After a subdued
‘Interest in the Milano Fashion Week is growing all the time, and this is reflected in the variety of the projects that we are about to stage,’ says Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI), which organises the event. ‘We are aware of the uncertainties that the global social and economic scene presents, and it is in these very times that fashion is summoned to give a message of confidence and positivity.’
Here, Wallpaper* reports from Milan Fashion Week S/S 2023, as it happens.
The best of Milan Fashion Week S/S 2023
Sunday 25 September
‘The essence is a certain purity and the glimmer of gold,’ came the introduction to
The historic Teatro Lirico provided the backdrop for Rocco Iannone’s third outing at Ferrari, the Italian designer continuing to evolve and define the automotive heavyweight’s still-young fashion label. While previous seasons have seen Iannone stick closely to script with designs linked to the Ferrari’s racing heritage – belts like car seatbelts, fabrications inspired by car interiors, versions of pitstop overalls – this season he looked towards what he called the ‘human element in the legendary history… the visions, ambitions and emotions that revolve around the Prancing Horse’. As such, Iannone had collected photographs of various movie stars and musicians alongside Ferrari
Saturday 24 September
Looking down from a terrace high above Milan’s Piazza del Duomo, an endless sea of bodies clad in white looks by
Matthieu Blazy said that his sophomore collection for
This line of thinking permeated Blazy’s collection, the Belgian designer noting a desire to move between the ‘archetypal and the individual’. ‘I wanted to design not just for one woman or one man, but for women and men,’ he said, instead conjuring an eclectic cast of individual characters which streamed out at speed (Blazy also noted he wanted the presentation to have a feeling of ‘movement, agency, sensuality and life’; the result was something akin to looking out at a busy city street from the seat of a café). It made for an expansive offering – there was something generous about the collection’s breadth – spanning plaid shirts and denim jeans, bourgeois tailoring and overcoats, crystal and tassel embellished dresses, and of course an array of highly covetable accessories.
But Blazy also noted a ‘discreet perversion’ which lingers beyond the collection’s surface – that flannel shirt might actually be crafted from nubuck leather, a fur coat from mock fox, printed on goat leather. It speaks something of his understanding of the strange, near-fetishistic desire one can have for an item of clothing – here heightened by extraordinary and unexpected feats of craft. For Blazy, it is the relationship between maker and wearer which is at the heart of his vision for
Dolce & Gabbana
The reality star and entrepreneur Kim Kardashian has been collecting
Expectations were high for 27-year-old British designer Maximillian Davis’ first collection for Florentine house Ferragamo, which was prefaced earlier in the week with a redesigned logo by legendary graphic designer Peter Saville – black on a red backdrop, colours Davis has been drawn to in his short career so far – and the drop of ‘Salvatore’ from the name. Any doubts that the young designer would not be up to the task were quickly dispelled with an sleek, elevated offering which tended towards minimalism and drew a distinct link between the past and present of the house – notably, in his evocation of Hollywood, where the house’s eponymous shoemaker began his own career in the 1920s.
‘I wanted to pay tribute to Salvatore’s start by bringing in the culture of Hollywood – but new Hollywood. Its ease and sensuality; its sunset and sunrise,’ the designer said of the collection, which drew inspiration from artist Rachel Harrison’s ‘Sunset Series’. Spanning both mens and womenswear, this encompassed layers of elegant tailoring – the opening looks were entirely in beige, from trench to blazer to shirt and tie – while a series of glimmering red looks paid ode to a pair of red crystal shoes the house founder created for Marilyn Monroe. Semi-sheer dresses hung off the shoulder, inspired by what the designer called ‘the purity of Florentine drape’, while notes of the subversion channelled at his eponymous label arrived in sliced away leather mini shorts (for men and women), low-slung waistlines, and silhouettes sliced to the navel.
As for accessories – Ferragamo is an accessories house at heart, after all – Davis proved particularly adept at what was for him a new discipline. A series of almost-flat handbags proved a particular highlight, crafted from smooth sculpted leather, as were cut-out leather and suede tote bags. A more classic holdall was inspired by the house’s existing Wanda bag, first created in 1988. As for shoes, a circular heel, in reference to the house’s Gancini motif, provided a moment of play. ‘It was about looking into the archive and establishing what could be redefined to become relevant for today,’ said Davis of this opening gambit, a clear-headed start from a designer who already looks settled in.
