Milan fashion week was a city of contrasts. There were debuts at Salvatore Ferragamo, Missoni, Bally and Etro, a seventy year anniversary at Moncler, and a sophomore landing at Bottega Veneta.
At Ferragamo, the ‘Salvatore’ was dropped in favour of a more contemporary, if familiar logotype, under incoming designer Maximillian Davis. Shown on the grandest of scales in a vast 17th century building’s courtyard, it felt more like a changing of the guard than welcoming visitors to a new house, where connection and emotion in cozy atmospheres are easier to establish. There was a solid focus on novel accessories – Ferragamo is a shoe brand after all – whereas the fashion direction might need a little finetuning. Sharp contrasts between tailoring and suiting versus tiny leather hotpants and cropped leather bikers is too great a leap. The multiple personas may become obvious once a new design vision has settled and the codes are cemented. As such, Ferragamo’s Instagram was wiped of its history, paving the way to a new future.
At Moncler, the traditional fashion show wouldn’t do for the momentous occasion of a 70th anniversary. Founded in 1952, the outerwear giant took over Milan’s Piazza del Duomo for an extraordinary performance, featuring a cast of 1952 models, singers, dancers and performers, wearing identical iterations of its Maya jacket, a design the company said “bridges its origins and future.” Dubbed the ‘Extraordinary Expedition,” similar events will be hosted in cities across the globe.
Bottega Veneta was undoubtedly the star of the week, with Matthieu Blazy’s collection keeping the momentum of desire as high as it has ever been. Opening with a similar look to his debut, shirting was worn unbuttoned over billowing trousers. Were they chinos? Jeans? Wool? Was it flannel? A cotton t-shirt? No, it was all leather. Leather of the supplest kind with extraordinary depth of colour, highlighting the craftsmanship and pared-down ethos that lies at the heart of the Bottega brand.
Not that this collection was devoid of frills, as there was plenty that required a second take: a dress with hand-sewn fringing woven into the fabric that ruffled to the model’s moving silhouette; the cut of a collar and lapel on a trench coat with an extra long belt that enveloped just so; the technical prowess of knitted jacquard dresses. This was luxury at its finest, without logos, without artifice, but with signifiers that those ‘in the know’ recognise and appreciate.
Guests sat on colourful chairs designed by Italian artist and architect Gaetano Pesce, who is based in New York. Blazy told Vogue the idea was to create the world in a small room. Yet there was nothing small about this collection, which refreshingly eschewed red carpet looks for real clothes.
By the sharpest of contrasts, Dolce & Gabbana, a House known more for its high octane approach to fashion than paring down, enlisted Kim Kardashian to co-curate its spring summer 2023 collection. It was challenging to see the authenticity through the veil of commerciality, which delivered the usual celebrity assets of Ms Kardashian in multiple head-to-toe looks, photographed and immediately distributed on social media. There was the glittering full-length gown at the show’s finale, the silver corset dress worn at the after party, the leopard print ensemble that trailed the floor behind her the following day. It was style over substance and a pairing up that lacked authenticity, but no doubt generated the eyeballs it intended to see.