What To Look Forward To S/S 23: Why Milan Is Winning At Fashion

by Christina Donoghue on 14 September 2022

Fashion never stops, and neither does its favourite game of musical chairs. From the rise of Glenn Martens to the hype around Maximilian Davis at Salvatore Ferragamo, we bring to you all the things you should be looking forward to this Milan S/S 23 fashion week and more.

Fashion never stops, and neither does its favourite game of musical chairs. From the rise of Glenn Martens to the hype around Maximilian Davis at Salvatore Ferragamo, we bring to you all the things you should be looking forward to this Milan S/S 23 fashion week and more.

We can all agree that there's nothing ingenious about new faces being placed at the helm of heritage brands, dazzling their way to a new found glory; the past decade or so in fashion has primarily been defined by a game of musical chairs. From witnessing Gabriela Hearst jump to Chloè, Hedi Slimane land at Celine and Demna travel up the ranks from Vetements to Balenciaga, the last few seasons have been a whirlwind to say the least. By no means is a continuous changeup of creative directors Milan specific, but it's hard to deny the city is now home to a particularly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed group of designers who are drawing in international attention at brands both old and new, the revamped and the askew.

Whether it be Francesco Risso at Marni or Glenn Martens for Diesel, Italy's fashion capital has been rumbling towards a fashion renaissance for some time, with Gen-Z set firmly in its sights. Longer-established designers Kim Jones, Donatella Versace and Alessandro Sartori have pivoted Fendi, Versace and Zegna towards the fast-growing younger luxury consumer, with the likes of Bella Hadid and Dua Lipa leading the charge on the runway.

This S/S 23 season anticipates womenswear debuts from London talent family Fashion East's Maximilian Davis at Salvatore Ferragamo, Marco de Vincenzo at Etro and Rhuigi Villaseñor at Bally, all of whom will be joining designers like Martens in disrupting the status quo. London's Matty Bovan will also make their debut on the schedule. In an era when anyone with access to the internet can be a fashion critic, stakes for the upcoming September season are undoubtedly high.

Maximilian Davis for Fashion East A/W 22

Max, Give Us Some Salvatore Ferragamore!

First, let's talk about Maximilian Davis at Salvatore Ferragamo. A surprising move? Of course - he’s one of London’s buzzing talents what with his heavy emphasis on sex and sensuality, but yet to show a solo show on his own terms outside of London talent incubator Fashion East. Ferragamo on the other hand are a leading, high-luxury Florentine brand, first established in 1927. Despite a critically acclaimed re-shuffle by designer Paul Andrew, consumers were slow to catch up and the creative director got the boot last year. Ever since ex-Burberry chief Marco Gobbetti joined the label in January, there’s been talk of the label reinventing itself once more.

Will Davis’ debut collection for the house live up to the hype his appointment has caused? We can only hope so. Having presented his last show with Fashion East for S/S 22 in September 2021 - a collection inspired by 'poolside dressing' with a sensual twist - we're wondering whether the designer will carry his sensuality across the pond to Ferragamo. The match makes sense when it comes to high-level tailoring and a well-tuned aesthetic, both at Davis' own label and the 95-year-old storied house known for its leatherwear and accessories, but with successful designers today expected to be both creative and business-smart, Gobbetti will certainly have to hold Davis' hand.

Glenn Martens' 'For Successful Living' Diesel campaign

The Holy Grail of Glenn

Fashion platform Culted stated in April that ‘2022 belongs to Glenn Martens' while GQ wrote 'Glenn Martens is the name to watch in menswear', offering a glimpse into the pressure on the 38-year-old designer to outdo himself each season. 'You're only as good as your last collection and that's an enormous pressure', John Galliano once famously said, and it's true. Martens has become somewhat of a fashion royalty with his Diesel revival - the denim brand had previously struggled to recapture its street appeal from the 1990s and early 2000s. Despite his work at Diesel being described as 'commercial-cum-chaotic’ by GQ's Jethro Turner, the popularity is undeniable. The brand's figures remained broadly flat throughout the 2010's, making it clear their 'millennium boom' was no longer, but since Martens' tenure, the label has gone from strength to strength, becoming cooler and cooler with every denim-clad look sent down the runway. Even as I write this, people around the office are gushing over 'our fav, Glenn'.

Last season marked the designer's runway debut for the brand which saw him fill a warehouse with giant sized blow up Diesel mascots and glittering models - a viral TikTok-friendly move. What will the S/S 23 show have in store? Many a trick, we're sure.

Today's creative directors (are) shifting from being a dictator of style to a lightning rod of energy, like a conductor guiding their community' - Calum Knight
Risso at work, originally published in the Financial Times. Photo © Piotr Niepsuj

It’s All Laughter and No Pain at Marni

Despite Marni's absence on the Milan schedule this year (they've already shown as part of New York Fashion Week) they're still a Milanese brand at heart and talking about the city's 'buzz', no one's more divisive than the label's rebel creative director Francesco Risso. Having been cooking up quite a storm at the OTB-owned brand for a while, his innovative visual approach of 'make-do and mend' feeds back into Marni's free-spirited stance that birthed the label in 1994. However, it's important to note that Risso hasn't saved Marni like Martens has Diesel in terms of capturing both critical and consumer acclaim. Marni had previously kept it in the family before hiring Risso in 2016, whose design strategy only adds to the brand's legacy which lies in humour, intellect and elegance. These three attributes may still be Marni signatures but Risso has interpreted them in his own distinct way, leaving previous Marni lovers less convinced. Dazed reported in May 2022 that 'there wasn’t a lot of patience for Risso to find his footing', supported by former British Vogue editor Lucinda Chambers - who has worked closely with Marni in the past - spouting in a controversial interview for Vestoj 'Marni is no more.' I'd rather listen to what Francesco Risso has to say.

