Moncler and the art of reinventing down

How do you reinvent yourself when you're a down jacket brand? How do you make your voice heard in the fashion world when you're specialised in single-product sportswear? 

Moncler managed to overcome this challenge via its fashion show on Tuesday night, in opening Milan Fashion Week. Its solution? A simple one: invite eight designers from different backgrounds to design pieces in down that reflect their own creative sensibility.

Moncler's collection, as created by Pierpaolo Piccioli - FashionNetwork.com ph DM

In presenting the project called 'Moncler Genius Building' or simpler 'Moncler Genius', the label set up a kind of a theme park in the grand Palazzo delle Stelline, the place that once held one of the Milan Fair's oldest pavilions, with its eight numbered "stands" numbered, covered with silver cloth, allowing only a few clusters of visitors at a time to unveil their secrets. Nothing better to prolong the pleasure and forge an impressive crowd and long queues.

"They are like eight pieces of a ghostly building with each holding one of the facets of Moncler. Across the eight collaborations, our world has notably increased, with each designer delivering their own interpretation in a very conceptual, more technical manner, and a refocusing on design," Sandro Mandrino, designer for Grenoble, Moncler's dedicated skiwear line of eight seasons, told FashionNetwork.com.

"Each of us worked on our own things, without knowing what the others were doing, all lead by CEO, Remo Ruffini, who played the orchestra chief who let us take big liberties and gave us total autonomy," added the designer who, for his new Grenoble collection, appliqué 18 different prints across various fabrics (think velvet, cotton, nylon, fur, and polyester).

The whole lot was then presented by a group of models lying on their backs in the snow; moving in a styled choreography while reflecting simultaneously onto a large mirror to look like suspended silhouettes on a snowy wall. 


The Moncler Grenoble line, designed by Sandro Mandrino - FashionNetwork.com ph DM

It was a beautiful set up in the n°1 space too, which was lead by Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director at Valentino. Here, slender supermodels stood gloved and hooded, wrapped in maxi-dresses and zipped coats with shimmering and saturated colours.

"I was inspired by the palette of Quattrocento Italian painters, from Piero della Francesca to Giotto, as well as Beato Angelico. I wanted to reinstate a certain idea of purity and authenticity in removing all types of excess," the designer told FashionNetwork.com. 

In another area, the young Irish designer Simone Rocha, and only woman in the Moncler "dream team", showed her collection surrounded by white crumpled paper mountains. Among the set walked Japanese princesses in long tulle dresses and down jackets in pearls, the straps of their bags tight at the waist and diagonal, like bandolier, adding a touch of martial arts to this half-baroque, half-gothic wardrobe.

"She is a modern woman, feminine and practical. The female voice of Moncler, "she summarised.


Simone Rocha brought a feminine, poetic touch to Moncler - FashionNetwork.com ph DM

The Japanese designer in the group proposed a very radical Moncler vision. A series of black looks came out, where the down was crafted in all sorts of forms (think quilted or braided) forming the distinct dresses by Kei Ninomiya, from brand Noir Kei Ninomiya, as well as mohair sweaters, checked shirts and down jackets. All was showcased on wooden models in a kind of glass greenhouse overlooking a wooded garden by Hiroshi Fujiwara, from Fragment.

The principle line, that of Moncler 1952, was reinterpreted by Karl Templer in vibrant colours. The Londoner Craig Green proposed futuristic constructions with black or white bibendum proportions, and Francesco Ragazzi, founder of Palm Angels, who has long been the artistic director of the brand, played the troublemakers with two bright, glass stands at the entrance of the Palazzo delle Stelline, where t-shirts were distributed.

Translated by Benjamin Fitzgerald

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