Bottega Veneta, Ferragamo, and Marni Lead a Weird Milan Fashion Week

Davis, Blazy, and Risso make very different work, but they are deeply embedded in international creative communities and also have strong local links. One local told me he had seen the Blazy more times in the past few weeks than his own friends; the French and Belgian native frequents Bar Quadronno, a neighborhood paninoteca that serves as a watering hole for Milan’s art and design crowd. Blazy even named a Bottega bag after the spot.

Of course, it’s a generational thing. Back in the day, Miuccia Prada was a Quadronno regular, too. (When she opened the Wes Anderson-designed Bar Luce at the Fondazione Prada, she’s reputed to have had the new staff train with Quadronno’s panini artists for months.) But it’s been a while since Milan’s creative establishment has, you know, hung out. Mrs. Prada, Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani, Domenico Dolce, Stefano Gabbana—all are very rich, very famous, and range from fairly to very old. Which hasn’t done anything to help Milan Fashion Week beat its reputation as being too commercial and traditional.

I don’t want to overstate the importance of designers spending time at bars, but I do think it speaks to the dynamism of Davis, Blazy, and Risso’s recent collections. Their clothes and shows and brand universes have an almost organic quality, an openness to the kinds of surprising new ideas that emerge through collaboration. And in turn they are contributing to Milan’s rebound as a genuinely exciting fashion hub.

At Marni, Risso’s touch was quite literally manifest in the clothes, like a group of stunning leather frocks, coats, and jeans painted all over with wavy brushstrokes: call it Marn-pressionism. In a preview before the show, Risso told me that he and his team had constructed a paper cave (yes) in the Marni studio to remove distractions as they designed the collection; he had also banished reference images and mood boards. “We realized that the departure from references kind of allowed instinct to be alive,” he told me. There was a primal vibe throughout, most evident in leopard-print tunics fit for Fred Flinstone. For Risso, the process is as important as the final product, and both reflect the contributions of the merry pranksters he’s brought into his kooky universe, like the deeply original stylist Carlos Nazario, and the equally inspired composer Dev Hynes, who is behind the crazily ethereal show soundtracks. The non-model specialists at Midland take care of the singular and funky casting, which was the best of the week. Risso’s friend Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada told me recently that Marni reminds her of an experimental downtown NYC brand more than anything. I’d add that the only difference is Marni has real resources: the large venue for Friday’s show was completely papered over, just like the studio. Held in the cave, the afterparty had a real Bushwick rave feel to it. And it’s clearly connecting in Marni’s home town. “Literally every single person I know in Milan is going to the Marni party,” said a local friend who knows a lot of people.

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Marco M. Mantovani/Getty Images

At Ferragamo on Saturday morning, Maximilian Davis delivered a focused and clear idea for men centered around heavy melton wool overcoats with thick belts unbuckled around the waist. Backstage the 28-year-old Manchester native explained that those “military utilitarian details” had been sourced from his fascination with the style of the 1920s. Through the show the coats became blazers and formal jackets; the proportions continued to shrink with chunky knit cardigans and camp shorts in Prada-ish off-colors. The styling helped the simple men’s silhouettes stand out, with refreshingly clashy contrasts breaking up this season’s parade of dull monochrome, and silhouettes that played chunky sweaters off of teeny-tiny camp shorts. The thigh-highs, meanwhile, were treated with subtlety. Backstage, I spotted the veteran stylist Lotta Volkova, whose work with Balenciaga and lately Miu Miu has turned “real” style archetypes into the height of fashion. Davis brought her in for the first time this season, and I hope their collaboration continues. Like Risso, Davis knows that his crew—which also includes the likes of Paloma Elsesser, Paul Hameline, and fashion consultant Zainab Jama, all of whom walked in the show—makes the world around the clothes, and thus the clothes themselves, much more interesting. His afterparty was, fittingly, at a small local bar.

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