It seems every handful of years the industry likes to play what’s been dubbed as ‘fashion musical chairs’. That is, an exodus of creative directors from the brands they devoted their careers to in favour of young blood that (fingers crossed) will breathe new life into a label with their fresh perspective. A revolving door of designers has seen many evolutions of heritage houses, with Milan having a rich history of it. The greatest example, of course, is Tom Ford when he revolutionised Gucci in the 90s with his sex-bomb aesthetic. We’ve also had Pierpaolo Piccioli keep Valentino alive with his dreamy couture and Alessandro Michele who transformed Gucci with his maximalist aesthetic that helped propel the genderless movement into the zeitgeist.
The tradition of brand revamps is alive and well among Milan's big heritage brands that have seen many new appointments in the last couple of years. While this season isn't one chock-full of debuts, it'll see how these new voices continue to push their visions at some of the nation's biggest brands. Long-running family brands Etro and Missoni have been refreshed with Italian talents who have long careers within Milan's fashion scene. Then there's Bottega and Ferragamo who have turned to international talents to reinterpret the tried and true codes that solidified their status as household names. Ahead of our live panel discussion on the future of Italian heritage later this week, we've compiled your guide to the Milan Fashion Week shows you won't want to miss this season.
Founded in 1968, Etro has long been synonymous with its signature paisley prints in psychedelic hues that have carried on from the brand’s heyday during the bohemian 70s. Well, the once family-run house presented a complete overhaul last year when the newly appointed creative director Marco de Vincenzo presented his debut collection in September. Taking inspiration from the brand’s rich history of textiles resulted in rich brocades shaped as sartorial staples like miniskirts, rompers and crop tops. Closing out the first day of MFW on Wednesday, we can't wait to see how de Vincenzo continues to reimagine the brand for a younger audience.
Speaking of a younger-audience, Maximilian Davis made waves last year when it was announced the then 27-year old would be taking the creative helm of Salvatore Ferragamo. Rebranded as FERRAGAMO, the London designer known for his slinky and sexy designs dropped out of the LVMH Prize young designer competition to take the job. The Manchester-born designer breathed new life into the brand known primarily for its accessories with his signature take on evening-wear and fetish inspired accessories. We won't be surprised to see Davis' innovative Ganici-logo heel sandals in street style pictures all week long.
Last season also saw the debut of Filippo Grazioli at Italian knit-wear brand Missoni. Coming from the school of Riccardo Tisci (Grazoli was part of design teams at both Givenchy and Burberry), the fellow Italian was tasked with revitalising the brand known for its signature rainbow zig-zag stripes. Long a go-to for sumptuous Italian-made cardigans and twinsets, for S/S 23 the newly appointed creative director reimagined the house codes for a younger (sexier) customer. Sheer, short, and body-hugging defined the collection with the rainbow zig-zag replaced with monochromatic optical stripes in magenta and electric yellows. It's a change that should have many reconsidering what the heritage brand is all about.
Since Daniel Lee revamped Bottega Veneta in 2018, it's solidified its status as one of Milan Fashion Week's unmissable events. After his unexpected departure, it's been Belgian designer Mathieu Blazy whose subversive designs have kept all industry eyes on the label known for its exceptional leatherwork. It's precisley Blazy's creative take on leather that has propelled him to become one of the industry's names to know. While he's introduced a slew of covetable bags like the Andiamo and Sardine (a tough act to follow considering Lee's portfolio of it-bags), it's been his printed leather garments made to look like flannels and denim that highlights his talent and ingeniuity.