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New voices, familiar roots: Milan Fashion Week in transition for HW24

By Jule Scott


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Bottega Veneta FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

While London Fashion Week was dominated by young, creative talent, Milan Fashion Week once again held on to the old guard. Although Glenn Martens' democratic approach at Diesel, with its thousands of virtual guests with backstage passes, injected the first day of Milan Fashion Week with a touch of innovation and change. The remaining events, however, upheld what the Italian city has long been known for: big brands, commercial collections and, above all, Prada.

Essentially, there's nothing wrong with doing what you do best – something most Milanese designers heavily focused on this season – but in the midst of a changing luxury landscape, it begs the question whether more of the same is really what the industry, and more importantly customers, wants. It's an age-old question that many designers, either with their highly anticipated debut collection or the perhaps more significant sophomore outing at the helm of a brand, had to answer for Fall/Winter 2024.

Caught between history, nostalgia, and the future

Many designers tend to look back first to take a step forward, as seemed to be the case with Adrian Appiolaza, who made his debut as creative director at Moschino. The new direction of the Italian brand, which was once founded by Franco Moschino with a wink, wit and a political agenda, and then fully bet on camp under Jeremy Scott, was eagerly awaited by most. Not an easy task for Appiolaza, who only took over the management of Moschino in January of this year. 

Moschino FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Not an easy task for Appiolaza, who only took over the management of Moschino in January of this year. Perhaps the timing explains the designer's choice to carefully work his way through the archives of the brand's founder, while at the same time re-anchoring the brand in everyday life. Of course, humour was not lost, nor was the political aspect or Moschino's familiar iconography. There were slogans – most recognizably a call for peace emblazoned on a knitted dress – surreal clouds, smileys, and plenty of Italian archetypes. What was perhaps missing at the end of the day was both novelty and a sense of what Appiolaza's Moschino will stand for in the coming seasons.

The fact that debut collections are a thankless task in many respects is widely recognised. Expectations are too high, critics are harsh and commercial success will only become apparent in a few months' time. One designer who might well tell you a thing or two about these issues is Gucci's creative director Sabato De Sarno. His debut and the accompanying redesign of the Italian fashion house was arguably the most talked about event of recent years, but ultimately fell short of many people's high expectations. While his first collection is due to hit boutiques in the coming days and will finally provide an insight into the commercial viability of his vision, his second womenswear collection for autumn/winter 2024 already shows a more assured hand than his debut offering.

Gucci FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Still grounded in “reality”, as De Sarno describes it in his show notes, the designer added a sprinkling of sparkles this season while continuing to focus heavily on tailoring, coats, "Ancora red" and the Gucci logo. The collection focussed on structure and sex appeal, with legs as the focal point, clad in thigh-high patent boots that revealed just a few inches of skin where the short hemlines ended. Boyish short suits and boxy jackets met structured monochrome sets, coats, and dresses with fringes and glitter, as well as slip dresses and lingerie details.

If some looks were reminiscent of the past, perhaps for some it wasn't necessarily or overtly Gucci's, but Prada's – a phenomenon not limited to De Sarno or Gucci, but one that has been a recurring theme of late. Last season, Vanessa Friedman, chief fashion critic of the New York Times, labelled Miuccia Prada the muse of the season. While the timing of her image on the current cover of US Vogue is certainly somewhat coincidental, the power of Prada this season is undeniable.

Same old story?

A major difference between Prada and Gucci, however, is that Prada, as so often, focuses on history rather than reality. The duo Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons “embed fashion in fragments of history to explore the notion of beauty and a contemporary world shaped by memories”, as they explained in their press release for autumn/winter 2024.

Prada FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

In many ways, the collection was a continuation of what the brand presented as part of its menswear collection in January. The womenswear pieces mirrored the looks presented for men, but at the same time included “clichés of femininity” – bows, ruffles, flounces, all hallmarks of the current "Coquette"trend – that Prada wanted to re-evaluate. Skirts experimented with contrasts, combining delicate silks with fitted wools; biker and bomber jackets and knitwear were transformed with the help of nostalgic memories and slim silhouettes favoured vertical lines, reimagining proportions.

Blumarine FW24 Credits ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

Blumarine was also reimagined, but some things remained the same. Former Tod's creative director Walter Chiapponi marked his debut with a departure from Y2K and its butterflies, rooting the collection in romance rather than grand revelation. His collection is reminiscent of the luxury he presented during his time at Tod's, albeit far less austere and quiet. The new creative director of Tod's, Matteo Tamburini, however, seems to have picked up where Walter Chiapponi left off, even if he has introduced a metal band instead of a flashy logo and slightly more casual cuts for the clothes.

“The act of dressing”

One brand where “same old, same old” seems to have found a winning formula is Bottega Veneta. Matthieu Blazy has carefully and confidently crafted the Italian brand since his acclaimed debut in 2022, with textures, details and tailoring becoming his signatures. His approach to everyday wear is not necessarily perceived as wearable at all times, but rather changes the approach to everyday dressing and the traditional forms of familiar clothing each season, but without making them unrecognisable.

Bottega Veneta FW24 Credits: ©Launchmetrics/spotlight

This season, models were wrapped in oversized coats with different textures and bold details, with the colour palette ranging from muted tones to bright reds and greens. Materials were varied, from cosy wool and robust leather to playful fringes and cotton blends. Jackets and skirts decorated with tassels were reminiscent of past seasons without mimicking them directly, while structured ensembles completed the overall look. In many ways, Blazy's collection and his tenure at Bottega suggest that there is no need to reinvent the wheel every season. Perhaps a steady hand and a profound understanding – not just of the customer, but of the brand itself and the times in which we live – can be more than enough. “In a world on fire, there is something very human about the simple act of dressing,” says Blazy.

Milan Fashion Week