MILAN — Accessories designers didn’t hold back for fall, with innovative treatments increasingly mindful of the environment, and an emphasis on craftmanship, embellishments and attention to detail.
Here is a roundup of the selection in town.
Santoni continued to explore what its traditionally masculine codes look like when reinterpreted with feminine touches for its women’s collection. Last fall’s sculptural homage to its signature double buckle in gold hardware is now a ubiquitous design detail in the line — this time, it came with a crystal application — and the pumps stayed high, and classically shaped. The monkstrap motif also made its way onto a new bag, the Pluto, in a curved asymmetric shape with smooth matte leather, as well as a pair of ballet flats that suggest a more gentle (and comfortable) gender bend. The brand’s expertise in hand painted finishings was still apparent on a pair of ultra-chunky loafers done in an orange hue that nearly matched Santoni’s signature sole.
Bulgari’s colorful collection for fall was aptly called Kaleidoscopia, clearly inspired by the brand’s expertise with gems. Cue the Serpenti Forever Bay shoulder bag, essential and compact, in tangerine, tourmaline, emerald green and lapis. Bulgari’s signature snake-head closure was revisited with three materials: hard stones for the eyes, enamel for the matching scales and metal for the hexagonal studs at the center.
This season, Bulgari elevated the denim fabric into a luxurious patch pattern in the Serpentine Pouch.
A real stunner was the the Serpenti Forever Crystal Dust Suede bag, featuring nearly 11,000 multisized crystals assembled in 16 hours of work on black suede.
An unexpected collaboration with supermodel Kristen McMenamy highlights what the AGL sisters, Sara, Vera and Marianna Giusti, do best: footwear and accessories that are delightfully quirky and increasingly strike a harmony in editorial and commercial viability with standout shapes and color palettes. This is no longer just a ballet flat brand — the collab took AGL into Western territory, with a series of cowgirl boots (both high and low) decked out in silver toes, tone-on-tone stitching, puffy leather uppers and deep purple — McMenamy’s favorite hue, which also happens to be a strong color trend for the season. Elsewhere in the fall 2023 collection, all manner of platform boots prevail and a Greek-column-inspired stacked heel on a series of foldover boots showcase the AGL idiosyncrasy.
2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Cleo, the serpent-like sandal that René Caovilla designed in 1973, after a trip to Naples, as the story goes, where the shoemaker discovered a snake-like Roman bracelet and set to work on recreating it in a heel.
“Every shoe for my father is a piece of him,” said Giorgia Caovilla, René’s daughter, at the brand’s presentation, which pulled actual styles from the archives to showcase, from funky sculptural iterations from the ‘70s to more recent chandelier crystal heels — including a pair that was displayed at New York’s Museum of Modern Art back in 1975. “When he would go on vacation, he would take the shoes with him, just to enjoy. These shoes make him happy.”
To fete the milestone, Caovilla will reissue five archival styles of the Cleo and is also planning a tour of 50 actual archival heels that will make their way to Paris, New York and other locales later this year.
The Unica Furla Earth Limited Edition was introduced at Milan’s Triennale museum, billed as the first Made in Italy bag in biodegradable leather. Furla‘s owner, Giovanna Furlanetto, has long been experimenting with sustainable production processes and thanks to Oleum, which identifies the biodegradable leather line produced by Cyclica, the Unica Furla bags follow a circular production model. The materials are by-products of the food industry and are vegetable tanned with wastewater from oil production. Beeswax or specific salts are used for the finishings on the crossbody model, available in a palette ranging from pink to green, as well as black and white.
There was something for everyone at Casadei‘s “shoe tasting” inside the Four Seasons Hotel, where creative director Cesare Casadei continued to explore the footwear needs of the modern woman. Modern hiker/combat hybrids with oversized soles are still the silhouette du jour, along with a Western ankle boot done in a crackled leather, inspired by a trip to Los Angeles last year where Casadei witnessed the unexpected summer boot trend.
Fall’s stiletto comeback is also a good thing for the brand’s Blade heel; this time it was done in a patent leather thigh-high boot in fire engine red, a black patent ankle style and a crystal evening sandal with a disappearing PVC ankle strap.
The season also introduces handbags to the brand, with five styles named after the Casadei women — including daughter Arianna, who just stepped into the role of chief executive officer and general manager.
