some time. Credit must go to Moncler's proprietor Remo Ruffini who we've watched closely and admired greatly since he took over in 2003. Likewise to Etienne Russo of Villa Eugenie, the Belgian-based show producer who more than lived up to his 2009 Wallpaper* award for Best Showman. As three men working together to create a singular vision for a brand and show, they haven't just raised the bar, if you'll excuse the pun they've blown it out of the water.