The making of Milan Fashion Week
As the city prepares to dazzle under the spotlight during Milan Fashion Week (February 19-23), 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.
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.
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.
2000 and beyond
Today the city’s famous fashion district is bordered by Via Montenapoleone, Via Manzoni, Corso Venezia and Via della Spiga. It’s here that 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 of Milan’s prestigious palaces such as Palazzo Morando, which is now home to the city’s fashion museum. Alternatively, head to Porta Nuova, the city’s coolest fashion hub for all the latest looks.