In Milan more than anywhere else, fashion is a business. This fall-winter 2023-2024 women’s fashion week, which takes place from February 22 to 26 in the Lombard capital, has of course a dose of extravagance. But this one is located near the shows more than on the catwalks: hordes of fans await their smartphone idols in hand (influencers and K-pop stars), while photographers in search of guests with unique looks – not to say very scantily clad – jostle on the roadway, causing traffic jams and concerts of car horns. The fashion shows remain serious: Italian fashion is an industry driven by big names with a rich heritage. And each to cultivate what makes it unique.
At the Prada Foundation, whose air is fragrant thanks to the suspensions of bouquets of lilies that descend from the ceiling, Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons offer a wardrobe articulated around the notion of beauty. “ There is, in fashion, the idea that only glamor matters. I hate it, I’ve always opposed it. This collection is all about finding beauty everywhere. We studied nursing uniforms, because the act of caring for others is a beautiful thing. We wanted to turn these grooming uniforms into beauty uniforms,” explains the designer. Traditional nurses’ blouses thus become long white shirt dresses.
The notion of uniform has always infused the work of Miuccia Prada, but also that of Raf Simons, before they joined forces in 2020. Here, it comes impeccably and in the simplest of ways: beautiful knit sweaters worn with corolla skirts – inspired here by the uniform of brides – military influences found in khaki cotton shirts, worn with cropped trousers or even mini-bomber jackets.
These pieces are accompanied by long cracked leather coats, duffle coats with exaggerated volumes, brown suede jackets, beautiful gray knitted cardigans or even patent leather pumps and ballet flats embossed with floral motifs. The strength of the Prada/Simons tandem consists in making this wardrobe immediately desirable and signing here, without a doubt, a future success in store.
A revisited heritage
At Fendi, Kim Jones, at the helm of women’s collections since 2020, was inspired by the personal wardrobe of Delfina Delettrez Fendi, the brand’s jewelry design director and daughter of Silvia Venturini Fendi (artistic director of men’s collections and accessories). . Or how to explore the heritage of a family home in a contemporary way. “There is a certain chic, but with a dose of wickedness in the way Delfina twists Fendi, and that’s what I like. The first day I worked with her, she wore blue with brown and I thought it was great. Its look is deconstructed but luxurious, with a little nod to punk”explains the British designer.
The first silhouette, a blue knit waistcoat, one of whose sides intertwines in the belt of the black leather skirt that accompanies it, sets the tone for the collection: the look is resolutely elegant, but with a step of coast. This is confirmed with dresses in fine transparent knit, others in the style of a smooth leather apron, pleated skirts worn over flannel trousers or even dresses with a babydoll spirit available in lace with a sometimes rigid. We see large sequins affixed to the lining of the coats: the details are never neglected at Kim Jones. The materials are, as always with Fendi, noble and sublime, while the color palette – beige, blue, grey, white – imposes an almost minimalist elegance.
For Marco De Vincenzo, who signs here his second women’s collection for Etro, the house’s archives were essential: “ I had three weeks to imagine my first collection in 2022, there, I was able to take my time, and explore the very rich history of this family business which knew how to sublimate fabrics and prints., and give my own interpretation. » And the collection is indeed a dive into this singular universe, specific to this family business founded in 1968.
Like an archaeologist, the designer reinterprets the signature cashmere pattern on long bohemian dresses mixed with soft knit cardigans. We find the textile know-how of the house on sets of jackets and pants in thick cotton canvas, with floral or geometric prints. Woolen tartan shawls are on the models’ shoulders, accompanying long light dresses. An effective and successful collection.
Attract a younger clientele
At Emporio Armani, the line aimed at Giorgio Armani’s younger clientele, the brand’s DNA is also at the heart of the matter. Mixing the masculine-feminine skilfully, the designer offers fitted jackets worn with flowing trousers tucked into large boots. We find midnight blue velvet suits, colorful petticoats with graphic prints and, of course, a very evening wardrobe with little sequined dresses and elegant bustiers. A delicate and joyful collection, carried by the smiles of the models, something rare enough to be underlined.
For his main Giorgio Armani line, the designer invited his guests to the small theater in the basement of his personal home, a habit he has taken for several seasons. Called “powder”, this fall-winter line is inspired by make-up, both the intimate act of getting a makeover and the cosmetics themselves. The beige vestal dresses evoke powders, the pinks on the jackets or the trousers recall the blushes, the shiny blacks of the evening dresses summon the idea of a line of kohl. An elegant collection, as Monsieur Armani knows how to make them so well.
At Diesel, the atmosphere is quite different. Glenn Martens continues to play with the sulphurous codes of the denim brand created in 1978, which exploded in the 1990s-2000s. By way of welcome: 200,000 boxes of condoms that make up a gigantic mountain in the middle of the room. They will be joined by 300,000 others, which will be available in Diesel stores in April. A collaboration signed with the giant of the sector, Durex. “ Positive sexuality is an important thing. At Diesel, we like to play, but seriously! Have fun, respect each other, be safe. This is my version of “For Successful Living” (for a successful life) », explains the Belgian designer, referring to the brand’s cult slogan, launched in 1991.
Ultra-low-waisted jeans as threadbare as possible, ultra-short skirts, see-through babydoll dresses, oversized knit sweaters, bustier held up by chain straps, astonishing play of textures on coats and jackets…the look is sexy and a bit trashy, which should not displease Generation Z, fans of the 2000s.
This same generation was also the center of attention at the Gucci show. A collection imagined by the in-house studio, pending the eagerly awaited collection of the new artistic director Sabato de Sarno in September 2023. A defector from the house of Valentino, the Italian was appointed to replace Alessandro Michele in January. This transitional season is an opportunity for the Florentine house to revisit its history, from the erotic silhouettes of Tom Ford (head of Gucci from 1994 to 2004) to the more baroque ones of Alessandro Michele.
The result is an anthology of proposals making up a set, it must be admitted, a little disjointed. The avalanche of transparency on the dresses, the fishnet tights sticking out of the skirts or even a sequined “G” on the back of the models’ necks revive the sexy kitsch look of the 2000s, while the bright colors, the rhinestone coats or the feather hats evoke the more recent era of the house. Some pieces remain very successful such as these impeccable suits or these trapezoidal bags, which should allow the label to wait before the promised revival.
At Ferragamo, the revival took place as early as last season, when Maximilian Davis presented his first collection. For his second opus, the Briton explored the house’s links with Hollywood. “That’s how Ferragamo started, making shoes for the 1930s movies, then building relationships with stars like Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe in the 1950s.”
But here, the golden age of Hollywood confronts the desires of our time. The fifties are found in the loose cuts of coats and small sweaters or the rounded necklines of leather mini-dresses. Large trousers with darts or more sporty pieces such as small jackets ensure a modern dimension. Diving back into its rich heritage to extract a contemporary line is a guarantee of success for Italian fashion brands.