Milan Fashion Week set to light the fuse on an explosive program

After New York and London, the spotlight turns to Milan. "It's going to be an incredible week! In terms of runways, presentations, events and special initiatives, we have a very, very packed program", said Carlo Capasa, President of the Camera della Moda (CMNI). Indeed, judging by the numerous show overlaps, the fall/winter 2018/19 womenswear Fashion Week which is set to take over the Lombard capital from February 20 to 26, is shaping up to be quite an intense affair. 


Versace is aiming to dazzle Milan once again with an anniversary show at the Palazzo Reale - © PixelFormula

One sign of this season's singularly effervescent energy is the fact that, this time around, Milan Fashion Week will be starting on Tuesday (instead of its usual Wednesday opening) with Moncler's "Genius Building" project. The luxury down jacket brand used to organize runway shows for its premium lines Gamme Bleu and Gamme Rouge in Milan and Paris, respectively. This all ended, however, last November, when the label completely changed its creative approach, introducing a "dream team" made up of eight designers with varied portfolios, whose work will be revealed on the evening of February 20. 

On Friday, February 23, it's Versace's turn to liven up proceedings with its double anniversary: it is 40 years since the foundation of the house, Gianni Versace having presented his very first collection in 1978, and 20 years since his sister, Donatella, took over as Creative Director. To mark the occasion, the label's runway will take place in the heart of Milan's historic center, in the prestigious Palazzo Reale. 

The week is also punctuated by a handful of other anniversaries, starting with the 60th anniversary of the Camera della Moda, which will be celebrated with the exhibition "Italiana. L'Italia vista dalla moda 1971-2001", exploring three decades of Italian history through fashion. Elsewhere, for its 50th anniversary, Etro has planned a special show for this Friday, while, along with its runway, Mila Schön has organized a grand party for its 60th anniversary on Saturday.  

Another highly anticipated moment comes in the shape of Tommy Hilfiger's mega-show, slated for Sunday night (February 25). After London, Los Angeles and New York, the American designer will present the fourth phase of his "Tommy x Gigi" collaboration with model Gigi Hadid. According to rumors, some 5,000 people have been invited to the event. 

In total, Milan Fashion Week will host 155 collections with 64 official runway shows (61 not counting the double shows), compared to the 159 collections and 63 official runways last September (61 not counting the double shows). The program also contains another 91 presentations and 28 events, along with the shows included as part of the events schedule, such as Vien's. On top of this, there are the various off-calendar runways, including Dolce & Gabbana's on Sunday, February 25, as well as those of Roccobarocco, John Richmond and Elisabetta Franchi. The show from Chinese brands Foor and Xuebao, organized as part of the Fashion Haining project, which promotes the Chinese city's fur and leather industries, also falls into this category. 

Faced with growing demand, Fashion Week organizers have had some difficulty in satisfying everybody, even without last-minute changes, such as Prada pushing its show back from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on February 22, in order to better prepare for the event which will take place at its warehouse, rather than its usual venue: the brand's HQ at the other end of the city. As a result, Moschino's show, which was planned for the same Thursday evening at 8 p.m., moved to Wednesday, setting off a chain reaction.

Label Grinko has decided to opt for a special event on Friday 23 February at 1.15 pm at the Palazzina Appiani, in order to engage on the issue of violence against women.


Christian Pellizzari makes his first appearance on Milan's womenswear calendar - © PixelFormula

For the aforementioned reasons, among others, no fewer than seven names no longer feature on this season's program. While Francesco Scognamiglio preferred to celebrate his house's 20th anniversay in Rome during the Italian capital's couture week, AltaRoma, Bottega Veneta chose to show its collection in New York to commemorate the opening of the largest of the brand's stores in the world in the city, and Fausto Puglisi has opted for a presentation this time around. Byblos and Aquilano.Rimondi are also missing, along with Korean label The-Sirius and Milanese brand Ssheena, founded by Sabrina Mandelli, which both debuted on the catwalk last September.

Making up for these eight defections are eight newcomers or returning brands, starting with Emporio Armani which reappears on the Milan program, having shown in London last September to celebrate its renovated Mayfair boutique. Emilio Pucci is back too – after experimenting with the presentation format last season, following the departure of Creative Director Massimo Giorgetti – and is joined by Philosophy, which also returns from showing off calendar. 

Among the new names, and aside from Moncler and Tommy Hilfiger, three new brands are making their debuts on the official Milano Moda Donna calendar: Francesca Liberatore, who showed in New York until now, Erik Cavallini and Christian Pellizzari.

Erika Cavallini founded her eponymous label in 2009 and describes its collections as "semi-couture". The brand, which has a boutique in Milan's luxury Fashion Quadrangle, has shown off calendar since February 2015. February 22 will mark its first steps into the big leagues. 

Finally, for thirty-something designer Christian Pellizzari, this show isn't really a debut, as he has been showing in Milan during men's Fashion Week for three years, and also began showing his womenswear collections there a few seasons ago. The designer, a native of Treviso in the Veneto region, launched his menswear brand in 2011, expanding with his first womenswear line two years later. He made his runway debut in June 2014, when he was invited by Giorgio Armani to show in the label's theater. Appearing for the first time at Milan's womenswear Fashion Week this February, his coed show will take place on Thursday.  

Translated by Robin Driver

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