Back from Milan Fashion Week, I am trying to return to normal life; to sitting quietly and writing, doing the laundry, and preparing my kids’ lunchboxes, planning our weekends ahead. I feel like a kid who’s been watching TV all day: it is hard to adjust my inner world to the outer one again, because the real world looks dull; drained of colours and magic, vibrance and emotions. 

After slowly coming back to my routine, I can finally sit with empty paper and write about the whole experience. 

A lot has changed about Fashion Weeks since the time I worked for NY Fashion Weeks at Bryant Park. Though you may be expecting a “trend report” from me, I would like to give you a different perspective on Fashion Weeks today. I want to share with you what has changed and how many original and exciting events are happening within Fashion Weeks but away from the traditional runway. 

Milan Fashion Week

The thing is that, for years, people have been arguing about the death of Fashion Weeks. And yet they still very much exist. Tracing back more than 75 years, a lot has changed. As VOX reports: 

Depending on whom you ask, it’s turned into a bloated and outdated trade show for an industry that has evolved beyond it, or a parade of influencer narcissism, or an overcommercialized slog where nobody has any original ideas anymore.

Having been to Milan Fashion Week this year, I have to agree and disagree with this statement. If we look back at the original idea behind Fashion Weeks, the change is huge. Fashion Weeks started simply as “press weeks”, where editors and buyers would get a chance to preview the collections and larger trends that would hit clothing racks in six months. 

Today, Fashion Weeks have changed mainly because of consumers’ desire to experience original fashion and not be left out of the conversation. Hence fashion designers and brands are trying to find more innovative and imaginative ways to present their clothes through stories that reach their customers, no matter where they are. 

Milan Fashion Week Street Style

The competition at the moment is focused more on the way designers present and market their collections. It seems like it is more about the show than the clothes. At the same time, the attention at Fashion Week is very much split with another industry that is exploding away from the runway: the street style influencers who continue to threaten the traditional system (in which magazine editors held almost absolute power in directing public opinion of fashion trends). Influencers and fashion fans literally turn the streets in front of the designer shows into another exciting runway, commanding the attention of, and communicating directly with, like-minded fashion fans who were previously shut out of the conversation. Very often, new trends are born and promoted directly on the street right in front of the big brands’ fashion shows. 

Milan Fashion Week New Trends

Milan Fashion Week

Milan Fashion Week

Street Style Fashion

Street Style

AmiAya

Milan Fashion Week Street Style

Talking about originality, I believe this is more often found away from the traditional runway than inside the Fashion Week venues (with a few exceptions — e.g. JLo and her green dress at Versace, which was also a very original idea to break social media!). Here are a few examples:

The Fashion Hub Market/The future of Craftsmanship 

The 7th Edition of Fashion Hub Market featured six emerging brands prêt-à-porter and accessory collections. Apnoea, Carmelina Raco, Caterina Gatta, Delirious, Vanta Design Studio, Woobag are all brands that have developed their collections with a strong belief in the continuation of handcrafting and traditional ways of producing apparel and accessories. With that edition Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana wants to underline how the new generation of Italian designers is supporting and preserving these techniques, which in our current period are often forgotten.

For the first time an entire space within Spazio Cavallerizze was dedicated to a selection of 4 young African brands who also presented their 2020 spring/summer collections during Milano Fashion Week. 

CNMI’s choice reflects Africa’s increasingly important role in the fashion system, as a new generation of designers is reasserting the powerful identity of African fashion. The four brands featured in the Fashion Hub show dynamic inspirations and creativity, the unique traits of a long tradition of craftsmanship, a focus on sustainability and engagement in concrete ethical projects.

Fashion Hub Milan

EXPRESS YOURSELF

Set in the splendid scenery of the Milan Fashion District, along Via della Spiga, I couldn’t miss another amazing project outside of the Fashion Runways. The Marie Claire’s multimedia exhibition, entitled EXPRESS YOURSELF told the taste for fashion through 24 large photos, characterized by an innovative and avant-garde spirit. 

Here is the whole idea behind this artistic-couture project: Imagine getting a large suitcase full of new clothes. To choose and wear the one that best fits your style and then take self-portraits. Three model-photographers and an actress-artist have accepted Marie Claire’s challenge, celebrating the power and beauty of telling oneself through clothes. Shae DeTar is an artist who loves open spaces and metamorphoses, Tea Falco creates surreal collages, Laura Kampman prefers black and white. Louise Parker is inspired by the noir cinema with digital effects. 

IT’S SHOE TIME! 

How could I ever missed that? MICAM is the footwear industry’s leading international trade fair, a one-of-a-kind event with over 2000 footwear collections at each edition, successfully melting business and fashion. This September however MICAM was celebrating its 50th anniversary with an immersive digital exhibition at MUDEC, It’s Shoe Time! The exhibition, realized with video mapping technology told the evolution of costume and fashion through footwear, highlighting its design and style from the 70s to today. Another interesting take was an exclusive perspective on the way in which the shop windows have become adequate throughout history, reaching up to today’s store of the future where technology, virtual customization and digitalization prevail.

MICAM

The Time Capsule Exhibition

Maison Louis Vuitton takes us on a history tour, celebrating its link with the city of Milano, which welcomed the French House in Italy thirty-five years ago. In a thematic itinerary, the exhibition tells the story of Louis Vuitton as a forerunner in anticipating travellers’ desires and needs since its founding 165 years ago. The exhibition demonstrates the French House avant-garde and imaginative spirit when zit comes to their creations and support towards the evolution of transport. 

The exhibition is held in the Piazzetta Reale from 20 September to 20 October and it is open to the public.