Despite the drizzle, Lucie and Luke Meier went ahead with their al fresco runway presentation, its backdrop a verdant garden housed in an open-to-the-elements grey box at the edge of Milan (albeit with the necessary addition of black umbrellas which accompanied each of the model’s looks). A cross-gender offering, the Meiers called it a collection of ‘ease, lightness, smooth lines, elongated silhouettes’ which had a heavy focus on tailoring, with numerous plays on oversized suiting (a blazer might have its sleeve removed, trousers replaced by a kilt). But it was best when the designers let loose towards the end of the collection – unruly glimmering tassels emerged from beneath a clean-lined tabard, mirrored bubbles were stitched onto an otherwise precise black top. Part of a collection which paid homage to the ‘new and different world’ of America’s West Coast, these looks were their take on Hollywood dress – a striking fusion of ‘sartorial glamour, romanticism and realism’.
There was something refreshing in the lack of ceremony around Karl Templer’s latest collection for
Friday 23 September
A typically high-octane outing by Donatella
Halfway through Gucci’s latest collection a vast central wall rose up to reveal that two identical fashion shows had been taking place at the same time. Identical down to the models, who were each a pair of twins, a spectacle of breathtaking proportion – in total there were 68 sets of twins who walked the show – which paid ode to designer Alessandro Michele’s mother, who was a twin herself. ‘I am a son of two mothers: mum Eralda and mum Giuliana. They were magically mirrored. One multiplied the other. That was my world, perfectly double and doubled,’ he wrote in a letter which accompanied the show.
But the gesture was also an exploration of reproduction and repetition; Michele noted he was fascinated by the idea that even two identical garments, on two identical bodies, can still appear different in often inexplicable ways. ‘The effect is alienating and ambiguous. Almost a rift in the idea of identity,’ he wrote. ‘And then, the revelation: the same clothes emanate different qualities on seemingly identical bodies.’ Or, as Marianne Faithfull intoned as part of the collection’s soaring soundtrack: ‘alike, but not alike’.
The collection itself once again showed Michele’s ability to bring disparate elements into unexpected unity – from Gremlins, printed on dresses or stuffed into handbags (the 1980s movie monsters are themselves able to duplicate identically) to suspender trousers and shimmering sequined tailoring. Divide lifted, each pair of twins held hands for a final walk; reunited, it was a moving expression of togetherness. Two individuals, the same, but different – an apt metaphor for what it means to be part of Michele’s Gucci universe.
‘Bouba/Kiki’ was the title given to Sportmax’s latest collection, its name in reference to a series of psychological experiments begun by Wolfgang Köhler in 1929 – and continued by various researchers since – in which participants were asked to attribute words and sound to certain shapes (in one, most people selected the word ‘bouba’ for the curvier, rounder shapes, and ‘kiki’ for the sharper, spiker ones). It made for an eccentric, experimental offering – ‘an affirmation of otherness, resistant to conformism, whilst on a continuous quest for the extreme,’ as Sportmax described – comprising juxtapositions of fabric and print with softly sculptural silhouettes. A riff on nostalgia came in bustled skirts and nipped-waisted blazers, modernised in contemporary fabrications – like one flared skirt in high shine black, a vivid flash of lime green appearing from its underside as the model walked.
The vast Pirelli Hangarbicocca – a former industrial plant for the tire manufacturer, now a contemporary art institution – provided a dramatic backdrop for
Thursday 22 September
A feeling of eclecticism has permeated
A vast rendering of a house in black paper – an inversion of the crisp white set which backdropped Prada’s menswear collection in June – set an unsettling tone for Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons’ latest collection, which they titled ‘Touch of Crude’. The mise-en-scène was a collaboration with filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn; through cut-out windows and tears in the paper played a series of short films he had created for the occasion, each a play on the domestic (a woman removing her shoes, the underside of a mattress, the textures of carpet and sofas) – as if glimpsing something which shouldn’t be seen. ‘Although the collaboration is around the show, rather than the collection, we have been inspired by the collaboration, by his perspective on Prada,’ said Simons in a prepared statement. ‘There’s a mirror of cinema in the collection, of witnessing fragments of a larger whole. Different bodies of work, within a single body of work – shifting between disparate form languages.’
Indeed, there was a cinematic feel to the collection itself – afterwards, several attendees mentioned the potential inspiration of 1968 psychodrama Rosemary’s Baby in both the clothing and ominous mood – which the house described as ‘a sequence of realities, reflections, refractions, observations’. The designers noted a feeling of paradox in the collection: ‘raw and the sensual, between delicacy and roughness, an emulsification of contrasts’, figuring in the clothing in archetypically ladylike garments – a silk slip dress, a knitted two set, a nightgown – purposely torn across the hem, or embedded with creases, ‘like memories of beauty embedded in cloth’ (such moments also reflect the feeling of ‘crudeness’ referenced in the collection’s title). Other garments opposed a reductionist approach to design and silhouette with moments of decoration; notably, a series of otherwise minimal knitwear decorated with fabric flowers. ‘Reality translates to humanity. It is reflected through a sense of the hand, a touch of the crude, a rawness that evokes a fragility,’ read the collection notes.
