Milan Fashion Week

Blame Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel (or maybe even the eight female ministers that make up half of the cabinet of Matteo Renzi, Italy’s new prime minister), but these days trouser suits and women in power just seem to go together like, well, jackets and pants.

LVMH has confirmed it has taken a minority stake in Young Italian Designer (we will not acronym that for obvious reasons) Marco de Vincenzo, making him the second such up-and-comer to receive such investment from the luxury behemoth, and underscoring the increasing competition among the established groups to identify, and potentially own, new talent. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but there’s no question, it’s putting its money where its mouth is. At least some money. Read more

Kiev was burning and in Milan, Jeremy Scott made his debut at Moschino with a series of bad jokes. This is not the non sequitur it might first appear. Mr Scott could not have known, of course, when he was designing his riff on Moschino/McDonald’s – his pun on fast food and fast fashion realised in red and yellow bourgeois suiting complete with golden arches-cum-hearts or Sponge Bob yellow and black polka dots, his evening silks with junk food prints, his gold-chain-bedecked quilted leather mini suits – what would be going on in the world when it was shown. But that does not matter.

OK, that headline is a bit of an exaggeration; luxury still loves its LA brand ambassadors. But when it comes to fashion week, it’s a legitimate question. Looking at the reports from last night’s Emmy awards, it suddenly hit me that there have been almost no Hollywood moments during Milan Fashion Week. Even given the date clash, and the fact that some may have had to be in the awards auditorium, there are plenty of movie stars who would have been available. No to mention rock stars. So I wonder: Have we finally come to the end? Has the luxury/celebrity balance of power finally shifted? Read more

For all scholars of the Conde Nast kingdom and its inner workings: Anna Wintour has made another move in her new role as Artistic Director of Conde Nast. Last night Milan Fashion Week opening with what will indubitably be the party of the week: a shindig, hosted at La Scala by Conde Nast (the American version) to celebrate the donation of five scholarships to five Italian students in fashion, art, film and journalism. The great and the good were all there, and tenor Vittorio Grigolo sang. When I asked various CN execs about it, most of them said, “It was Anna’s thing” – though CEO Charles Townsend was also key. Either way it suggests a certain kind of strategic thinking that isn’t necessarily just about altruism or opera. Read more

Anyone else think this is a halcyon time for young designers? I mean, first the big luxury groups make their first investments in new names since way back at the turn of the millennium (back in the day when Tom Ford built Gucci Group by adding Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen), with Kering buying a majority of Christopher Kane and a big minority of Joseph Altuzarra, and LVMH helping out Maxime Simoens, and reportedly scouting JW Anderson. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Read more

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:
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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!

What changed?

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.

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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.
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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.

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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

Follow the FT’s reports from the final day of Milan Fashion Week.  Read more

Interestingly, given all that has been written about the hoo-ha of brands placing bloggers in their front row and the supposedly retrograde reaction of the established glossy press (yikes! Barbarians at the gate! and all that) this week American Glamour has invited – and imported, on their own budget – five of the “guest bloggers” on their new “Young & Posh Blogger network,” part of their website, to Milan, to see some shows, meet some designers, and otherwise become part of the family. If you can’t beat ‘em, employee them. Read more

Follow the FT’s latest reports from Milan Fashion Week.  Read more

To all those fashion pundits who keep prophesying the rise of local Chinese brands, and then crying – if not “doom!” then at least “watch out” – when discussing what that might possibly mean for the rest of the fashion world (the ones who currently act like they have a lock on the lucrative Asian market), here is a message: last night their visions (dreams? nightmares?) came true.  Read more