It’s no surprise that the spirit of punk is coursing through fashion’s creative minds, with the recent death of Vivienne Westwood. For fall 2023, Jimmy Choo joined the calling, adding tartan prints and diamond-shaped studs to everything from the expected combat boot to more ladylike ballet flats — also adorned with pearls — and tall wedge boots. “Being a Brit, punk is everything,” said creative director Sandra Choi. “It’s identity, it’s that dose of being different. This is about the merging of the two worlds, something princess-y mixing with punk.”
Elsewhere, everything from signature bow-accented flats to smooth leather mules received the pointy-toed treatment in the season’s footwear nod to the 2000s.
Giuseppe Zanotti is the footwear king of bling, but the fall collection is a reminder of the designer’s versatility to trends. Slouchy stiletto boots in patent leather and exaggerated buckle styles had no crystal embellishment, while the popular Intrigo ankle-strap sandal was updated in a satin material. There were still crystals here and feathers there, plus new colorways of the Bebe platform, a bestseller. And while it’s easy to imagine what a rhinestone cowboy, or girl, might look like in Zanotti’s world, the designer’s actual take on the Western trend was surprisingly tame, in smooth leather (black, white, red and bubblegum pink) with neat rows of round crystals on the Cuban heel — one of the best of the season.
Inside the foyer of the Teatro alla Scala, Gianvito Rossi put his twist on cocktails and shoes alike, with an aperitivo that showcased a tightly edited lineup once again focused on statement boots, one of many of Rossi’s design strengths, but also a commercial advantage for the brand. Rossi toggled between classics in soft and patent leathers (some with lace-up details, others with curb-link anklets) and more novelty ideas, such as graduated metal grommets, stamped snake print and a thigh-high, cutout version that reminds trend watchers the style is due for its revival.
The designer’s platform heels and strappy sandals were also still there, some done in feathers, others in a Mary Jane (one iteration strapped up over the knee). A cross section of styles came in a royal purple, the color trend of the season.
Heritage brand Rodo continues to update its evening offerings, focusing on satin and crystal, utilizing a braided crystal hardware detailing on straps and slingbacks of heels and also on the handles of its Berenice bag, which is already gaining traction on the red carpet, having made an appearance on Aubrey Plaza during SAG Awards weekend. The evening lineup, in a palette of fuchsia, purple and royal blue, also includes a new wedge heel in a pump and a sandal, done with an open work structure decorated in crystal baguettes.
For day, croc embossed leather got more texture and hardware buckles went up in size, and both boots and bags were done in soft leather folds and ruching.
Pollini is celebrating its 70th anniversary with the release of a capsule of 10 pieces through its Pollini Archive line that include its Cavaliere boot in a glossy burgundy leather and stacked heel, along with other boot and loafer styles with details from the archives, such as a striped sole from the ‘60s and buckle details from the ‘70s. “We are taking little details from the archives and applying them to styles that follow market trends,” noted style and merchandising director Natalia Battaglini. One handbag and boot combo sees the use of fur, sourced from vintage fur coats and reassembled into a patchwork-like motif on a shoulder style and a convertible stacked boot.
Decamping from Paris, Alexandre Birman had a busy week in Milan, first launching the capsule collection he developed with luxury multibrand store Antonia, and then staging the presentation of his fall 2023 collection at the city’s Palazzo Parigi hotel. Here, the footwear designer showcased a wide array of styles covering all women’s needs, encompassing sandals, flats, pumps, platforms and boots in different heights and materials.
Although dazzling crystal on pointy pumps and flats as well as big bows standing out on velvet mules demanded instant attention, a series of thigh-high boots were actually the highlight of the collection, especially when rendered in a tapestry-like floral jacquard or crafted in sleek leather with a crisscross detailing on the side. Different iterations included lived-in effects on leather and a spiraling crisscross embellishment, which conveyed a tougher look to the boots.
At Hogan, a punkish attitude resonated in the use of creeper soles and mini studs. The former were used for a seasonal reinvention of the signature H-Stripes sneakers crafted from supple leather and transitioned into dressed-up options including chunky loafers and Chelsea boots scattered in studs. A stronger focus on handbags — including a gorgeous tote in faux shearling apt for mountain gateways — and outerwear, nodded to the brand’s lifestyle ambition.