Adds Miuccia Prada: ‘The clothes are about simplicity, with no unnecessary complication. Politically, theoretically, aesthetically, we are drawn to these notions again and again. The idea of directness. Yet with this collection it was combined with the idea of decoration, beauty, how to decorate and embellish, but remain simple.’
In previous seasons, Ian Griffiths has noted what he calls ‘Max Mara pantheon of strong women’, figures from history, spanning intellectual and creative realms, who inspire his feminist approach to design. For the spring/summer season, he headed on a journey to the south in France – and back in time – to the early 20th century, when from April to September ‘bohemians flocked to the riviera’. Among them, revolutionary women of the day Dora Maar, Dorothy Parker, Josephine Baker, Isadora Duncan and, notably for Griffiths, Renée Perle, who of the then-newfound Riviera style he says ‘nobody wore it better’ (wide-brimmed sun hats, languid sailor trousers, backless tank tops and the like). Here, an imagined meeting between Perle and modernist architect Eileen Gray – perhaps best known for her
A continuation of their menswear show in June, Dean and Dan Caten looked once again to the archetype of the surfer, a figure of freedom and escape which has proved a longtime inspiration for the Canadian designers (the pair noted backstage that they surf themselves). ‘Where the waves roll in, the sunlight shimmers on a wardrobe that’s found its chill beachside,’ read the accompanying notes, setting the scene for a carefree collection where an unabashed collage of colour and print met a feeling of lightness in transparent and semi-sheer layers. A smattering of feminine embellishments – sequins, ruffles, cut-outs reminiscent of broderie anglaise – completed the collection, which in its airy eclecticism felt like a fresh shift in direction for the Milanese stalwarts.
Wednesday 21 September
‘It’s about continuity,’ Kim Jones said of his S/S 2023 collection, which looked back to the turn of the millennium and forebear
Set to a euphoric rave-inspired soundtrack, these current Y2K fixations emerged in a collection that the designer described as ‘colliding minimalist ease and pop-infused eclectism’. Of the former, a series of elegant silk cargo pants, tabard-style shirts, simple ribbed knits and racer-back vests, of the latter, an enlivening palette, from bubblegum pink to vivid shades of green, lending the collection a light, playful air (as did the accessories – one necklace was adorned with a tiny miniature handbag; another handbag was made to resemble a gift wrapped in red ribbon). Such oppositions are now a hallmark of Jones’ tenure, the designer noting that at
Despite being relatively young by Milanese standards, Del Core – the eponymous 2020-founded label of Daniel Del Core, previously an in-house designer at Gucci – has nonetheless found a groove creating dressed-up garments defined by a steadfast focus on craft (gowns are often festooned with sequins and surface embellishment, while his ‘Made in Italy’ credentials are at the centre of the label). Held in an industrial warehouse on Milan’s Navigli canal, the starkness of the surroundings threw the collection into relief: pinched-waist tailoring, diaphanous sheer gowns, a November Rain-style asymmetric skirt, which descended into bold folds of yellow fabric. Del Core said he was inspired by the idea of ‘liquidity’ – a ‘constantly changing state’, where ‘shapes flow effortlessly onto the body’ and ‘colours mutate’. Case in point: the collection’s dramatic final look, a vivid gown with a pannier waist, decorated with thousands of sequins, which shimmered and shifted in the runway’s light.
The agonies and ecstasies of love provided the inspiration behind the latest collection from Alessandro Dell’Acqua at No 21, who hosted this season’s show against the background of a previously industrial warehouse, hung for the occasion with glittering chandeliers. Titling the collection ‘The Lovers’, Dell’Acqua noted he wanted to encapsulate the swinging emotions one feels when in love, here refracted through a feeling of nostalgic glamour – two sets, dresses overlaid with lace, evening gloves, crystal jewellery – albeit dishevelled, with garments slipping off the shoulder or purposely scrunched (models’ bodies and faces were also spritzed with droplets of water to evoke rain, or tears). It was a typically commanding, and indeed cinematic, vision from veteran designer Dell’Acqua, who remains one of the highlights of the Milanese schedule.