Italian fashion houses are in the midst of a shake-up at Milan fashion week

·3-min read
<span>Photograph: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

The London catwalks were muffled and muted by national mourning – but in Milan, fashion week is in ebullient mood.

The Italian fashion industry is on course for its best ever year of sales in 2022. Opening the week of fashion shows Carlo Capasa, the president of the Italian Fashion Chamber, said “in 2022, we are going to reach and even exceed the level of sales generated before the 2008 crisis, recording the [Italian] fashion industry’s highest revenue in 20 years”.

Fendi, a 97-year-old titan of Italian fashion, has been turbocharged from supine luxury into a pop cultural force under British designer Kim Jones. After making a bold land grab for New York fashion airtime by collaborating with Marc Jacobs and Sarah Jessica Parker for an on-catwalk birthday party for the Baguette handbag in Manhattan a fortnight ago, the stage for Fendi’s second show of the season was a 1990s warehouse party, with neon-painted steel podiums zigzagging a concrete floor.

Outside, traffic was brought to a standstill by chauffeur-driven celebrities, flamboyantly dressed influencers and an army of street style photographers. Inside, piano house anthems bounced from the walls as the catwalk filled with cargo pants sporting oversized patch pockets and parachute-silk ties, and racer-back vest dresses worn insouciantly bra-less, jacked up on Spice Girl-sized platform trainers.

Fendi has been turbocharged from supine luxury into a pop cultural force under British designer Kim Jones.
Fendi has been turbocharged from supine luxury into a pop cultural force under British designer Kim Jones. Photograph: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

In the tradition of Italian fashion the Fendi family are still at the heart of the house and Jones said the look had been inspired after he noticed Delfina Delettrez Fendi, 30-something scion of the house and its current jewellery designer, plucking archive pieces “from the period between 1996 and 2004, when Karl [Lagerfeld] was here” to wear.

The energy of the millennium-era is proving irresistible across all echelons of the fashion industry, from TikTok-driven teenagers to this most luxe of Italian brands. “I think that when you look back at those years now it seems like it was just a really great, fun time,” noted British fashion designer Christopher Kane, who attended the Fendi show three days after making his own return to London fashion week on Sunday. “And the clothes were effortlessly cool.”

The energy of the millennium-era is proving irresistible so the catwalk was filled with Spice Girl-sized platform trainers.
The energy of the millennium-era is proving irresistible so the catwalk was filled with Spice Girl-sized platform trainers. Photograph: Jacopo Raule/Getty Images

Milan is in the midst of a shake-up. Vying for a larger slice of what is proving to be a lucrative bounce back after Covid, several of the city’s household name fashion houses have hired new, relatively little-known designers who will make catwalk debuts this week.

Maximilian Davis, a 27-year-old British designer of Trinidadian-Jamaican heritage who learned his early dressmaking skills from his grandmother as a child in Manchester, has been catapulted from an in-the-know name to drop at London fashion week to heading the house of Salvatore Ferragamo, where past clients include Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn.

At Missoni, synonymous worldwide with the colourful zigzag, creative control has finally passed from the family to Filippo Grazioli, who takes his first front-of-house role after stints behind the scenes at Burberry and Givenchy. Etro has also appointed a designer from outside the family for the first time, with the arrival of Marco de Vincenzo, who has said he intends to prioritise sustainability with the introduction of upcycling into the 55-year-old house of Etro.