When it comes to events such as fashion week travel is essential, whether that be frantically zig-zagging across your home turf or heading further afield. Or is it? Just before we went into a world-wide lockdown last March, The Business of Fashion posed the question: 'Does the fashion industry need to travel as much as it does?' Racking up air miles in exchange to see a couple of shows in a different city was up for debate long before the pandemic swept through the fashion capitals. The questions of 'when will life be normal' and 'what will the new normal look like' remain at the forefront of everyone's minds. It can feel as though we are up against impossible odds with a pandemic which never seems to surrender; us Brits are in our third national lockdown, and things aren't looking much better in Italy, where Milan Fashion Week Men's is due to go ahead this Friday. Despite everything, fashion has proven it's ability to change in the face of adversity - in June 2020, London Fashion Week was the first to announce it would go fully digital (and co-ed), and come Friday, the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana has announced that the week will be conjoined with this year's edition of Fashion Film Festival Milano, launched by Costanza Etro six years ago.
Kicking off with Ermenegildo Zegna scheduled for 15:00 C.E.T on Friday 15 January, the schedule is looking relatively empty compared to previous seasons (Giorgio Armani and Dsquared2 are nowhere to be seen), but then again we're living in a time where anything could happen, so keep your eyes peeled for late additions. Many of the houses and designers showing have decided to move with the times, adopting a digital approach; that being said, there are still a few names (Fendi and Etro) deciding to stage a physical event, and it will be interesting to see how these bigger brands can make live streaming a runway show that bit more interesting this time around. This means that Milan Fashion Week Men's won't be physical or digital but a hybrid of the two: phygital.
This term isn't entirely new for fashion followers as it has been applied to previous fashion weeks following the pandemic. British Vogue even dubbed it as 'the official word of the September shows'. A phygital event gives designers free reign to present their collection however they see fit. A fashion film, a documentary, a music video, a podcast, or even an experiment in virtual and augmented reality all fit the phygital guidelines. Last season, the brands who embraced new mediums largely came out best, take the GCDS runway show which took place within an augmented reality, or Jeremy Scott's Moschino puppet show for instance. It's safe to say that how people choose to show their collections during a pandemic, is almost more important than the clothes.
With all that in mind, and despite the event being slightly different to normal because of the restricted travel ban en masse, there's still a lot to look forward to; here are some of the events on the Milan schedule which the SHOWstudio team think you should get excited about.
As you may already know, the upcoming season means we'll finally see what you get when you put Raf Simons and Miucci Prada together on a menswear collection. Raf Simons was announced as the co-creative director of Prada menswear and womenswear almost a year ago back in February 2020, essentially meaning that the pair now work as a fashion double-act. With only the S/S 21 womenswear show to go off, where the Miuccia-isms and Raf-isms slotted as easily together as they could be taken apart (androgynous, slim-line silhouettes were peppered with graphic screen prints), many are hoping that this menswear collection might be a more homogenous offering. One thing's for certain: Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada both have huge, almost cult-like followings, so whatever Sunday's digital show will bring, it's sure to usher in a big reaction.
Fendi is one of the few fashion houses (alongside Etro) at Milan Fashion Week Men's showing an entirely physical event. This shouldn't come as a surprise considering they also stayed true to offering their last collection in real-time with an audience last September (social distancing measures in place of course). The S/S 21 show, recently lensed by Nick Knight for the brand's latest campaign, featured surreal billowing curtains and was inspired by the childlike state of wonder Silvia Venturini Fendi found herself reverting to during lockdown. It will be interesting to see which direction Fendi takes this season; Fendi menswear collections are always largely inspired by places and events personal to the designer, and we can't wait to see where her mind has been since we last saw her. Stay tuned for SHOWstudio's live panel discussion this Sunday at 16:00 GMT, where fashion industry experts will be discussing the key takeaways from the collection.
A-COLD-WALL* is adopting the digital approach for A/W 21 and will definitely be worth logging on for if last season is anything to go by. For S/S 21, the brand unveiled a film, My Brother’s Keeper by Pierre Debusschere, complete with poetry read out by activist and poet Wilson Oryema. Having tackled the medium of fashion film, we're eager to see where Samuel Ross chooses to go next. This will also be the third time the London brand will show in Milan, reflecting a shift as Samuel Ross' label matures and nurtures a focus on luxe fabrications rather than branding and hype; the collections are now made entirely in Italy, with Ross now in partnership with Stefano Martinetto’s Italian production powerhouse Tomorrow Ltd. With a cult following, Ross will be setting out to impress. So, naturally, only good things are to be expected…
Lagos Space Programme
Out of all the new additions to the schedule this season, we predict Nigerian label Lagos Space Programme is set to get tongues wagging. The label will showcase Nigeria's artisanal excellence via Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana and their official website. Behind L.S.P. is the creative force Adeju Thompson, who has already begun causing a gentle stir with their genderless line in Lagos, Nigeria. What's most intriguing is the designer's limitless references that range from Yohji Yamamoto to the New Romantics, all filtered through what the designer describes as his own 'Nigerian lens'. Intriguing and exciting to say the least.