Oooh, the trash talk out of Milan. Having finally woken up to the fact that London Fashion Week is getting buzzier, and that such a development could be a threat to Milan, its collections, and the related economic windfall that comes to a city during showtime, Milanese designers are joining forces to defend their territory – but the infighting has already begun. The gossip and name-calling is fun to watch, but behind it is a real issue currently afflicting every fashion week: the tension between national industry interest and a brand’s self-interest. Read more
Marni's sunglasses with “excavated details”. Getty Images
Today is travel day as the fashion flock heads to Paris. Looking back over the past week in Italy, I was struck by the fact that of all the trends to come out of Milan – fur, leather, dominatrix gear, (I’m not kidding about this last one) – the biggest one is the sudden trumpeting, by pretty much every brand, of “Made in Italy”.
From Dolce & Gabbana and their mosaic dresses to Fendi’s extraordinary fur melange, it was artisanship all the way. You just need to read the show notes, supposedly to help journalists understand what a collection is about, but in reality mostly serve as pre-show entertainment.
Take Marni, for example, “the colour palette is severe, with turbulent peaks”; sunglasses have “excavated details”. Or from Armani: “calculated eccentricity shines through in berets featuring special workmanship in woven velvet, their spherical forma adorning the head.” I’ll be tweeting the best ones, so follow us on @FTLuxury360 for some real prose treats. Read more
Making the rounds at Milan fashion week this season has been interesting; people keep talking about their Big New Idea to improve the Italian fashion business. Consensus seems to be: something needs to be done. But what? Here are some of the suggestions:
As I was leaving Italy after Milan Fashion Week, I was chatting to Guglielmo Miani, the young-ish CEO of Larusmiani, a family-owned manufacturer of luxurious materials, when he let drop an interesting fact. Last week the Italian government quietly changed the law it passed in November that banned retail establishments from accepting more than €1,000 in cash. Surprise!
Now, retail establishments have no limit on the cash they can accept from foreigners, as long as they take a photocopy of said foreigner’s passport. I’ll say that again: no limit. Italians are still restricted to €1,000. Read more
“We Are All Guilty for this Mess,” according to Suzy Menkes, fashion editor of the International Herald Tribune. In a heartfelt piece in her newspaper, my fellow Fashion Week traveller and friend took the fashion industry (herself included) to task for the very public soap opera that is the current round of designer switcheroos, in which bystanders gossip and place bets and tweet about real jobs and real people like they are characters in a reality television game.
It’s tough and honest and has people buzzing at the shows, and I recommend you read it, but I’m also not sure I entirely agree with it. I think she’s right about the situation, but doesn’t fully get to the cause. Read more
Most fashion houses are understandably cagey about who they are dressing for the Oscars, the most lucrative red carpet marketing event of the year, which takes place this Sunday in Los Angeles. However, as I’ve been making the rounds of the Milan shows, some bits and bobs of information have come leaking out. The fear, of course, in spilling the beans is that in the end you are proved wrong (see post on Adele at the Grammys). The dressing game isn’t over until the celebrity actually exits the limo, but a few designers were willing to go on the record. Read more
The London 2012 Olympics may not start until July, but Stella McCartney’s personal marathon begins in February. The designer, who is creating the uniforms for Team GB, has agreed to return to London Fashion Week for a one-off extravaganza on February 18. This follows a pre-collection presentation in NY in January and a perfume launch, and precedes her usual autumn/winter collection show in Paris. Expect drumrolls of pre-publicity, fights for tickets, clogged thoroughfares — expect, in other words, an effective dry run for the Olympics proper. Especially when it comes to competition.
Pirelli – it’s not just about tyres and tastefully sexed-up calendars anymore. As of this week, it’s also about fashion, as a new 1,500 square metre store, on prime real estate off ur-shopping drag Montenapoleone, demonstrated. It features rubber! A lot of it.
Tomorrow Gucci will become the first big kahuna to show on day one of Milan Fashion Week – OMG! OMG! — but they’ve already jumped the buzz-generating gun by sending out a curtain-raiser of an announcement: they’ve found a way to make the sci-fi technology of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film “Minority Report” real, and they are putting it in stores.
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who has the best fashion week of all?
Such appears to be the refrain of the moment in Paris and Milan. Perhaps it is because of the historic rivalry. It’s like siblings: Who is better? Bigger? More creative? Who knows more powerful people? Who gets more attention? Perhaps it is because lately it seems as if every country is starting at least one, if not two, fashion weeks of their own, but Milan and Paris seem to be doing their utmost to add more designers to their schedule, thereby increasing their reach and power and asserting their primacy in this notably hierarchical world. Read more