Nostalgia, new beginnings, and novelty: Milan Fashion Week’s renaissance

An epicenter for Italian luxury behemoths, it’s customary for Milan Fashion Week (MFW) to spark conversation across the digital terrain, thanks to the attendance of frequent fixtures such as Fendi and Prada. 

Alongside the major maisons, this season, Ferragamo and Bottega Veneta lived up to their reputations as maestros of subversive chic, Versace presented a 1960s bubblegum reboot, and Diesel served up a reimagined palette under Martens’ vision, while independent mavericks Coperni and Avavav also dished up their own take on the zeitgeist.

Since late last year, fashion’s game of musical chairs has sparked industry discussion. Whereas London and New York were largely unaffected, Milan was the one fashion week showcase that was impacted by the upheavals. 

Yet, even with the absence of Tom Ford at Tom Ford and Jeremy Scott’s retirement from Moschino, plus a major creative director reshuffle at Gucci, the calendar still yielded the cream of the fashion crop.

For Spring/Summer 2024, quiet luxury reigns supreme, with brands taking a more hushed approach and letting the clothes speak for themselves. New kid on the block Sunnei’s score-card showcase was a hit, while ‘sex sells’ seemed to be the maxim on every major maison’s moodboard during the star-studded weekend. 

Fendi Spring Summer 2024 showcase. Photo: Yahoo News

Kim Jones: Fendi’s comeback kid 

This season marked the beginning of a comeback for Kim Jones, whose tenure as artistic director at LVMH legacy brand Fendi’s womenswear division has been hit-and-miss since his appointment in 2020. 

Models sported block-toned, origami-fold dresses, alongside tailored casualwear, and intarsia knits – each said to be inspired by the women Jones sees on the streets of Rome. 

Fans and fashion critics alike praised the creative for finally understanding the Fendi woman. After relying heavily on accessories, such as its iconic Baguette silhouette, to propel sales, Fendi’s clothes are now doing the talking. 

Prada Spring Summer 2024 showcase. Photo: Designboom

Prada oozed utilitarian sexiness 

Slippery, slimy and squelchy are the three words that best describe Prada’s art direction. Slime oozed from the ceilings – as was the case at its Fall/Winter 2023 collection. 

As for the clothes, the dream team of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons rarely miss. The duo delivered diaphanous, draped dresses that fluttered behind models as they walked, as well as grommet-adorned leather skirts and shredded, streamer-like fringing. Prada-isms appeared aplenty, subverting traditional office wear (think cardigans and pleated trousers), which the brand has become synonymous for. 

Accessories-wise, Prada looked back to 1913, when Miuccia Prada’s grandfather founded the iconic label, to create freakishly enchanting hand-carved clasps for the handbags.

Moschino Spring Summer 2024 showcase. Photo: Highxtar

In Scott’s absence, Moschino turns to stylists

To mark the brand’s 40th anniversary, Moschino’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection was created by four stylists, ​​Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, Lucia Liu, and Katie Grand, who offered up their own interpretations of the house’s legacy following former-creative director Jeremy Scott’s shock retirement earlier this year. 

While online spectators branded the collection “unhinged” (when does a Moschino show not teeter on the absurd?), it was, unsurprisingly, praised for its impeccable styling. 

Beyond the clothes, the show itself caught the attention of social media users. Amid the sea of stone-faced stompers typically seen on today’s catwalk, Moschino opted to turn back to the 1990s by encouraging its runway models to let their personalities shine through. A clip of Sudanese model Nyawurh Chuol’s power walk rapidly went viral following the show, gathering more than 10.5 million views on X (formerly Twitter). 

Tom Ford Spring Summer 2024 showcase. Photo: JTDapper Fashion Week

Tom Ford gets déjà vu

What is Tom Ford without Tom Ford? After the brand’s founder and creative director parted ways with the house earlier this year, his successor and accomplice Peter Hawkings thinks he has the answer. 

With big boots to fill, Hawkings’ debut collection this season divided audiences – the freshly appointed visionary chose to go back to the beginning, rather than explore what’s next for the Ford franchise. Hawkings reverted to the quintessential Ford basics, drawing from the designer’s trademark 1970s’ cues, sexy silhouettes, and bohomania-meets-Studio 54 influences. 

The collection ignited mixed responses across social media, with commenters saying that the showcase felt like a ‘lite’ attempt at capturing Ford’s perspective, ultimately producing a feeling of déjà-vu, whereas others applauded Hawkings for understanding the true essence of Tom Ford and its distinct visual codes. 

Bottega Veneta Spring Summer 2024 showcase. Photo: Niood

Bottega Veneta’s easter eggs

To say Matthieu Blazy has revived and revitalized Bottega Veneta would be an understatement. 

He molded leather into denim trousers, gave plaid shirts the trompe l’oeil treatment, and made the white tank top trend again during his debut stint at the maison for Fall/Winter 2022. The trailblazer is yet to have a season that doesn’t leave audiences feeling excited about the future of fashion.

Blazy’s off-kilter and disruptive ambitions for the brand continued this season as he took onlookers globetrotting – fishnet knit dresses were plastered with giant pom poms, while raffia and rope were manipulated to emulate tribal fringing. 

The collection also burst with ‘easter eggs.’ Fashion fans noticed said leather-slash-demin jeans stuffed into one of the lineup’s pannier bags, a clever nod to his previous work during a time when ephemeral trends are awash. 

Following a slew of viral post-pandemic runway moments, Blazy’s Bottega has proven that beautiful and well-crafted clothes don’t need the smoke and mirrors of gimmicks to make collections desirable. They just need to be fun. 

Gucci Spring Summer 2024 showcase. Photo: TheIndustry.Fashion

Can Sabato De Sarno define the Gucci identity?

Even prior to MFW’s official kick off, expectations were high for Gucci’s Spring/Summer 2024 collection, as former creative director Alessandro Michele’s successor, Sabato De Sarno, geared up to unveil his inaugural lineup, which went back to the maison’s roots. 

Dubbed ‘Gucci Ancora,’ or ‘Gucci Again,’ the collection was De Sarno’s chance to put his stamp on the Gucci empire, a brand that, despite being globally renowned, is yet to realize its own defining aesthetic. 

Before the showcase even began, the brand’s personalized gold chain invites went viral on social media, pivoting attention away from the last-minute decision to relocate the outdoor presentation indoors to Gucci’s headquarters due to the weather. 

De Sarno’s runway wiped Michele’s garishly maximalist slate clean. Though critics think De Sarno left little to be desired. Skin-bearing skirts and micro-rompers were in full attendance, alongside platform loafers splattered with the iconic ‘Double G’ logo. With wearability on the agenda, plain gray sweatshirts also made an appearance, paired with pencil skirts slashed up to the thigh. 

As a first stint, it was understandable that De Sarno focused on creating pieces that, although lacking imagination, would ultimately drive sales. After all, sex might sell, but it’s the commercialized commodities that really draw in the big bucks. 

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