Ever more an international hub welcoming new buyers from far afield, Milan Fashion Week is catching up with the times.
Atsushi Nakashima Fall/Winter 2019 show in Milan. Photo by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION.
As Italy’s top designers retire and/or their brands speak to an increasingly older demographic, Italy’s Chamber of Fashion has been hard-pressed to render the ready-to-wear shows (which has already been shortened to five days and a few hours) more diverse and filled with enticing young acts.
Two Japanese creatives Chika Kisada and Atsushi Nakashima stood out on Sunday night for their innovative, cutting-edge designs and creative irony. The first offered a refreshing reprieve from the status quo with her architected, modernist, ballet-themed collection crafted with padded fabrics, silk, romantic lace and petticoats, worn on the outside, rather than on the inside. The latter crafted a collection of patchwork outerwear prints and silk kimonos for men and women. Igniting the curiosity of his guests, Nakashima handed out a product called the Ohyama Method -- a box containing two ergonomic, crystal gel foot braces said to stabilize the body’s axis and improve proper muscle usage.
Backstage at the MARIOS Fall/Winter 2019 show in Milan. Photos: Courtesy of PR.
Things got funky at MARIOS, a Milan-based brand founded in 2002 by Greek Cypriot designer Mayo Loizou and Polish performer Leszek Chmielewski where sci-fi was on the menu du jour. The duo already has a flagship store in Tokyo and it was clear that their techno-inspired collection spoke to a consumer from another world.
MARIOS' aim was to create a collection of unique pieces that could enhance one’s personalized look with an unbridled freedom of expression. As the live performance of Estonian techno DJs of Hall played in the background, the brand rolled out a collection that contained see-through, bear-all nylon dresses, blouses and stockings, as well as bat shaped blouses and dresses, was just the thing to jolt us out of our slumber. No wonder it was dubbed “Everything is Forbidden.”
Prada Fall/Winter 2019 show in Milan. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.
Futuristic mystery and dystopian romance were among some of the main themes this week, as more mainstream acts like GCDS took cues from film noir and Prada played out a tormented love saga that caused the silky flowers to droop on smart wool skirts and silk dresses.
Elsewhere, there was no shortage of accessories acts.
Bologna-based Officina del Poggio, the label established in 2014 by Corpus Christi, Texas, native Allison Hoeltzel, also made a splash onto the Milan scene on Sunday. Hoeltzel’s collection is inspired by iconic styles like vintage binocular cases and motorcycle bags. Crafted in Florence by local artisans with high-end vachetta leather and vegetable dyes, she has now started using eco-sustainable materials to satisfy the growing demand for eco-friendly goods. "More and more, my clients are requesting environmentally friendly materials," Hoeltzel said. Later this year, her pieces will be available on Goop.com, Moda Operandi and in several Barney's locations in the US.
Finishing off fashion week Monday morning, Portuguese act Alexandra Moura studied the work of Rosa Ramalho, a famous ceramist from the North of Portugal. With a sense of Barbican realism infused with a futuristic punk edge, Moura took us to the working life of the countryside of the 21st century – a more virtual, connected one, that is.
Alexandra Moura Fall/Winter 2019 show in Milan. Photos: Courtesy of PR.
Plaids and ruffles were abstractly placed and patched together in a collection that was amped up by synthetic materials and a jovial dose of metallic explosions here and there.
In general, despite an uptick in overall revenues for the Italian fashion and retail sector, it might just be one of the most difficult moments to emerge as a new and/or young designer in the history of fashion.
With a roster of 60 fashion shows, 81 presentations, and 33 events, nine were new acts, many of whom were supported by Italy's Chamber of Fashion. Start-up brands are dealing with an increasingly competitive playing field, as markets across the worlds become saturated with choices and a surplus of goods.
Consumers around the globe are becoming more prudent and selective when purchasing new items, as concerns over the environment grow. The World Economic forum recently released data that showed that the fashion and retail industry is responsible for 10 percent of all gas emissions, which is more emissions than all the international flights and shipping combined. In addition, three in five items bought are thrown away within a year.
As the Italian fashion industry struggles to meet is sustainability goals by 2025, rising raw material and energy costs still make it difficult for young entrepreneurs to adopt a sustainable business model and access high-priced eco-sustainable fabrics and components.
However, with a more globalized mindset and openness to international acts and ides, the industry here may just meet its targets.