Il Bisonte’s commitment to celebrating craft and local manufacturing, done within a few miles from Florence, was best exemplified in the seasonal Snodo collection, a range of styles including ‘90s mini shoulder bags, half-tambouring crossbodies and structured totes, which came with decorative knots punctuating the handles. Elsewhere, the brand paid homage to his hometown, naming bags after the city’s theaters, including the Esperia lineup of earthy-toned totes framed by a double stitching.
Valextra’s CEO Xavier Rougeaux likens the path he has charted to update the brand’s products to Milan’s buildings: austere on the façade, eclectic and opulent behind gates. For fall, the leather goods specialist struck a balance between investment pieces, including its Iside signature top-handle bag, reworked for example in a drilled leather with metallic accent version or as a metallic cage, and everyday styles. A soft trapeze bag with two handles, also available in a faux-fur version, called Bunny, nodded to Valextra’s more playful side catering to younger consumers. The tote cabat bag called Milano, structured yet soft, was one year in the making and marked the newest addition to the brand’s offering.
At Borsalino, newly installed head of style Jacopo Politi is as passionate about fashion as he is about manufacturing. Aiming to rejuvenate the brand’s offering for Gen Z, he challenged the hatmaker’s artisans with techniques including multicolored cosmo-like dyeing on wide-brim felt fedoras, or the use of seamless tulle to cover the brim and the combination of differently colored felts for the hat’s brim and underbrim. A sparkling touch was provided by lurex thread-accented bands or crystal-bearing hat straps. The brand also introduced its first felt bucket and baseball hats.
Florentine footwear brand Giaborghini also doubled its presentation game, flanking a Milan showcase to its traditional Parisian one. Bold and graphic, the collection referenced the ’90s as well as an R&B aesthetic in its display of camouflage patterns and denim, which joined leather and Lycra in the range. A geometric high heel injected seductiveness in pointed pumps and second-skin boots, including a stretchy over-the-knee style and a knee-length denim option with cargo pockets.
Kate Cate, the cool brand founded by Italian model and globetrotter Caterina Ravaglia and started with a single focus on belts favored by a plethora of “It” girls, has heightened the focus on footwear for fall 2023. Respecting Ravaglia’s rock aesthetic and attention to eco practices, the range included a reedition of the Kate Boot cowboy style, coming with a metallic heel and available in materials spanning from leather in solid tones or in a python-printed version to ponyskin. The higher-heeled Jett Boot design had an even tougher look with its multiple buckles and rhinestones, with a seductive vibe to its knee-high version with laced-up details running on the back.
The collection also included chunky combat boots and an extra-feminine sandal embellished with an eye-catching crystal mesh concealing its heel.
Attendees to the conceptual Boyy presentation installed in the basement of founders Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri Kongman’s stunning home were invited to reconsider the value of ordinary, as the collection reinterpreted the notion of luxury by elevating everyday objects. These included grocery plastic bags, here reinterpreted in a lambskin leather bag printed with images of fruits and veggies and featuring the brand’s logo. One of the founders’ guests arriving on a scooter with all his possessions tucked in the helmet inspired Dorsey and Kongman to replicate the gesture with a custom-made bag with the same shape. Shrunken in size, the fiberglass shell of the bag came with a zipper closure and was finished off with a short chain handle and a long leather shoulder strap.
In another fun and strong collection, Stefano Miele expanded the Haus of Honey fantasy world with new platform sandals, clogs and even Texan boots. Dubbed Marlons, the leather Texan style shone in all its different iterations, ranging from the playful version embellished with patches of teddy bears, flowers and hearts, to the party-ready option covered in crystals. Elsewhere, signature codes of the brand were reinterpreted in new designs, such as the Honey Bubble sculptural soles that also appeared on thigh-high boots in a stretch, close-fitting fabric. Evoking the ‘70s — a constant reference for Miele — the style was rendered in vibrant colors to create popping contrasts, as seen in an acid green version with pink soles.
Alongside a strong lineup of crisp raw denim separates, fuzzy knitwear, military jackets and classic and clean trenches, Philippe Model’s La Grande sneaker got a sustainable update with the introduction of an upcycled capsule of the style. With six colorways for women and seven for men, the sneakers feature deadstock materials, some from the brand’s own archives, all mixed into a patchwork on the ‘90s-basketball-inspired shoe.
