La Famiglia: the importance of family in Milan Fashion Week
All in the family in Italy, where the various clans and families all seemed united in support of their industry, even as they broke the mold when it came to presentations and shows.
The week kicked off with Moncler Genius, a series of collaborations with eight design talents – most notably Simone Rocha and Pierpaolo Piccioli. Staged inside Palazzo delle Stelline, located on the other side of the street from the Last Supper, each created their own art environment to present their ideas for out-of-this-world puffers.
The following day, over a score of designers sat down with the Mayor of Milan inside the Palazzo Reale for a celebratory lunch for 'Italiana, Italy Through the Lens of Fashion 1971–2001', an impressive retrospective on Italian ready-to-wear.
“It’s the continuation of Bellissima, which was about Italian alta moda, or haute couture, and staged in Rome. This is a vision of our post-war Ready-to-Wear when the first designers began showing their collections in Milan. It’s the two key elements in Italian fashion history, and I believe we have captured its creative heights very well,” explained Stefano Tonchi, Editor-in-Chief of W Magazine, who co-curated the exhibition with Maria Luisa Frisa.
The week climaxed with a massive Tommy Now Drive show staged on a faux speedway track inside the Fiera Milano, where designer Hilfiger’s stepson, tennis professional, Julian Ocleppo, even marched in the show.
“We are delighted see Tommy here in Milan. All foreign talents are welcome in our city. I think we’ve had a strong season, with our designers and brands thinking out of the box – like Moncler - when it comes to staging. May that long continue,” said Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera della Moda, Italian fashion’s governing body.
In between, Angela Missoni staged one of the best collections in years for the family owned knitwear specialist. A blend of Mark Rothko; haute bohemian chic, languid hippie cool and incredibly inventive knits.
Also impressing were René Caovilla, the octogenarian Venetian shoemaker who showed seductive new booties made in a remarkable combination of stretch mesh and crystals.
“It’s all about seduction and dreams. Because you cannot put a price on dreams,” smiled the ever youthful Caovilla, whose son now manages the family affair.
Another family-owned powerhouse, Max Mara, is debuting a new capsule called Trophy Day in conjunction with UK family-owned retailer Fenwick.
Fenwick, which has always had major customers among racing types, encouraged the development of a new capsule with Max Mara Weekend, based on the work of artist Richard Saja, who incorporates toile de jouy prints with arty embroidery touches.
“It all complies with Ascot’s Royal Enclosure dress regulations. Which is very handy,” said Leo Fenwick, scion of the tony British department store chain, of the 10-piece collection of ladylike dresses that includes soft bags. The capsule will retail exclusively at Fenwick for two weeks from mid-May before becoming available at all the Weekend Max Mara boutiques and online.
Other family fashion businesses like Versace – albeit today 20% corporate owned by investment vehicle Blackstone – had a powerful show. Donatella channeled 80s imagery and street and active sportswear into a fresh statement for the Medusa house.
A moment also of new investment in brands bearing fruit, notably at Sergio Rossi. The house seems to be rebounding under the management of Riccardo Sciutto, who took over the shoemaker after Kering sold the brand to Italian fund Investindustrial, belonging to Andrea C. Bonomi.
The brand seems to have taken wing since it left the corporate straitjacket, and staged a cool presentation inside a marvelous pocket-ship theatre that holds just 200 people that was designed by the same architect of La Scala.
Presented inside towers that looked like sprouting volcanic lava, the new collection featured futurist crimson sequined booties; and minimalist lace-up boots with malleable Perspex sides. Sergio Rossi has also opened a new store concept in Paris; reopened in Milan and has new stores coming in Rome, New York, China and Japan.
Though like every big family, there is the odd squabble: Giorgio Armani taking aim at Gucci’s Alessandro Michele for alleged bad taste for sending models out into an operating room catwalk with exact copies of their own heads under their arms.
Though Gucci, which refrained from any comment, was clearly thinking of its own extended family too. In the wake of the recent brutal Florida high school shootings, Gucci donated $500,000 to the March for Our Lives. It’s a corporation that knows too well, sadly, personal tragedy from mass shootings. One of its own employees was amongst the 46 people killed in the attack on the Orlando, Florida nightclub in June 2016.
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