White Milano

MILAN — The four-day White Milano trade fair just keeps getting bigger. The latest edition of the contemporary fashion clothing, accessories and beauty show here grew in space, exhibitors, visitors and international relevance, clocking double-digit gains in visits from both Italian and international buyers. Visitors of the edition that closed here on Feb. 26 grew to 25,905, up 12 percent compared with a year ago.

“We are harvesting the fruits of a strategy, especially toward foreign countries, to promote the fair and [the city of] Milan that the data shows us is a winner,” said Massimiliano Bizzi, the founder and head of White.

Models with eccentric, heavy makeup swayed in loose-fitting fancy coats with sleeves draping down to the thighs in a performance staged by the fair’s special guest, the Paris-based label Rouge Margaux. Striped cloth cascaded from sleeves on creative director Cem Cinar’s red trench with metal grommets instead of buttons. On another model, a gold and black jacquard cape-like coat hung over an all-black, loose pantsuit punctuated by a striking gold chain draped over the chest in a loose X.

Upstairs, five start-ups displayed accessories collections under the umbrella of Mastered.com, a selective fashion talent development accelerator launched in 2015. The company says 50,000 applicants competed for 3,500 spots in two years. Samantha Southern, a consultant producer, said members pay a one-time fee of 5,000 to 6,000 British pounds for a year’s worth of courses in brand development and bimonthly mentoring by established industry professionals. The applicant can also access live meet-ups, workshops, promotional opportunities and resource networks on an ongoing basis.

“We have different programs, like women’s wear, men’s wear, makeup, photography, art direction,” said Southern. “We had 8,000 applicants for 200 slots in our fashion styling program.”

The label W.J.Y., made by jewelry designer Jiaying Wang, was one of the five brands Mastered brought to White. Astrological constellations inspired Wang’s new “Universe” collection of minimalist jewelry. She held up a single earring dangled in a golden spiral suspending a single white sphere. It was meant to be worn alone. “With this earring, I imagine I am doing a yoga pose,” said Wang, as she tilted her body over to one side. Other pieces — chokers and pendants among them — were spare, clean, curved or circular gold wire and spheres. Stones changed according to zodiac themes, like tiger’s eye for Leo.

Another Mastered mentee, the Los Angeles-based Thread Em, displayed cheerful suede bags in purple, pink and teal with festive, geometric suede inserts sewn on the front. “It is a meeting between fashion and art,” said Thread Em’s designer Emma Frattolillo. “We are very influenced by the Memphis movement.” Frattolillo referred to the Milanese design group founded in the 1980s by Ettore Sottsass, which fused geometric forms and patterns inspired by Pop Art and Art Deco.

Across the room, the fledgling women’s wear brand Synesthesiac displayed candy-colored rain slickers. Big pleated cuffs accented a long pink raincoat cinched with an O-ring belt, and biker jackets came in shiny yellow and powder blue.

“This is our first collection,” said Nino Kinkladze, the business half of a duo from Tbilisi, Georgia, who received their fashion educations in Italy. Kinkladze said the pieces were developed in school, but have already received significant attention from influencers and fashion press on Instagram. A fashion editor from Kazakhstan offered to buy a prototype at White. “She was ready to take it immediately. I told her she needed to wait until the end of the fair so people can see it,” said Kinkladze.

In the Red Area, White’s special zone dedicated to debut brands, Feel Me Fab’s printed synthetic stretch velvets formed the basis of a collection of swimwear, leisurewear and pajamas. Partners Sofia Turconi and Veronica Vangelisti founded their fledgling brand on the concept of “dressing up dressing down” for women to “feel good in their most vulnerable moments.”

“I am a mom, and I understood that I wanted a bathing suit that would cover my breasts and my bottom while I am playing in the sand with my son at the seaside,” said Vangelisti. Turconi designs the line’s signature prints. So far they have 18 points of sale in Italy and a showroom in Milan.

Also in the Red Area, Beijing-based brand Zai Mu showed leather bags with intricate geometries based on traditional Chinese paper cutting patterns and twisted window blinds. Designer Haofang Zheng’s year-old, niche luxury label is 100 percent made in China.

On the floor below, Aris Rakas, owner of Oneonone, showed colorful sweaters in up to 15 yarns, hand-knitted by women in Greece. “We do crazy things. Things that machines can’t do,” said Rakas. “The ladies who knit do the designing. We let them fool around. They come up with the needlepoints.” Rakas said his knitting business grew from embers of his old retail clothing business, which was scorched by the economic crisis in Greece. His company cultivates women, typically 35 to 70 years old, to deploy traditional village techniques to newly sophisticated styles with fine Italian yarns. “Each sweater takes 20 to 50 hours to make,” said Rakas.

At Balossa, creative director Indra Kaffemanaite added a deconstructed gilet and a men’s jacket to her collection of deconstructed button-down shirts and shirt dresses, like her gray pinstriped cape with inverted lapels and slit pockets.

Italian label Archivio showed edgy tailored looks influenced by classic men’s wear, like a series of full-length, square-shouldered, double-breasted coats in coral, chocolate and a delicate plaid.

Meanwhile, in the beauty exhibition area, the family-run company Abaton showed boutique perfumes, colognes and eau de toilette based on chinotto, the bitter-caramel citrus flavor that is the basis of a popular Italian soft drink and comes from the myrtle-leaved orange tree. The company helped revive the fortunes of the tree with a storied history in the family’s coastal hometown of Savona, where they grow 3,000 of them. The flower and fruit at different stages of maturation scent perfumes selling from 85 to 185 euros per 100 ml. 

Here a few trends seen at White: 

Super Prints — Lush floral, geometric and other rich prints on silks and silky textiles, like the pink peonies and peacocks from 5MIN, the sophisticated florals of Carlotta Canepa’s blouses to go with lively jacquards, geometric madness from Happy Socks, calculated combo prints for a total look from 1-ONE, and Pierre-Louis Mascia’s colorful remix of classic patterns. 

Sporty — Oversized jackets, down coat quilting, hoodie and sweatshirt hybrids, sneakers played out in a fire engine red sweatshirt from Essentiel, an oversized canary yellow slicker from OOF, a zip-up sweatshirt with pink pleated troubadour sleeves from Luis Buchinho, a quilted full skirt from Zibroo Design, and all white Velcro sneakers with crenulated soles from Rombaut.

 Poudre — Powder pink, blue, and lilac bloomed across embossed cross-body bags from Aurora Prestige Venezia, a tube dress from Semicouture, retro-Eighties geometric dangling earrings from Sylvio Giardina, and feminine flounces from Sia and TaMo.

 Knitwear — Big, the long, and the bulky have arrived in Cettina Bucca’s multicolored wrap, Lovat & Green’s oversized sweaters and scarves, OneOnOne’s eclectic hand-knitted sweaters from Greece, and Pe De Chumbo’s coat-length sweater over a knitwear top and bottom.

Everyday Elegance — Formal styles are deconstructed and toned down in Dorateymur’s white loafers with silver oval buckles, Sartorial Monk’s romantic red velvet hourglass dress, and spirited feminine remixes of men’s tailored jackets and shirts from Balossa, Rouge Margaux, Almaz, Federica Tosi, and Mr. Mrs. Shirt.

Bling — Sparkle, glitter and metallics shined on silver Moon Boots, silver sheepskin coats by Yoj, silver ankle boots with red baubled stiletto heels from Minna Parikka, and a paillette-covered loose cardigan from L’Etre Different.

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