And so as the unwieldy hype around Martens' Diesel only got bigger, dedicated Marni buyers seamlessly followed the irrelevant opinion of critics like Chambers, but that doesn't mean that Risso's creativity has gone unnoticed. 'You could call it a school of Marni', wrote Alexander Fury in the Financial Times. 'A collective approach, exemplified by the multi-faceted casting and multi-sensory experiences of Marni's last two fashion shows.' SHOWstudio creative director Calum Knight also noted in his live review of the brand's S/S 23 collection that Risso's 'less egocentric approach in bringing a more communal point of view fits into the changing role of today's creative directors, shifting from a dictator of style to a more of a kind of lightning rod of energy, a conductor guiding your community.' Risso has something. Whatever that something is, we're hoping it'll become more tangible as his tenure lengthens. For now, we'll just leave images of his expertly curated A Magazine Curated By in your mind. Think boisterous, think distressed, think collage, think cool; all attributes Matty Bovan bravely displays season after season with his own signature style. It's worth noting that years after presenting on the London schedule, Bovan is now off to show in Milan, supported by the ever-controversial Dolce&Gabbana. We're not saying Risso has set the precedent for Bovan's designs to flourish in Milan but it's clear-cut that the Marni maverick has helped change the city's fashion landscape, turning it from a polished, high glam, leather-loving city to a space that allows room for Bovan's debut and his fabled DIY crafty aesthetic.

The Bottega Blaze…

'Will he keep the Bottega green?' 'Will he add his own twist to the Jodi Bag?' These were the questions burdening fashion critics ahead of Matthieu Blazy's A/W 22 debut for Bottega Veneta back in February. We may not have the answers but new questions have since been posed by fashion folk; many pertaining to those so-called 'jeans' that went viral post A/W 22 (in case you haven't already caught on, they were in fact crafted from leather, not denim). Since their debut, they've made their way onto Kim Kardashian as seen on Interview magazine's front cover and have also been given their very own Instagram account thanks to fashion writer Hannah Tindle setting up a dedicated Instagram. We can only hope Blazy continues the upward jag of Bottega post Daniel Lee. In the meantime? We’ll keep asking questions.

Trussardi A/W 22

Have Trust in Trussardi

Trussardi is a heritage brand that's so interlaced into Milanese lifestyle, when Serhat Isik and Benjamin Huseby from GmbH turned up last season it rightfully caused a stir. What they produced for their debut A/W 22 collection mirrored their previous work with its sexy yet elegant appeal and confrontational yet soft undertones. More importantly, it left people wanting more - an ability fewer and fewer designers are capable of as time passes by. No, it wasn't perfect, but who's saying this collection won't be? In short, we trust in Trussardi, (if their work at GmbH is anything to go by) and so should you.

Bella Hadid for the Fendi Cruise 2023 show

Fendi's Enduring Love For Gen Z?.

Kim Jones's marketing strategy at Fendi womenswear has been one that's looked after the brand's clientele first and foremost, and it's certainly paid off, with these people flooding the front row at every show it can often feel like a guessing game of who's who. The Fendi empire relies on names and faces, and it would be a lie to assume otherwise. We’re often a little too preoccupied with looking at who’s on the front row at their shows, and although some critics feel the creativity may lack at times in terms of reinventing the fashion wheel, boy are the brains there when it comes to who these clothes are really for (teaser: it's the super rich). That's not to say Jones isn't targeting Gen-Z; the A/W 22 womenswear collection showed a rich understanding for youth's current obsession with all things archive, exploring Fendi's past with references to Karl Lagerfeld's S/S 00 collection of sheer, painterly fabrics. Further building on this, Jones has just presented a 'Baguette tribute' show in New York, celebrating 25 years of the iconic handbag (yes, our Linda did parade herself down the runway). What shall we expect next? We can't predict the future but we're sure influencers Chiara Ferragni, Caroline Daur and Leonie Hanne will take their seats on the front row again this season as Jones continues to build his army of Fendi women.

Fendi Cruise 2023


Live Panel Discussion

Panel Discussion: Unweaving Matthieu Blazy's Bottega Veneta Debut

26 February 2022
Our expert panel sits down to discuss Bottega Veneta's newly minted creative director, Matthieu Blazy. Tune in to hear what they have to say about his vision for the house.

London Star Maximilian Davis Takes On Salvatore Ferragamo

14 March 2022
Picking up on London's flourishing hub of creativity, Salvatore Ferragamo have made fashion headlines by appointing London's rising star Maximilian Davis as their new creative director.

Fashion Promises To Bite in the Big Apple This Season

07 September 2022
In the city that never sleeps, the S/S 23 womenswear designers walk a fine line between consumerism and creativity. Here's our picks of what to look forward to.
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