The timing is right for Le Silla’s signature style, the Eva, a stiletto pump with a pointed toe and gravity-defying pitch that has been a red carpet staple for the likes of Beyoncé, Cate Blanchett, Julia Fox and Rihanna. Those sharp lines run through the rest of the fall 2023 collection, where creative director Monica Ciabattini has ensured that those looking for sparkle can still find it. Stiletto Western boots, pointed-toe platform pumps, fold-over embellished denim boots and crystal-encrusted hosiery-like thigh-high options are high-impact pieces for the brave maximalist.
After introducing its Spherica sole two years ago, Geox is rolling out the technology, which includes a two-layered Zero Shock System and a breathable waterproof membrane, beyond the usual sneaker offering, applying it to everything from the still-trending lug sole combat boots to tall boots. The result is some of the most lightweight options for said categories. The Spherica sneakers also received luxe materials updates in quilted velvet, suede and a few sparkly jewel tones. Other sneakers incorporated both the regenerated and regenerable nylon yarn Econyl as well as recycled PET fabric.
Mimesi and Crisali are the two new half-moon-shaped shoulder bags that vegan accessories label Themoirè introduced for fall. These added to the staple designs of the brand, which works with natural, recycled or alternative materials for all aspects of the product. This season, new materials employed included the apple snake fabric derived from apple cores and peels; the coffee PU, based on the powder of coffee grounds, and the coconut fiber, derived by the crushing and recovery of all parts of the fruit.
Last September, the company also debuted an eco-friendly footwear range, that for fall was expanded with new mules, boots and flat ballerina styles.
Fratelli Rossetti was in celebratory mood for fall as it marks this year its 70th anniversary. It spurred a wave of nostalgia for its icons, reinvented for modern consumers. Cue the midheeled ankle boots and tapered square-toed tapered pumps embellished with a new decorative rendition of the brand’s signature metal stirrup, or the Brera loafers, which paid homage to the “fiocchetti,” or tassels, introduced by Renzo Rossetti in 1968 and arguably its greatest contribution to the footwear arena. They came in a new embellished version, and the decorative flair was echoed in the “Hobo Soirée” of slippers done in trompe l’oeil velvet and bearing rhinestones.
Dorian Tarantini and Metteo Mena are in their element twisting dormant bourgeois aesthetics for a cooler, younger spin. For their fall Borbonese collection they referenced the strength of American female entrepreneurs in the beauty industry, including Helena Rubinstein and Estée Lauder, with powdery earthy neutrals, the rose-tinged pastels of blushes and the light blues of eye shadows. Infinite, a new maxi hobo bag, had its handle interrupted by two intertwining chain links, while the Tresor mini satchel bag came with a metallic ring covered in the signature OP fabric. Flanked by a small ready-to-wear capsule, the collection featured items done in collaboration with Swarovski, with a new model, Cortina, available in calfskin or recycled fabric, and decorated with crystals and archival rivets.
Tina Lutz Morris knows a thing or two about fashion, having worked in the industry for more than 20 years, including as cofounder of the Lutz & Patmos New York-based brand. In 2018 she turned her eyes on accessories becoming an advocate for local manufacturing and slow fashion, pledging to source leather from Spoor-approved German tanneries and manufacture entirely in the country (save for a few Made in Italy styles) capitalizing on its artisans’ expertise in metal-framed leather goods. For fall, she had pouches with a said frames at the top, camera and boom bags than opened like treasure chests and minimalist crossbodies featuring applied, metal-framed cardholders. Lutz Morris also introduced two collaborations with Eames on playing card holders, and with Carl Auböck on key rings.
The charming mix of pearls, crystals and tassels that defines the dazzling aesthetic of Milanese accessories brand Rosantica was enhanced by the designs creative director Michela Panero conjured for fall. These included the Vela bag marked by a triangular-shaped sparkling mesh and a hand-woven shoulder strap, and the lovely Gaia style covered in floral decorations, which also appeared on the structural cage of the brand’s signature Holli bucket bag.
Count on Paciotti to deliver sexy and hard-edged footwear. The creative team didn’t spare on the house’s dagger-shaped logo adding it as an anklet to plateaued pumps or more subtly decorating the side of high-heeled booties. On the glam rock front, knee-high boots were cut out at the instep and replaced by thick buckled straps.