How to restart a fashion house

Ferragamo’s Spring/Summer 23 show in Milan saw the debut of its new creative director Maximilian Davis ©Getty Images

Once in a while, a designer puts on a show so surprisingly good that everything else pales in comparison. It was Matthieu Blazy’s second outing for Bottega Veneta, the €1.5bn-revenue leather goods brand he took over after his former boss Daniel Lee left last year. .

This season, Blazy has teamed up with 82-year-old Italian architect Gaetano Pesce, who designed the exhibition space’s colorful resin floor and also designed the hundreds of bright resin and block chairs. lined up for the guests. “The idea was to really represent [human] the diversity . . . different characters and put them into the Gaetano landscape,” Blazy said backstage.

What he offered was a complete wardrobe, shown on a cast of models not all in the first wave of youth and the most interesting for that. His wardrobe began with casual, or what Blazy called “perverse banality”: faded t-shirts and overshirts with chinos and baggy jeans made not of cotton and wool but of leather, each layered from eight to 12 prints to create depth, then shaved thin, Blazy said. These are followed by elegant clothes for professional life: single-buttoned suits with trousers rolled up and sewn in a soft arc behind the calf, as if caught in the air; impeccably cut blazer dresses and coats that puffed out at the hips; and, for evening, knit dresses and pantsuits in a mix of patterns and fringes inspired by futurist painter Giacomo Balla.

Kate Moss models jeans, a blue and white overshirt and a white t-shirt

Matthieu Blazy’s second collection for Bottega Veneta showcased a full wardrobe, including casual pieces. . . ©Filippo Fior

A model walks around in a fringed outfit with a fringed bag

. . . and knitted dresses with patterns and fringes inspired by the Italian futurist painter Giacomo Balla

The garments were not only stunning but also strategic, designed to underline the USPs of the Kering-owned brand – its leather craftsmanship and also, Blazy said, its heritage as a “bag company”, which binds it to travel and the idea of ​​”going somewhere”. Thus these high-cut pants and the thrill of the fringes on the shoulders, the skirts and the hems of the pants. Any of these garments would be recognizable at Bottega in a store, no logo needed.

His approach offered lessons for designers who made their debuts at other labels this week in Milan. Expectations were highest at Ferragamo, the 95-year-old Florentine cobbler now run by former Burberry chief executive Marco Gobbetti and Maximilian Davis, a 27-year-old from Manchester and the first black designer to hold the post of chief executive. creative at home.

A model walks down a red catwalk in a red dress and red shoes

For his debut as creative director of Ferragamo, Maximilian Davis showed off elegant suede dresses. . . ©Filippo Fior

A model on a red catwalk wears a loose mesh white top over loose white pants

. . . and airy mesh pieces adapted to the brand’s jet-set clientele © Filippo Fior

A model walks down the white steps wearing a short blue and white bodycon dress

Missoni’s Filippo Grazioli played with the house’s famous prints, adding bright primary colors. . .

a model at the bottom of a flight of white stairs wears a long black and white bodycon dress

. . . and featured tight-fitting zebra-patterned evening dresses

In recent years, family-owned Ferragamo has ceded market share to bigger rivals, becoming a small fish in a growing pond, and overthrowing it will not be an easy task. Last year, sales amounted to 1.14 billion euros, still below pre-pandemic revenues.

The family urged Davis to be “risky,” he said backstage, and the show had the fizz of a major debut. There was a palace for a backdrop, its floors and walls covered in orange-red, and the new, all-caps and ever-so-slightly-serifed Ferragamo logo, designed by Peter Saville, blown across the entrance.

By hiring such a young designer, the Ferragamo family hoped to attract a younger clientele, but Davis designed for a range. There were bandeau tops and mini skirts, sure, but the focus was on tailoring and the kind of sleek sportswear honed by Michael Kors and Tom Ford. It was more vibrant and energetic than what preceded Davis, but it didn’t rock. And Ferragamo needs thrills to cut through the noise of its much bigger and better-funded rivals.

A model on a catwalk wears a dress with a cropped, fringed hem at the front, long at the back

At Etro, new creative director Marco de Vincenzo blasted the brand’s logo onto tops and shirts. . .

A catwalk model wears loose patterned pants with a bandeau top

. . . and denim brocades printed with flower, bird and exotic fruit motifs

A catwalk model wears a long black dress with a thigh-high slit skirt

Swiss luxury brand Bally has returned to the catwalks after 21 years with a collection of elegant dresses. . . © Alberto Maddaloni

A model wears a patterned suede trouser suit

. . . and suede suits designed by new creative director Rhuigi Villaseñor © Alberto Maddaloni

New designer Missoni Filippo Grazioli, who worked under Riccardo Tisci at Burberry and Givenchy, was certainly aiming to rock. Her debut collection was short, sheer and sparkly, but her chevron and zebra-patterned flat bodycon dresses and miniskirts did little to showcase the house’s rich craftsmanship.

For his first Etro show, Marco de Vincenzo, also an accessories designer for Fendi, did not play with the brand’s signature cashmere but enlarged his logo by embroidering it on the pockets of striped shirts and jacquard denim trousers, corners of skirts and sides of carpet bags recycled from fabrics from the previous season. The problem with this approach is that Etro doesn’t have enough brand equity to make the logo widely desirable – de Vincenzo has some work to do to achieve that.

It seems that it is no longer enough to be a leather goods brand these days – those that have managed to become luxury fashion houses, such as Louis Vuitton and Hermès, sell more handbags than handbag brands. dedicated hands, and more shoes than cobblers. So Swiss leather goods brand Bally is trying its hand at fashion again by hiring LA-based designer Rhuigi Villaseñor to create its first runway collection in 21 years. His suede suits and figure-hugging cutout dresses would look right at home in Los Angeles, but they didn’t help establish a clear identity for the brand.

A model wears a purple evening dress and a veil

Versace’s collection was a dark, sultry display of boudoir dresses and hooded dresses. . . © Alphonse Catalano/SGP

Paris Hilton wars a sleeveless short pink dress and a pink veil

. . . with an uplifting finale by OG influencer Paris Hilton in a short, sparkly dress © Alfonso Catalano/SGP

A model wears a leopard print bodysuit with a matching long coat

Dolce & Gabbana has teamed up with Kim Kardashian for a “conservation” of archival pieces from 1987 to 2007. . © Monica Feudi

A model wears a tight white dress with white tights and shoes

. . . that the designers have slightly reworked in new creations for Spring/Summer 23 © Monica Feudi

Versace and Dolce & Gabbana both looked at the power of stardom this season and 90s and early fashion. Donatella Versace chose OG influencer Paris Hilton in a vaguely vampiric show of black hooded dresses, purple boudoir dresses and dark eyeliner. Dolce & Gabbana teamed up with Kim Kardashian in what she called a “curation” and not a collaboration: She chose pieces from the archives from 1987 to 2007, which the designers slightly reworked, sewing a label with the year of their original creation in clothing. There were elastic corsets and dresses, silky cargo pants, and head-to-toe leopard print — every piece Kardashian could possibly wear. She bowed to the designers in a glittering jet evening dress as her mother and three of her children looked on in the front row.

It was smart marketing and a lighthearted moment of fun in a week overshadowed by national elections. On the final Sunday of parades, Italians headed to the polls, where they are expected to elect a right-wing coalition that is quietly worrying many in Italy’s fashion industry. Armani’s closing show offered another moment of respite, with its light, flowing pants, embroidered jackets and shimmering evening dresses in soft, pale colors. After a week of so many Gen Z focused shows, it was nice to see adult clothing.

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