Milan Women’s Fashion Week about to start, introducing longer, more intense programme
After New York and London, it is almost time for Milan to kick off its hectic fashion week programme. The fashion week for the women's Spring/Summer 2019 collections, which will take place over the Italian fashion capital from Tuesday September 18 to Monday 24, will last a day longer than the previous season. The extra day, Tuesday, will be chiefly dedicated to special events, while the number of catwalk shows will be roughly the same as in February.
Despite 13 withdrawals, including the notable absence of Gucci, which chose to show in Paris, and of Tommy Hilfiger, which showed only once in Milan, last winter, the women’s calendar has nevertheless been bolstered by eight new names - Agnona, Fila, A.F. Vandevorst, GCDS, Act n°1, Ultràchic, Chika Kisada and Tiziano Guardini – and by three major come-backs: Byblos, which is relaunching under new management, Iceberg, back from London, and Philipp Plein, returning to Milan after a few seasons in New York.
Last winter, the Milan Fashion Week staged an early curtain-raiser, with a special presentation by Moncler on the evening before the start of the week proper. This season, it will feature a full extra day, Tuesday, packed with special events. Beginning with the very first Milanese catwalk show by Curiel Couture, a local couture house which has been rejuvenated since being bought in 2016 by Chinese group Redstone. Also eagerly awaited is the show by Luisa Spagnoli, an Italian ready-to-wear label founded in 1928 in Perugia, celebrating its 90th anniversary as well as its catwalk debut.
On Tuesday, historic Italian sportswear label Fila will enter the fashion arena with a retrospective exhibition at Milan’s Triennale. Fila will then make its catwalk debut on Sunday September 23, showing its first womenswear collection designed by young stylists Antonino Ingrasciotta and Joseph Graesel.
From the following day, Wednesday, the traditional calendar schedule begins, introducing 165 collections and 59 official catwalk shows in total, compared to 156 collections and 61 shows last February. In addition, the Milan Fashion Week will feature 82 presentations and 44 special events. Not to mention the plethora of off-calendar shows, among them Dolce & Gabbana on Sunday 23, Maryling, Giada, Elisabetta Franchi, Raffaela D’Angelo and the shows by Chinese labels Ellassay and Yinger Group, part of the Fashion Shenzhen project.
Two eagerly anticipated events will be the September 22 show by Flemish label A.F. Vandevorst, which has left Paris to fête its 20th anniversary in Milan this season, and the show-event by Emporio Armani. Giorgio Armani’s young label gave last January’s menswear week a miss, and will reveal its new men’s and women's collections together in one single event during this fashion week. The show will be staged on the evening of Thursday 20 inside a huge hangar at Milan Linate airport, with over 2,000 guests. Jil Sander too will present its new collection inside an unusual venue, a disused factory for the production of Milan’s traditional baked cake, the panettone.
Another highlight will be the second edition of the Green Carpet Fashion Awards Italia, the Oscars for eco-sustainable fashion introduced last year by the Italian Fashion Chamber (CNMI), in collaboration with the Eco-Age agency and backed by the Italian government. The awards ceremony will be held on Sunday 23, with a gala evening at the La Scala opera house featuring the crème de la crème of the Italian fashion industry.
Other events include the White Milano and Super trade shows, a plethora of fashion-themed happenings, like the Milano XL project - back with six cube-like installations across the city to celebrate made-in-Italy style - as well as a series of exhibitions, notably Etro’s ‘Generation Paisley’ and the Sarah Moon exhibition at the Armani Silos museum, not to mention the Milan Fashion Film Festival.
Alongside big names like Prada, Fendi, Moschino, Versace, Roberto Cavalli and Ferragamo, this edition of the Milan Fashion Week will also be the occasion to discover a number of new talents. For example, emerging label Act n°1, winner of the ‘Who Is On Next?’ competition in 2017, already distributed by some 40 retailers. Act n°1 is based in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and was founded in 2016 by Luca Lin, the son of Chinese immigrants, and Galib Gassanov, an Azerbaijani who spent his youth in Georgia. Its collections are distinctive for the cultural mix reflected in the designers’ different roots.
Another award-winning stylist is Tiziano Guardini, the emerging designer recognised at last year’s Green Carpet Fashion Awards. Rome-born Guardini defines himself as an ‘eco-couturier’, and his hyper-feminine fashion is a hymn to women and nature. An interesting name to look out for is Chika Kisada from Japan. Formerly a ballet dancer, Kisada branched out into fashion, inspired by the world of ballet and the human body’s motion and movements, shaping a new womenswear aesthetic. Then there is emerging streetwear label GCDS, which featured for two seasons on the Milan menswear calendar, and will now make its debut in the women's week.
Two debut shows that are worth a peek are those of Agnona and Ultràchic, two labels that are already established on the market. Agnona was founded in 1953 and is now owned by Ermenegildo Zegna. It is enjoying a new lease of life since 2015, when it was entrusted to Anglo-American creative director Simon Holloway. Ultràchic was launched in 2006 by Creative Director Diego Dossola and businesswoman Viola Baragiola, and has been successful commercially, also thanks to its store in the heart of Milan.
Several emerging and more established labels which featured on the Milanese calendar in recent seasons have instead dropped out. In the current, volatile economic climate, it is often difficult to fund a catwalk show, and strategies and formats sometimes change. As a result, Albino Teodoro, Lucio Vanotti, Vionnet, Emilio Pucci and Au Jour le Jour moved over to the presentation calendar this season, while Christian Pellizzari, Trussardi and Angel Chen are off both the show and presentation calendars.
The same for Piccione.Piccione, which is reorganising, Mila Schön, now without its creative director Alessandro De Benedetti, who left after five years to relaunch his own label, and Krizia. The latter, a signature name on the Italian fashion scene in the 1980s and 90s, was acquired by Chinese group Marisfrolg Fashion in 2014, and is being restructured.
At the very end of the Milanese week, on Monday September 24, it will be the turn of a last new name to feature in the event programme: it is Chinese label Jessie, led by Italian designer Federico Piaggi, who notably worked for Gianfranco Ferré. For Jessie, the Milan event will be its first international showcase.
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