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Celeb-packed shows and bombastic sets return at Milan Fashion Week

todayMarch 1, 2022 1

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Like London before it, Milan Fashion Week returned with beautiful in-person shows, plenty of influencers and A-listers in attendance and collections that spanned high glamour and sure-fire commercial hits.
Gucci showed in the city for the first time since February 2020, Prada included Kim Kardashian among its guests (a hint to a future collaboration?) and a red-haired Kendall Jenner walked the catwalk for Bottega Veneta as new creative director Matthieu Blazy unveiled his vision for the brand.

Giorgio Armani, who had canceled two events in Milan in January due to surging Covid-19 cases, held shows for both Emporio Armani and his eponymous brand. The latter event on Sunday was the only major show to pay tribute to Ukraine, with the designer sending models down a silent runway as “a sign of respect towards the people involved in the unfolding tragedy,” he explained on Instagram.

Elsewhere, however, the lack of visible solidarity — or any acknowledgment of Russia’s invasion, which began a day after shows got underway — was perhaps the week’s biggest shortcoming. In its happy bubble, Milan felt a little tone-deaf considering the realities unfolding in eastern Europe.

Below are more takeaways from the week-long fashion bonanza.

Big names, big contrasts

Fendi opened Milan Fashion Week.

Fendi opened Milan Fashion Week. Credit: FABRIZIO MARTINEZ/FENDI

The Prada show was held inside the Deposito at Fondazione Prada.

The Prada show was held inside the Deposito at Fondazione Prada. Credit: Prada

Kendall Jenner sported red hair for the Prada runway.

Kendall Jenner sported red hair for the Prada runway. Credit: Monica Feudi/Prada Donna

Key basics like white tanks were reimagined for a new audience, modelled here by Kaia Gerber.

Key basics like white tanks were reimagined for a new audience, modelled here by Kaia Gerber. Credit: Monica Feudi/Prada Donna

With all the usual mainstays holding court, including Prada, Fendi, Moschino, Armani, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana, Milan was back with its pre-Covid luster. The ambitious line-up (there were 67 physical shows scheduled) provided a mix of styles, themes and aesthetics.

Fendi opened the week with a chic display of tweed and chiffon — plus Bella Hadid as the show lead and a bevy of influencers sitting front row. It was a collection of contrasts and archival references (creative director Kim Jones drew inspiration from the brand’s Spring-Summer 1986 and Fall-Winter 2000 designs), as well as “It” bags to accompany the looks.

Contrast was also the watchword for Prada, where Raf Simons and Miuccia Prada cleverly mixed the classics — from white tanks to aviator jackets — with showstopping tailored coats and delicately embroidered skirts.

At Max Mara, the brand’s signature teddy bear coat was reinvented as huge skirts, dresses and track shorts and then presented alongside floor-length puffer jackets and balaclavas in a street style-meets-alpine slopes kind of way. It was a versatile, highly wearable mix that worked.

Viral set designs

Versace chose a moveable, reflective runway.

Versace chose a moveable, reflective runway. Credit: Carmine Conte/Versace

Dolce & Gabbana used a vibrant backdrop of a virtual cityscape.

Dolce & Gabbana used a vibrant backdrop of a virtual cityscape. Credit: Monica Feudi

Glenn Martens, Diesel's creative director, presented a sci-fi fantasy to Milan.

Glenn Martens, Diesel’s creative director, presented a sci-fi fantasy to Milan. Credit: Diesel

Metallic body paint and an inflatible set design meant the show quickly went viral.

Metallic body paint and an inflatible set design meant the show quickly went viral. Credit: Diesel

Set designs were as thought-out as the clothes at many of this season’s shows.

Real-life Dolce & Gabbana models walked against a virtual backdrop of neon skyscrapers, scantily clad digital avatars and D&G graffiti. Diesel had giant inflatable dolls, dressed of course in the brand’s clothes, lining a red-hot runway in provocative poses. Jil Sanders opted for replicas of ancient Greek statues placed at the center of her set, while Donatella Versace chose a reflective runway with movable side panels, creating a game of optical illusions.

And then there was Gucci, which welcomed guests into the ultimate trippy setup: a giant room with a black-and-white checkered floor and mirrored walls lit up with violet lights.

The award for most interesting format, though, should probably go to the relatively young brand Sunnei. Doing away with the traditional catwalk, the label held its show en plein air, in the outskirts of Milan, holding what co-founders Simone Rizzo and Loris Messina described as a “performance within the performance.” Models came running, not walking, along a wall of an industrial building, as the audience — facing them perched on metal benches — was invited to watch the show in slow motion on their phones.

