Milan Fashion Week

A model presents a collection for Italian designer Ennio Capasa during the catwalk show for the Fall/Winter 2022/2023 collection on the first day of the Milan Fashion Week in Milan on 22 February 2022. Image: Miguel Medina / AFP

Big names make a return to live women’s shows in Milan

For the first time since COVID-19 erupted, in-person shows will outnumber the virtual ones in Milan for fashion week.

Milan Fashion Week

A model presents a collection for Italian designer Ennio Capasa during the catwalk show for the Fall/Winter 2022/2023 collection on the first day of the Milan Fashion Week in Milan on 22 February 2022. Image: Miguel Medina / AFP

The who’s who of Italian fashion retakes the runway with the return of Milan women’s shows on Wednesday, which organisers hope will boost an industry stifled by two years of coronavirus.

Back are the leggy models, the paparazzi and the Prosecco-fuelled parties as the international jet-set ready for live shows from the likes of Fendi, Giorgio Armani and Gucci, including a debut for Ferrari.

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58 PHYSICAL SHOWS FOR MILAN FALL/WINTER 22/23

This season, for the first time since COVID-19 erupted in Italy in February 2020, in-person shows with audiences will outnumber pre-taped shows and films streamed for homebound fashionistas.

Those proved a pale substitute for the runway extravaganzas that are a major advertising weapon for luxury brands.

Now, Milan is hoping for an event worthy of the return of hundreds of buyers, journalists and fashion executives to the city.

Carlo Capasa, chairman of Italy’s national fashion chamber (CNMI), acknowledged during a press conference last week the “uncertainty” that still weighed over the sector.

But the 58 physical shows and nine digital offerings for Fall/Winter 2022/2023 are “a strong sign of optimism and positivity, which infuses new momentum into the industry”, he said.

“Everything is heading towards recovery in 2022.”

Italian designer Ennio Capasa poses prior to the Fall/Winter 2022/2023 collection show on the first day of the Milan Fashion Week in Milan on 22 February 2022. Image: Miguel Medina / AFP

Attracting the most attention among the ready-to-wear shows is Gucci, today’s “It” label, with its green and red stripe. It returns to the Milan calendar after a two-year absence.

Designer Alessandro Michele is fresh from November’s “Gucci Love Parade” show that – replete with satin, spangles and ostrich feathers – turned Hollywood’s Walk of Fame into the flashiest of catwalks.

MILAN HELPING THE FASHION INDUSTRY TO CLAW BACK FROM COVID

Two years ago this week in Milan, Moschino presented a Versailles-worthy collection of embroidered silk confections on models in towering hairdos.

The carefree, “Let them eat cake” vibe was soon brought to a brutal halt by the pandemic.

Since then, after a period of factory closures, plummeting sales and a sea change in how people dress (sweatpants, anyone?), the industry has sought to claw its way back to pre-Covid levels.

“After nearly two years of disruption, the global fashion industry is once again finding its feet,” wrote consultancy McKinsey in a December report.

Italy’s fashion and related sectors are expected to post revenue of 83 billion euros (R1.4 trillion) in 2021, up 20.9% year-on-year, according to CNMI. That is still 7.8% shy of 2019 levels, however.

Exports, up 16.4% in the first 10 months of 2021, were fuelled by a 50% rise in sales to China, and a 31.8% increase to the United States.

Chinese buyers will still be absent this week due to restricted entry into Italy, but a government measure intended to spur tourism means foreign buyers who received non-EU approved vaccines, in particular Russia’s Sputnik, are welcome.

A surge of Omicron cases resulted in a scaled-down Milan men’s fashion week in January, and anxiety continues to hang over the show circuit, which began this month in New York and, following shows in London and Milan, wraps up in Paris on March 8.

In New York, Tom Ford cancelled his highly anticipated runway show, blaming an unfinished collection on Omicron cases among US design staff and Italian factory workers.

FERRARI MAKES MILAN DEBUT

More at home on the racetrack than the runway, Ferrari makes its Milan debut Sunday, eight months after designer Rocco Iannone presented the first fashion collection for the luxury sports car brand, using its assembly line as a catwalk.

Returning to Milan on Wednesday is Diesel, marking Belgian designer Glenn Martens’ second collection for the Italian denim brand.

Martens, who continues to serve as artistic director of Y/Project, presented a resplendent haute couture collection in Paris last month as Jean Paul Gaultier’s guest designer, garnering rave reviews for his deconstructed take on the French designer’s signature corseting.

Fashion watchers are also eager for Matthieu Blazy’s debut Saturday as the new creative director of Bottega Veneta, following the surprise exit of Daniel Lee in November.

© Agence France-Presse/Alexandria Sage