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Bare legs, new talent and vintage luxury on the catwalks of Milan

By Jesse Brouns

28 Sep 2021

Fashion

Milan Fashion Week. Image: Boss x Russell Athletic

For the first time since March last year, Milan hosted fashion week. Between 21 and 27 September, 43 physical shows were on the schedule, plus 41 events and 98 presentations, mostly for the public. The security measures were occasionally stringent, with a heavily reduced number of seats. For quite a few labels, this resulted in the barring of journalists from the Benelux collectively. Among them Versace, Etro, Ferragamo, Marni, Cavalli and Fendi.

Asian spectators were scarce, but the American guests were given extra treats. At Dolce & Gabbana, for example, Vogue heads Anna Wintour and Edward Enninful were given twice as much space on the front row as other guests. A throne, crown and sceptre treatment was on all of our minds. However, due to the smaller number of spectators, the fashion week often suffered from a lack of atmosphere.

The Teatro Armani, where the designer celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his label Emporio Armani, is already quite chilly under normal circumstances, but with half-full stands, a party atmosphere was nowhere to be found. As always, Armani used its own staff to applaud loudly during key moments. That had not changed at all.

Image: Emporio Armani

Boss went for a charming offensive

At Boss, the atmosphere was not an issue. For the presentation of its second collaboration with Russell Athletic, the German brand rented the Kennedy sports field on the outskirts of the city and installed a typical baseball game, complete with fanfare, cheerleaders, popcorn, hot dogs, an enthusiastic announcer and mascots. Models donned the easy, American sportswear of Boss and Russell, with top model Gigi Hadid in the lead. The launch of the see now buy now collection was very reminiscent of recent Tommy Hilfiger shows. This comes as no surprise, as former CEO of Tommy Hilfiger Worldwide and PVH Europe, Daniel Grieder, has been running Hugo Boss since June. High fashion history has never been made on a baseball field, nor was it intended to be, but Boss’ event was the most extravagant moment of the week.

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Image: Boss x Russell Athletic (in the bottom photo, Daniel Grieder is on the left)

Prada went for short and sexy...

Prada opted for a needlessly complicated show. Or rather, two shows, one at the Fondazione Prada in Milan and one in Shanghai - simultaneously. In Milan, live images from Shanghai were projected onto screens, and vice versa. The models wore identical outfits at the same time (two collections had been made, a major investment) and the show was closed by twin sisters, on different continents and time zones, again wearing the same outfits.

The collection was remarkably sexy by Prada standards, or perhaps more seductive. Very short skirts, often worn over even shorter shorts, corsets and boning were part of the selection, as well as leather, grunge-like jackets with nothing underneath. There was also references to couture too, with elegant dresses in double face satin, always paired with a lipstick red handbag from the nineties.

Image: Versace SS22

... as well as many other brands

Versace brought in Dua Lipa, Naomi Campbell and a group of half-naked male models, while Lipa's 'Physical' blared through the speakers. Dolce & Gabbana sprinkled glitter over oversized denim and, again, micro skirts. Missoni, where Angela Missoni handed over the torch to her former studio head Alberto Caliri, seemed to have lost it, however. The girls were too young, too skinny and often just a bit too scantily dressed.

As much as catwalks are more diverse than they used to be - fashion labels have learned that lesson - there was little room for plus-size models. Italian fashion continued to have a preference for very young girls. While at New York Fashion Week there was progress in inclusiveness, Milan’s twenty-first century conversion is yet to begin.

Image: Cavalli SS22

Quira was debut of the week

"I've been in the business for so long, I've always worked for other artistic directors, and now I felt it was time to finally express my own vision," Veronica Leoni told FashionUnited during the launch of her brand Quira, named after her grandmother. Leoni has an impressive track record. She was responsible for knitwear at Jil Sander, during Sander's own last stint at that brand. She then spent four years designing Céline's pre-collections, under the reign of Phoebe Philo.

For a few seasons now she has been designing the 2 Moncler 1952 line, part of the Moncler Genius project. Regarding that, she continued: "What I do for Moncler is completely different. There I work on commission and that's very nice. But Quira is just mine." The collection, presented with an exhibition of photographs by French photographer Camille Vivier, was particularly strong and seems perfectly suited to fans of Philo, Sander or even the Parisian Lemaire.

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Image: Quira SS22, Credits: Camille Vivier/ownership of Quira

Moncler and Gucci went vintage

Moncler went online for the new batch of Moncler Genius, the label's collection of eleven mini-collections, with activations in eleven cities. In Milan, a separate event was organised for a collaboration with luxury streetwear brand Palm Angels. A vintage boutique, The Dunes, was installed under an enormous mountain of red sand in the halls of the Spazio Maiocchi. A selection of American vintage clothing was offered for sale, and Palm Angels items hung among them (they were not for sale).

Gucci launched a new online shop the same day, Gucci Vault, where it offers vintage Gucci in addition to collections from small independent brands. In other words, luxury brands are looking for solutions to play a role in the second-hand sector, which is not only growing rapidly but is also popular, particularly with Generation Z.

Cormio brought a piece of Antwerp to Milan

Designer Jezabelle Cormio grew up in Rome, studied at the Academy of Antwerp and, for a few seasons now, has her own sustainable knitwear label in Milan. Her debut presentation, in an old knitting shop, had an underground vibe that you would sooner expect at Paris fashion week. Spectators were allowed into the shop in groups of five, where three models and three older craftswomen were knitting behind the counter, with disco lights and pounding techno.

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Image: Cormio SS22 collection, ownership of the brand

And then there was an important guest role for Gabrielle Karefa Johnson

Gabrielle Karefa Johnson was the first Black stylist to do a cover shoot for American Vogue. It was then followed by no less than five covers in a row, everyone was happy. Some of them can even be safely named as historic, such as the portrait of vice president Kamala Harris, which was made in difficult circumstances, or of the poet Amanda Gorman.

Max Mara Weekend asked Karefa Johnson to design a capsule collection, with the stylist drawing inspiration from photos from the seventies of her mother and aunts. As a major strong point, the outfits, with collages of prints and references to Bridget Riley's op art, among others, fit all kinds of women, including ladies like Karefa Johnson herself who are a bit curvier.

Image: Family Affair of Gabriella Karefa Johnson for Weekend Max Mara SS22

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.BE. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.