The making of Milan Fashion Week
As the city prepares to dazzle under the spotlight during Milan Fashion Week, we take a look back at why it’s one of the world’s leading fashion highlights of the year.
February is every fashionista’s favourite month, thanks to a wealth of shows in London, Paris and Milan. The prestigious Italian city alone is the location for over 170 shows and presentations, promoting many of the most well-known fashion houses around the global. It’s also an opportunity to spot and support new talent, as fashion continues to evolve in exciting ways ‒ something models, designers, photographers, bloggers, journalists and style icons all clamber to experience.
Throughout the 1950s, important fashion shows were held in Milan, Rome and Venice for American buyers, whose love of Italian fashion was driven by the huge success of Rome’s famous Cinecittà film studio and its well-known movie stars.
The rise of ready-to-wear fashion was huge in the 1960s, making exciting new designs far more accessible. During this time Milan became home to the prestigious Italian publishers Rusconi, Mondadori and Rizzoli, known for their interest and expertise in fashion and cultural history.
During the 1970s, MilanoVendeModa, the forerunner to Milan Fashion Week, was launched and hosted its first event in a big top circus tent, on the outskirts of the city. In 1978, Giorgio Armani hit the headlines when he dressed Diane Keaton for her Oscar win as the leading actress in Annie Hall. The Italian designer also dressed Richard Gere for his role in American Gigolo, making Giorgio Armani one of the most recognisable symbols of Milanese fashion.
Image © Andrea Delbo
Major new fashion names began to emerge in the 1980s, including legendary design houses such as Gianfranco Ferrè, Valentino, and Versace. Milan firmly established itself as one of the world’s most prominent fashion capitals and a symbol of cutting-edge design and forward thinking.
Image © Ty Lim
Milan maintained its fashionable reputation in the nineties, thanks in part to the popularity of established local fashion house Prada’s new ready to wear collection. Following the opulence of the 1980s, the main aesthetic in this era was a paired down look. Rich colours became less popular in favour of subtle nude shades and monochrome designs, while fabrics grew evermore experimental.
Image © CervelliInFuga
The city’s famous fashion district is firmly established between Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia and Via della Spiga. It’s here you’ll find all the big fashion house names, side by side with smaller specialist boutiques from up and coming new designers. Among these splendid streets you’ll also discover Milan’s prestigious palaces such as Palazzo Morando, which became home to the city’s fashion museum in 2010.
Image © Andrea Parisi
Now more than ever fashion is focussing on sustainability and responsible innovation. As awareness continues to grow around making ‘green purchases’, garments made from faux leather, organic cotton and biodegradable and recycled materials are set to be the centre of attention. Big Italian brands leading the way include Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Prada. Alternatively, head to the cool Porta Nuova district for all the latest looks from lesser-known names.
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