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"It's Carolina Herrera meets Axl Rose," Fausto Puglisi said backstage before his show. Now that's a sound bite. Puglisi has been fairly fearless from the start, but he went right up to the edge of bad taste in this, his label's first full runway outing. For one thing, he commissioned a saddlemaker in Tuscany to hand-make black leather harness bras that exposed a lot more than they concealed. The saddlemaker's straps and buckles appeared on a flouncy A-line skirt and a menacing motorcycle jacket, too.

Going head-to-head with all the bondage couture? Some very of-the-moment palm trees. Puglisi used them as prints on silk twill shirts and ball skirts (très Carolina Herrera, as it happens), and stitched them in crystals and gold paillettes onto long dresses split hem to hip—lavish embroideries like that are his signature. As unlikely as the combination sounds, Puglisi's collection connected. He's got an engaging color sense, and he's a talented technician. Importantly, having costumed musicians for years before launching his label, he has a real eye for what makes a strong picture. It's no coincidence that street-style star Anna Dello Russo was an early fan.

As the Italian shows come to an end, it's been a week marked by the emergence, long overdue here, of new designers. After false starts elsewhere, Alessandra Facchinetti made a good first impression at Tod's. Alexis Martial got noticed at Iceberg. Puglisi has the makings of a star. He already has a Super Bowl halftime performance under his belt—Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., supporting Madonna (a Puglisi fan herself) in 2012—and he's been hired to revive the French label Emanuel Ungaro. He definitely added some sizzle to this Milan Sunday.


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marie claire

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