Milan Fashion Week, interrupted

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Matthieu Blazy’s Bottega Veneta debut, Gucci’s lean-in to menswear, and a rare through-line of fashion trends marked a Milan season disrupted by war in Ukraine.

In normal times, the successful debut of designer Matthieu Blazy at Bottega Veneta would have been the centerpiece of Milan’s Autumn/Winter 2022 Fashion Week. The start of the war in Ukraine, though, sent norms skidding, making it the likely marker by which the AW22 season will be recalled.

The war was the backdrop of the week and on the streets. On Sunday afternoon, in a rare gesture on a runway, Giorgio Armani eliminated music and instead put forth a silent show (other than the sounds of models’ footsteps) in a show of respect for Ukraine. On Saturday, traffic in Milan snarled following Dolce & Gabbana’s show at the Metropole as anti-Russia protestors marched down Corso Venezia.

Milan Fashion Week interrupted

Yet fashion week did not veer off course. Blazy debuted a much-lauded collection for Bottega Veneta on Saturday night, Rihanna went bare-pregnant-belly at Gucci on Friday afternoon, where the house announced a new collaboration with Adidas, and a surprising number of fashion trends emerged on the runways of Milan, which aren’t known for following fads.

In fact, the AW22 collections revealed a nearly universal penchant for linebacker-shoulder tailoring, lingerie-as-daywear, and micro skirts so mini that some — well, Diesel’s — may in actuality be sold as belts. Often, the lingerie looks softened the Italian brands’ traditional excellence with tailoring. At Fendi, designer Kim Jones used effervescent silk slip dresses to oppose the strength of the label’s made-for-the-boardroom suiting.

There were a lot — I mean a lot — of extremely shaggy faux-fur coats. The only thing minimal about Luke and Lucie Meier’s version for Jil Sander was the coat’s soft off-white color. Dolce & Gabbana sent cartoonishly delightful and garishly colorful versions one after another to seal the point — it’s always their point — that fashion can be joyous and even comedic.

The Diesel Denim Collection

Diesel Milan Fashion Week
Milan Fashion Week 2022

At his debut runway show (but second collection) for Diesel, designer Glenn Martens shredded denim into dramatic Yeti coats that singled his aim to take the 44-year-old jeans to brand back to its rule-breaking roots while amping up its fashion quotient.

The plethora of these coats, so clearly aimed at replacing fur, reminded me how starkly real fur has disappeared from runways. It wasn’t so many years ago that Milan’s catwalks were chock full of mink, fox, and even astrakhan and broadtail. It’s almost impossible today to imagine seeing on a runway coat made from the soft skins of newborn or in-utero lambs.

Milan, its industry so dominated by well-established luxury brands, has been making an effort to support emerging talents. This season, Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana sponsored London-based Korean designer Sohee Park, known as Miss Sohee’s, presentation at their Martini lounge and the flagship store on Corso Venezia. Park’s one-of-a-kind, made-to-order pieces were embroidered with sequined images of tigers, flowers, ocean waves, and other traditional Korean emblems but with the sweep of haute couture.

Whole populations of show-goers were in absentia this week in Milan. Asian buyers and editors were almost universally absent due to pandemic restrictions in their countries. Fewer influencers peacock outside shows or in front rows, but whether that’s a pandemic concession or a shift back toward celebrities after the Influencer Decade remains unclear.

Milan Fashion Week
Big, shaggy coats were prevalent at Milan Fashion Week, seen at Jil Sander.

Prada, whose celebrity attendees are often architects, artists, and other intellectuals favoured by Miuccia Prada, threw us a curveball and placed Kim Kardashian in the front row. It’s more a sign of Kardashian’s rise as a cultural icon than of Prada seeking to make its mark with influencers.

Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, sat front row at Gucci. The new collaboration with Adidas was apparent in the three stripes down the arms and legs of excellently tailored suits. Notably, the collection was almost entirely made up of male models. Calling it all menswear would be a stretch, as the models wore blouses and slip tops in addition to men’s suiting, now a Gucci signature.

Showing a men’s collection during a womenswear week felt like a signal. Sales of menswear, after all, have been growing faster than womenswear in recent years, and Gen Z men, in particular, are more interested in capital-F Fashion and less conservative in their choices. These are potent signs for the makers of menswear.

After the show, though, Gucci designer Alessandro Michele insisted there was little to be read into his emphasis on men.

“I thought it would be interesting to have a men’s collection during women’s fashion week,” Michele said. “Seven years ago, I came here for a men’s collection and the reaction was that I was the inventor of gender fluidity. I’m very, very proud of this, but menswear is very, very broad and women also like men’s suits.”

Written by Christina Binkley | All Rights Reserved, No Copyright Infringement Intended

#Milan Fashion Week, interrupted

#Milan Fashion Week, interrupted

#Milan Fashion Week, interrupted

#Milan Fashion Week, interrupted

#Milan Fashion Week, interrupted

#Milan Fashion Week, interrupted

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