Milan Fashion Week

Milan Fashion WeekFollow the FT’s latest reports from Milan Fashion Week.

Fashion designers get inspiration from all sorts of places: leaves (Valentino Garavani once told me the green in a dress he made came from some leaf he had picked up in Hyde Park and carried back to his atelier), true life stories (this season John Galliano made an entire collection about a 1920s con artist), and, occasionally, other designers.

Consider these two pictures: 

Skirts are not the only thing getting longer this season; so, apparently, are job titles. Tom Florio, the ex-VP of the Vogue Group (which once consisted of four magazines but shrank during the recession to two magazines and some web sites) has just landed at IMG, the sports/fashion management monolith, as “Senior Advisor for Fashion to the Office of the Chairman.” It’s a mouthful.

It also sounds awfully like those Minister Without Portfolio titles beloved by so many heads of state, and almost always disliked by everyone else (like cabinet ministers), who feel said minister is spending too much time interfering in other people’s official and titular business.

Certainly the fact that Mr Florio’s job “will be…identifying new, high margin product offerings across all of IMG’s Fashion related businesses” (this from the press release) cannot be encouraging for the folks currently at IMG’s fashion-related business, who apparently were not so good at identifying those opportunities themselves. To allay such fears Florio told the New York Post that when you work with an entrepreneur like IMG chief Ted Forstmann, titles were “irrelevant.”

How reassuring. If you believe that, you might be interested to know Hermes is for sale. 

So Milan fashion week is over, which means I can finally report back on a little theory vs. reality experiment I’ve been conducting. As part of its new, improved fashion week, the Camera Nazionale (the organising body for Italian fashion) was offering attending editors the change to “Go Green!” via bike sharing. The Camera was very pleased with itself about this. Check out their announcement:

“Since 2008, the Milanese people can use Bike-MI, a fast, ecological, and easy way of moving in the city and Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana wants to promote the bike-sharing service in the all Fashion World. CNMI always aware of the environmental issue, wish to those who has chosen to be environmental friendly a nice ride!” 

One of the more surprising collaborations of the season was unveiled last night in the gardens of the Bulgari Hotel in Milan, amid tinkling champagne glasses and tiny lacquered pots of mozzarella and steamed Branzino. 

This sculpture was just installed in the piazza in front of the former Milanese stock exchange. It’s by the Paduan artist Maurizio Cattelan, who’s having a big exhibit in the Palazzo Reale.  

Something interesting is percolating up in Milanese fashion, and it has nothing to do with runways.

It has to do with things like “sustainability” and “long-term thinking” and “self-preservation” – also “procreation”, with emphasis on the latter part of the word.

To be specific, it has to do with the industry finally thinking about its own future, and the fact that if it’s going to have one, it has to start working on the logistics. Which means, at its most basic level, supporting young designers. 

Fashion, especially during show time, is not politically correct. This we know. It is, despite momentary urges to prove itself otherwise, sexist (when it comes to models, there’s a big gender imbalance in pay, though not necessarily the way you think); ageist; and size-ist (the latter two do not really need explanation).