Milan Fashion Week in transition for FW24

While London Fashion Week was all about young, creative talent, Milan Fashion Week once again stuck to the old guard. While Glenn Martens’ democratic approach at Diesel, with its thousands of virtual guests with backstage passes, brought a touch of innovation and change to the first day of Milan Fashion Week, the remaining days maintained what the Italian city has long been known for : big brands, commercial collections and especially Prada.

Essentially, there’s nothing wrong with doing what you do best – something most Milan designers have focused heavily on this season – but amid a changing luxury landscape, the question arises of more of the same is really what the industry, and especially the customers, want. It’s a question that many designers have had to answer – either with their highly anticipated debut collection or perhaps more important second outing at the helm of a brand – for Fall/Winter 2024.

Between history, nostalgia and the future

It’s a well-known fact that in fashion, many designers tend to look back first before moving forward, and that seemed to be the case with Adrian Appiolaza, who made his debut as creative director at Moschino . The realignment of the Italian brand, which was once founded by Franco Moschino with a wink, wit and a political agenda and which developed completely towards the camp under Jeremy Scott, was eagerly awaited.

Moschino FW24 Image: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Not an easy task for Appiolaza, who only took over the management of Moschino in January of this year. Perhaps the timing explains the designer’s choice to carefully explore the brand founder’s archive while at the same time anchoring the brand in everyday life. Of course, the humor hasn’t been lost, nor has the politics or Moschino’s familiar iconography. There were slogans – most notably a call for peace emblazoned on a knitted dress – surreal clouds, smiley faces and Italian archetypes galore. What was perhaps missing at the end of the day was both novelty and a sense of what Appiolaza Moschino will stand for in the seasons to come.

The fact that debut collections are, in many ways, a thankless task is well known. The expectations are too high, the critics are harsh and the commercial success will only become apparent in a few months. A designer who could probably sing a song about this is Gucci’s creative director Sabato De Sarno. His debut and the associated redesign of the Italian fashion house was probably the most commented on event of the past fashion year, but ultimately fell short of the lofty expectations of many. While his first collection is due to hit stores in the next few days and will finally provide a glimpse into the commercial viability of his vision, his second women’s collection for Fall/Winter 2024 already shows a more sure hand than his debut.

Gucci FW24
Gucci FW24 Image: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Still grounded in “reality,” as De Sarno describes it in his show notes, the designer literally added some sparkle this season while continuing to focus heavily on tailoring, coats, “Ancora red” and the Gucci logo . The collection focused on structure and sex appeal, with legs as the heroes of the hour, clad in thigh-high patent leather boots and showing just a few centimeters of skin before the high hemlines began. Boyish short suits and boxy jackets met structured monochrome sets, coats and dresses with fringe and glitter, as well as slip dresses and lingerie details.

If some of the looks were reminiscent of the past, perhaps for some it wasn’t necessarily or overtly Gucci, but Prada – a phenomenon not limited to De Sarno or Gucci, but one that has been seen again and again recently. Last season, New York Times chief fashion critic Vanessa Friedman dubbed Miuccia Prada the season’s muse, and while the timing of her likeness on the current US Vogue cover is certainly a bit coincidental, the power of Prada is also in this season is undeniable.

Everything the same?

However, a big difference between Prada and Gucci is that, as is often the case, Prada focuses on history rather than reality. The duo Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons embed “fashion into fragments of history to explore the concept of beauty and a contemporary world shaped by memories,” as they explained in their Fall/Winter 2024 communications.

Prada FW24
Prada FW24 Image: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

In many ways, the collection was a continuation of what the brand presented in its men’s collection in January. The women’s pieces reflected the looks presented for men, but there were also “clichés of femininity” – bows, ruffles, flounces, all hallmarks of the current “coquette” trend – that Prada wanted to reevaluate. Skirts experiment with contrasts and combine delicate silk with tailored wool; Biker and bomber jackets and knits were transformed using nostalgic memories, and sleek silhouettes relied on vertical lines, reimagining proportions.

Blumarine was also rethought, but some things remained the same. Former Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi marked its debut with a departure from “Y2K” and its butterflies, rooting it in romance instead of a big reveal. His collection is reminiscent of the luxury he presented during his time at Tod’s, albeit far less austere and calm. However, Tod’s’ new creative director, Matteo Tamburini, appears to be picking up where Walter Chiapponi left off, although he has introduced a metal band instead of a flashy logo and slightly more casual cuts to the clothing.

Blumarine FW24
Blumarine FW24 Image: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

“The act of dressing”

One brand where “same as always” seems to have found a clear winning formula is Bottega Veneta. Matthieu Blazy has designed the Italian brand with care and confidence since its much-lauded debut in 2022, with textures, details and tailoring becoming his trademarks. His approach to everyday clothing is not necessarily perceived as being wearable at any time, but changes the approach to everyday life and the traditional forms of familiar clothing with each season, but without making them unrecognizable.

Bottega Veneta FW24
Bottega Veneta FW24 Image: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Models were dressed in oversized coats with varying textures and eye-catching details, with colors ranging from muted tones to bright reds and greens. Materials were diverse, from cozy wool and sturdy leather to playful fringes and cotton blends. Tasseled jackets and skirts were reminiscent of past seasons without imitating them, while structured ensembles rounded out the overall look.

In many ways, Blazy’s collection and his tenure at Bottega suggest that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for every season, that perhaps you need a steady hand and a deep understanding – not only of your customers, but also of your own brand and the times in which we live – can be more than enough. “In a world on fire, there is something very human about the simple act of getting dressed,” Blazy said.