wwd Fashion Features

Milan Fashion Week Returns in Full Force With IRL Shows

MILAN — The debut of Matthieu Blazy at Bottega Veneta and of Trussardi’s new course under the creative direction of Serhat Işık and Benjamin A. Huseby of GmbH are just a few of the events to circle in red on the calendar of Milan Fashion Week, which officially runs Feb. 22 to 28.

This season is expected to mark a return in full force of physical fashion events in the city, as the schedule unveiled on Tuesday includes 57 IRL runway shows out of a total of 65 shows, as well as 69 presentations, 59 of which will be hosted in person.

In addition to Bottega Veneta and Trussardi, Gucci will return to Milan as part of the official calendar, after having experimented with digital formats and, most recently, decamped to Los Angeles. Instead of its traditional Wednesday slot, the Florentine fashion house will stage its show on Friday, Feb. 25, the same day in which Versace will present its women’s wear-only collection since the Medusa brand decided to switch from the coed format starting this year.

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The Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani brands will return to the physical format, too, after Armani forwent his men’s shows in Milan last month as well as his Privé show in Paris due to the surge of the Omicron variant.

Diesel will stage its first physical show under the tenure of Glenn Martens on Feb. 23, followed by the Fendi show. On Feb. 24 — the day of the Max Mara, Prada and Moschino shows — the Plein Sport brand will be relaunched with a runway event to be staged at the historic palazzo Philipp Plein has recently bought in central Milan to establish a branded hotel.

While Salvatore Ferragamo will skip the runway show format in favor of a presentation to be held on Feb. 26, Ferrari will head to Milan to present its second collection under the creative direction of Rocco Iannone after the inaugural one unveiled in Maranello last year.

Palm Angels will return to Milan, too, while Ambush and Aniye Records will stage their shows in the city for the first time. Italian emerging brands are also stepping up their game switching from presentations to runway shows, including Andreādamo and Cormio, among others.

Key presentations will include the collaboration between Max&Co. with Efisio Rocco Marras and Weekend Max Mara’s “Habito” project by Patricia Urquiola, as well as the relaunch of the Balestra brand.

Events will range from the Bulgari B.Zero1 Aurora Awards hosted with Vogue Italia at the Bocconi University to the screening of the “Elio Fiorucci — Free Spirit” documentary at the Triennale museum, which was postponed from last month for safety reasons.

In presenting the rich calendar showcasing a total of 169 events, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana’s president Carlo Capasa sounded confident about the attendance at the shows and the overall state of the industry.

According to preliminary figures he presented, in the first 11 months of 2021 sales of the fashion industry (including textiles, clothing, leather goods and footwear) grew 20.8 percent compared to the same period in 2020. The overall sector (including fashion, jewelry, eyewear and cosmetics) is expected to register over 83 billion euros in sales in 2021, up 20.9 percent compared to the previous year but still down 7.8 percent compared to 2019.

“We have recovered two-thirds of what we lost during the pandemic, 16 billion euros out of the 24 billion euros. Now we hope to recover the remaining 8 billion euros this year, returning to pre-pandemic levels one year than forecast,” said Capasa.

According to preliminary data, in 2021 exports of the overall sector increased 21 percent to almost 68 billion euros. In the first 10 months of 2021, exports of the fashion industry to China, the U.S. and France grew 50.1 percent, 32.8 percent and 20.6 percent, respectively. The U.K. was the only country among the top 10 export destinations for Italian fashion to report a negative trend, decreasing 18.3 percent.

As for the overall sector, in the same period, exports to the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and the U.S. reported increases of 103.2 percent, 76 percent and 57.9 percent, respectively.

Fashion operators from these countries are expected to attend the shows in Milan, along with buyers and press from Russia and “even South Korea and Japan,” said Capasa.

International attendance will be boosted by the government’s decision to accept fashion operators immunized with vaccines not recognized by the European Medicines Agency, including Sputnik V. During the fashion week, these operators will be able to get the reinforced Green Pass required to access events with a negative PCR test to be taken 48 hours prior arrival in Italy and every 72 hours during their stay in the country.

According to Capasa, buyers from China will be the only missing cluster. To this end, the Italian fashion chamber has inked a partnership with Tencent Video to boost the visibility of the shows there.

Capasa also presented the updated protocol signed by the chamber and Milan’s municipality, further strengthening their partnership for the next three years. One of the key topics included in the agreement, the promotion of young talent, will be reinstated during Milan Fashion Week.

Opening the event, the We Are Made in Italy, or WAMI, collective will spotlight five Black, Indigenous and people of color talents. The designers showcased will include Sheetal Shah; Judith Borsetto; Nyny Ryke Goungou; Zineb Hazim, and Romy Calzado.

As reported, the fashion chamber and Valentino have partnered on a project that each season will allow a young guest designer to present his or her fashion collection on the Rome-based company’s Instagram platform. The first designer chosen for the initiative, Marco Rambaldi will unveil his latest effort on Feb. 23.

Other initiatives will include the new “Designers for Ethical Fashion” project showcasing brands that shine a light on women victims of violence, migrants and refugees; the fifth edition of “Designer for the Planet” highlighting five sustainable labels, and the Budapest Select promoting seven Hungarian emerging brands, among others.