Models were dropped off on the corner and debuted the clothes by running through the streets.

Models were dropped off on the corner and debuted the clothes by running through the streets. Credit: Victor Boyko/Getty

It was a fresh take on the typical catwalk.

It was a fresh take on the typical catwalk. Credit: Victor Boyko/Getty

New energy

While the heavyweights didn’t disappoint sartorially, their casting choices did. Yes, there were racially diverse models — undoubtedly an important shift from only a few seasons prior — but, for the most part, they remained skinny and conventionally attractive.

Luckily, new Italian names offered compelling alternatives.

Bright newcomer Marco Rambaldi, in particular, put on one of the week’s most talked-about shows with a bold runway that was inclusive, provocative and genuinely fun. Titled “New Post Romantic Poetics,” it was live-streamed on Maison Valentino’s Instagram account (as part of a partnership between Valentino and Milan Fashion Week organizers) and featured a variety of body types, gender fluid clothes, and a casting of non-professional models, many of which identify as LGBTQ.

Design duo Luca Lin and Galib Gassanoff of Act N.1, another brand to watch from Milan’s recent fashion renaissance, meanwhile casted trans people, older women and a young mother with her baby, among others.

Marco Rambaldi prioritized diverse casting in his bold runway show.

Marco Rambaldi prioritized diverse casting in his bold runway show. Credit: Marcus Tondo

A celeb-packed affair

Whether it was Julia Fox at Diesel, Kim Kardashian at Prada, Julianne Moore at Bottega Veneta or Rihanna at Gucci, celebrities were back big time at Milan Fashion Week. Some of the events felt more like red carpet award ceremonies than fashion shows, with hordes of people and paparazzi waiting outside each venue to catch a glimpse of A-list stars.

Julia Fox at the Diesel show in Milan.

Julia Fox at the Diesel show in Milan. Credit: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty/Diesel

Kim Kardashian front row at the Prada catwalk.

Kim Kardashian front row at the Prada catwalk. Credit: Pietro S. D’Aprano/Getty Images

Gucci did it again

Gucci is no stranger to collabs, having recently worked with the likes of Balenciaga and The North Face. But the partnership it unveiled at “Exquisite Gucci,” the title of its Fall-Winter show, might just be its biggest commercial hit yet. In collaboration with Adidas, the label sent out models in berets, jackets and giant leather bags bearing mash-ups of the two brands’ logos, proving just how good creative director Alessandro Michele is at his job: making the label a harbinger of cool.

Prepare to see these designs on hypebeasts everywhere.

Gucci unveiled a collaboration with Adidas at Milan Fashion Week.

Gucci unveiled a collaboration with Adidas at Milan Fashion Week. Credit: Courtesy of Gucci

Back to the office

Designers seemed to embrace the return-to-office trend that is gaining traction in some parts of the world, with tailored suiting a recurrent sartorial choice at Milan Fashion Week.

Suits-with-a-twist were all over the runway this season, like this sequined Gucci number.

Suits-with-a-twist were all over the runway this season, like this sequined Gucci number. Credit: Kevin Tachman

Suits made of herringbone fabric (pictured under this furry green coat) were on show at the Bottega Veneta catwalk.

Suits made of herringbone fabric (pictured under this furry green coat) were on show at the Bottega Veneta catwalk. Credit: Alessandro Lucioni

Gucci based a whole collection on it, putting forth a range that included slim-fit and double-breasted looks, as well as a standout velvet tuxedo with crystal detailing and sequins. Bottega Veneta had a minimal take on the two-piece for men and women alike, while both Versace and Dolce & Gabbana opened their collections with a strong shouldered suit. Prada’s structural suit jackets, too, were right on the money.

Sartorial escapism

Credit: Moschino/Marco Ovando

Camp was king at the Moschino show.

Camp was king at the Moschino show. Credit: Moschino/Marco Ovando

Bella Hadid at Moschino.

Bella Hadid at Moschino. Credit: Moschino/Marco Ovando

In a complete antithesis to suits and pretty dresses, Jeremy Scott’s Moschino delivered the week’s most surreal show — and one of his campest collections to date. The delightfully wacky line up spanned harp gowns and lampshade headpieces, grandfather-clock inspired dresses and slinky ensembles emblazoned with phrases like “Maid in Italy” and “Gilt without Guilt.”

The Hadid sisters walked the runway — Gigi (pictured top) closed the show in a dramatic gold gown featuring a sweeping tulle train and matching gloves with gold leaves wrapped around the arms. But it was Scott himself that made the splashiest entrance, as he came out to take his bow in a red astronaut suit.

Top image: Gigi Hadid and Jeremy Scott at the Moschino show.

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