Just as Paris, Milan Fashion Week has announced to host a combined digital and physical event instead of its traditional week. It doesn’t come as a surprise, since Italy has been hit hard by the pandemic. However, Italy has buckled up and has been rebuilding its economy over the past weeks. In line with this, many Italian designer brands will physically show during fashion week. Check out the best of Milan Fashion Week below.
Cover photo: © Pexels
Find the entire list of participating designers here.
Best of Milan Fashion Week
It looks like phygital is the new black. Just as any other fashion week, Milan hosts both physical and digital shows. A digital show can be anything: from documentaries to fairytales and artistic, hard to understand expressions of a brand’s creative director. So far, shows have proven to be just shows. Due to the pandemic live fashion shows will remain sober and modest. However, it remains the best way to truly experience fashion. To guide you through the packed schedule, we’ve compiled a list of the best of Milan Fashion Week. Check it out below.
For her very last womenswear Fendi collection Silvia Venturini Fendi created “La Famiglia”: a series of personal photographs taken at home. Together with her grandmother’s famous lemon pesto pasta recipe they were sent to all invitees. The invite was a hint to an important conversation Fendi likes to start. It simply isn’t enough to just talk about fashion these days; she rather started a conversation about the values behind fashion. In the Fendi family the values behind clothes have always played an important role; they’ve always put meaning in what they would do. This collection consists of clothes that are all about the moment, but to be cherished and worn a lifetime.
It was clear that Fendi had delved into the archives during lockdown. We saw many references to the past, including the Karl Lagerfeld era. The latter was fond of lace and bed linen; he had an extensive collection of both. The collection formed a transition from Lagerfeld, who had been on her side for decades. When he past away last year, it wasn’t clear who would become his successor. After one and a half year, Sylvia Venturini Fendi will transfer her position to Kim Jones, who has been successful at Dior Homme and Louis Vuitton (men’s). For Fendi, though, he will be the head of womenswear, while continuing his job at Dior.
Sylvia Venturini Fendi’s last womenswear collection may mark an end to Fendi’s classic style, since Jones is known for his passion for streetwear. We can only guess what next season will look like.
In her vibrant Spring 2021 collection, Sindiso Khumalo highlights the distinction and similarities between the American Philadelphia and the eponymous South African city. They share a past full of slavery, exploitation and segregation. The LVMH Prize finalist captured her romantic collection in the flower fields of Philadelphia. A collection that was inspired by Harriet Tubman, who was born into slavery but successfully escaped and took seventy others with her. Philadelphia was the city in which the freed slaves eventually found freedom. Together with artist Shakil Solanki, Khumalo developed some prints depicting cotton and a local wildflower. They both honored Tubman reclaiming her life.
To understand the present, Khumalo explained, we have to look at the past. Past events explain the hatred black people face today. With this collection, she paid hommage to Tubman and raised awareness for today’s issues and violence against black people. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but Khumalo remains hopeful. Her next collection will be based on the life of Charlotte Maxeke, the first black woman to graduate from an American university. Hope is a common theme and these women show that the current state of the world can be changed.
Ian Griffiths did a shot in the dark when designing this collection at the start of the lockdown. While he didn’t know what the world would look like during its presentation, nor whether it would be possible to produce the collection, he started to dive into his Renaissance books. His love for painters from this area formed the starting point of his Spring/Summer 2021 collection. The brand Max Mara started right after the World War – an era in which Italy became known for its tremendous tailoring and craftsmanship. Furthermore, the Italian fashion of that time focused on making the wearer feel at her best; clothes had to make you feel the best version of yourself. That was something Griffiths kept in mind during his design process; he designed for the women who will improve the world.
We saw some drawstring pants, hinting to the prevailing costume of the past months. However, there weren’t any sweat pants at all. Griffiths gave a lead role to sleeves; big, long and over the top, referring to the Renaissance style. Overall, though, the collection was modest with great attention to detail. From the sound system we heard Italian pop star Mina sing “Ricominciare e poi Che senso ha?”: we start again, and then what’s the point? Well, Griffiths thought about the point of starting all over again, creating powerful ensembles meant for women to change the world.
Miuccia Prada’s and Raf Simons’ partnership created a lot of excitement within the fashion industry. Many couldn’t wait to see what Simons would have in store. Since the announcement, though, the collaboration has been very different than they would have expected. The pandemic made it impossible for Prada and Simons to physically work together and the limitations of number of people in one room held back the plans for a big debut runway show. After the show, editors had the chance to ask anything they wanted to the designer duo and all questions were answered via a live stream. Miuccia explained: “In a time of incredible complexity: What matters? What is meaningful? That is a question we asked ourselves. We wanted to create something that makes sense to people, something that is useful. Everything we do should allow people to live better.”
In the collection, Prada’s and Simons’ view on the label merged. It led to supersized triangle logos, long lines and birhgt colored kitten heels. Models walked the runway like they were holding on to something, tightly grasping their coats and tops in the middle. Prints of the past had a rebirth on slouchy hoodies, often combined with long skirts – the new working from home attire for many. The collaboration shows that pragmatism, creativity and inspiration should be in balance. Focusing on what truly matters is now more important than ever and Prada and Simons know how to create the right proportions.
Francesco Risso created a collection that centred people, their stories, lives and awakenings and connections. With his “MARNIFESTO” Risso created a hysterical collection, full of surprises. To him, lockdown felt oppressive. Overall he felt caged. During this period of powerlessness he created a collection made from curtains, blankets and other fabrics he had at home, dying those in his bath tub. The sense of fragility of freedom formed the epicentre of his collection. When he finished it, he send ensembles to friends living in LA, Tokyo, New York City, London, Paris and other places around the world. In a livestream his cast of non-models showed his creations from all over the world. They performed his “MARNIFESTO”: an experiment of “collective neo-humanism”. Rather than focusing on individualism, it was all about the collective. “It’s celebrating Marni not through the I but through the we,” he said. It formed unity through diversity and made individuals who were scattered around the world feel connected.
When creating this collection, Risso deconstructed old Marni archive-pieces and put them together in different ways. Coats were made out of past collections, defaced with romantic sentences he received from friends during lockdown. The collection formed a dedication to freedom the collective and self-expression, which was reinforced by the fact that the clothes were being showed on the streets of some of the world’s most important cities. It transferred the over-the-top Marni universe to the real world, providing hope for a better future.
Donatella Versace’s collections and casting keep getting better each season. During lockdown, Versace spent time on her own in Milan; the only company was her dog. As a starting point for this collection, she thought about a new beginning. After all, according to her, everyone has to make a new start after what happened – and still happens – to the world. Since a re-invention can’t take place without an initial invention, Versace took her models to staged ruins of Atlantis. It formed an ode to a world that doesn’t exist anymore; a civilization in which people erect from the sea, including models wearing sea-printed clothes based on ‘trésor de la mer’ – Gianni’s 1992 Spring collection.
Versace had a hard time to give meaning to fashion in a historical period like this. She wanted to create something disruptive, fitting the new reality we all live in. “Creatively, that meant finding a way to bring the DNA of Versace to a new reality and to people who have undergone a deep change,” she explained. This deep change was clearly visible in the models she casted; gender norms and standard sizes were revised. Inclusion, mutual support and acceptance of our differences will be at the heart of the brand from now on. “This collection has an upbeat soul and is optimistic, dreamy, positive… These are clothes that bring you joy.” – Donatella Versace.
Also read: Best of London Fashion Week