Milan Fashion Week Welcomes a New Generation of Italian Designers
Milan’s reputation as a stagnant fashion landscape where new talents aren’t given the space and opportunity to grow seems to be finally coming to an end. This season’s packed MFW schedule was brimming with young designers showing promising debuts, progressions in confidence, and more focused points of view. Distinctive in their expression yet addressing the same issues, their creative potential was obvious. They didn’t try to skirt controversy, and embraced messages which gave voice to cultural minorities and advocated social activism and ethical responsibility. Many of the young designers had a provocative, radical, imaginative aesthetic. Fashion cannot change the world, but these guys had things to say. Here are four designers worth watching for their idiosyncratic, personal take on today’s conversation.
His show was one of the most anticipated debuts of MFW, yet Andrea Adamo is no newcomer. He’s an accomplished designer who has worked for high-end fashion brands, and his collection had the confidence which comes from experience, and from a clear point of view. Adamo favors a body-con, feline silhouette, which puts him in the right place, as sexy dressing is having a moment. Riffing on the theme of knitted second skins and body suits with inventive plays of draping and sensual cutouts, his collection was a convincing outing. Women longing to fill the void left in their wardrobe by Azzedine Alaïa’s untimely passing may find Adamo’s powerful, erotic statement very attractive.
Act N°1’s Galib Gassanoff and Luca Lin drew on their multicultural backgrounds and personal stories as usual for fall, blending Chinese imagery and Azerbaijani craftsmanship in a theatrical, flamboyant vision with a provocative social message. The designers have always addressed political issues in their work, and this season, the message was somehow more punchy and radical. A diverse cast paraded their signature bold tailoring, with tulle flourishes and ruffles adding drama; anatomical see-through second skins, emphatic evening gowns, and disassembled pieces held together by safety pins took a turn for the hard-core. On a more delicate note, antique Chinese watercolors were digitized, adding a touch of poetry, while interesting plays of cutouts on jackets and all-in-ones highlighted the designers’ sartorial skills.
Mauro Simionato is one of the true originals of Italian fashion. The founder of Vitelli, a collective creative practice, he has based the label’s ethos around strong ethically responsible and socially conscious principles. Inspired by Italian underground culture, since its inception Vitelli has pioneered “regenerative practices,” upcycling knitwear leftovers and creating Doomboh, a needle-punched fabric which is the base of their imaginative mash-ups and artisanal hippy creations. For fall, the collection was inspired by the Milanese Liberty, an artistic movement from the ’20s, which produced elaborate flowery artifacts in metalwork. New additions to the Doomboh family of regenerated fabrics were deadstock printed silks and crêpes, and a new hybrid textile made from upcycled ’70s yarns. They were made into whimsical balloon dresses and boleros, oversized hoodies, and shell jackets.
This season, Marco Rambaldi was supported by Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli, who offered the designer the opportunity to have his show posted on Valentino’s Instagram. It was a moment of luck and visibility for Rambaldi, who made the best of the situation, presenting one of his most appealing collections so far. His delicate knitwear, often handcrafted and crocheted with a quirky vintage flavor and a streak of unconventional provocation, looked great on his artistic LGBTQ+ community of characters, who rallied to give the designer support. He called the show New Romantic Poetic, emphasizing a politically charged, socially and ethically conscious message through an aesthetic statement that was as intriguing as it was handled gracefully. Its DIY feel will surely appeal to Gen Z.