With the pandemic emergency forcing brand to cancel their show, Italian fashion system should learn from the many excellence we saw during the last Fashion Week
Text by Gianmarco Gronchi
Milan is swaying dangerously, like a battered raft in the middle of a cloudburst. Milan is creaking ominously, and the impression is that the bond that used to bind the fashion world’s rituals together is now worn out. The pandemic was supposed to be a turning point for a global rethink of a system that – despite appearances on the surface – is particularly resistant to any kind of change. In the midst of the fourth pandemic wave, however, nothing seems to have changed, starting with the frequency of presentations and the clear division between men’s and women’s collections. These latter aspects now seem to be a heavy burden of a glorious but outdated past, which sooner or later will have to be dealt with. And yet Italy, and Milan in particular, would have all the qualities to be a virtuous example for other international realities. An extremely vast and composite cultural heritage and artisan and industrial excellence waiting to be properly exploited would be the cornerstones around which a structured system could revolve. Long gone are the days when from the mouths of people like Raffaele Mattioli, nicknamed “the enlightened banker” for his support for the arts, it was possible to hear phrases like “what is missing is ideas, not money”. Today, in the vicious circle in which whoever has the most media influence wins, both money and ideas seem to be missing, in a race to the bottom that is detrimental to the creative research and the quality of the product.
This is why we must be grateful to those leaders who, with effort, pursue research that still has the identity of a garment at heart. Away from the catwalks, Aspesi continues the discourse inaugurated with the summer collection presented in September. Creative director Lawrence Steele works on the brand’s identifying stylistic features, with the aim of promoting a hybrid way of dressing, suitable for both men and women. Oversized cardigans with women’s buttoning that are also suitable for men, knitwear with super fluid shapes and padded to be worn as outerwear, garments that return unchanged in both men’s and women’s versions, all declined, of course, according to the aesthetic of the brand. These are the addendums of a narrative that embraces different generations, in an intimate celebration of Aspesi family values. Cucinelli, after the Pitti defection, presents in Milan his idea of informal and relaxed elegance, where the focus is on materials and details. It is a refined but not sophisticated luxury that of the humanist entrepreneur, who in addition to the timeless double-breasted suits combined with cargo velour, this year pays particular attention to knitwear, with chiné and vanisé workmanship, jacquard inlays and embroidery. Missoni, on the other hand, has made knitwear a real motif of choice, dedicating part of its collection to the cardigan, one of the Lombard company’s favourite garments and recently re-evaluated for its eclecticism, after years in which it seemed destined to remain confined to grandparents’ wardrobes. Alongside, there is also a capsule dedicated to the mountains, where activewear is coloured with the infinite shades redesigned from Rosita and Ottavio’s archive.
Milan debut for Andrea Incontri, whose collection Her Him. Season 01 is already a declaration of intent. The designer’s identifier I comes in a pervasive way on trackpants and street-inspired tops, becoming a micro-pattern that recalls the most brazen glamour of the Nineties. The idea of an urban uniform merges with the stunning photographic campaign by Giampaolo Sgura, with the aim of creating a visual continuum between dress and photo shoot. Avril8790 also makes her debut on the Milan Fashion Week calendar and does so with a funky-dance style with psychedelic overtones. All played on alternating shapes and layering, this collection seems to be an interesting first step into the world of the Milan catwalks. PT Torino has also turned to digital to overcome the problems of physical presentation, creating a small visual jewel of extreme simplicity but immediate communicative power. The PT Progessive Talents video has as its setup a single white wall, designed by the artist Alessandro Bava, on which the various personalities that give life, physically and symbolically, to the brand identity move and meet. The wall, therefore, is not a dividing element, but a meeting place, a trait d’union between the mood of Swinging London in the Sixties and the skaters of the end of the millennium.
JetSet, the historic brand founded in St. Moritz in 1969, renews its tradition with an extremely seductive urban skiwear. Down jackets in multi-foil and knitwear with jacquard and inlay work for a collection that has as its direct reference the glitter of the Eighties, but with a convincing contemporary soul. Massimo Giorgetti, unable to attend the fashion show because of Covid, drew inspiration from Gaetano Pesce for the new MSGM collection: “Time is an extraordinary thing, it can keep us forward or backward. You have to keep up with its rhythm, otherwise you get old”. The resin castings and upholstery of the well-known Italian sculptor and designer are thus reworked by Giorgetti, in a polychrome and playful whole.
Finally, one of the happiest notes of this Milan Fashion Week comes from Ardusse, an emerging brand leaded by Gaetano Colucci, a 1996 class fashion designer. The 2022-2023 menswear collection takes us on a very personal journey to Iceland, in search of the interrupted dreams of adolescence to relive in the arcadia of our thoughts. A truly skilful and, above all, passionate work, in which everything – from the shade of mauve of the varsity jackets, to the motif for the lace used for shirts and high collars – is created and reworked according to the enchanted vision of Colucci, who was also at the head of artistic direction for this season. Tim Walker’s photoshoot with Björk comes to mind, with the idea of a fragile but not helpless romanticism. A possible, beautiful, lesson for tomorrow’s menswear.