MILAN — A handful of now iconic names, from Giorgio Armani to Valentino and Versace, have helped build Italy’s fashion reputation, but the country has long leveraged the manufacturing prowess of a slew of small and medium-sized companies, as well as a web of storied brands that have stood the test of time despite changes in control and creative direction over the years.
Here, a selection of those brands, which presented their fall collections during Milan Fashion Week.
Designer Antonio D’Anna paid tribute to Krizia founder Mariuccia Mandelli’s men’s wear-inspired pantsuits and blouses, revisiting traditional men’s fabrics and patterns, from Prince-of-Wales to pied-de-poule. He played with oversized proportions on a white pin-striped blouse that doubled as a shirtdress for example, or a blue pin-striped sleeveless maxidress worn over loose pants.
Another Mandelli reminders were cozy, oversized intarsia knits — long a specialty of the late designer. “The Krizia brand has always been distinctive in its aim for a style in perennial transformation, but always recognizable,” said D’Anna. “The intention is to maintain this goal trying to render the codes that have always distinguished the brand more relaxed.”
The tie, a recurring element in the brand’s history, was offered in a maxi version placed on an intarsia knit with a playful and ironic touch. Men’s shirts were enriched with velvet yarns. D’Anna also presented a series of macro lacquered earrings in a tribute to Mandelli’s passion for oversize jewelry.
Leading Chinese fashion retailer Shenzhen Marisfrolg Fashion Co. Ltd. took control of the Krizia in 2014, a year before the death of the founding designer.
Romeo Gigli launched his brand in 1983 and became influential over the next decade and more with his architectural shapes combined with romantic, Renaissance touches, dashes of punk and ethnic inspirations. The label has suffered through several changes of ownership, and Gigli is no longer associated with the brand, now designed by creative director Alessandro De Benedetti. He succeeded in infusing the collection with his personal touch, while looking back at the founding designer.
De Benedetti’s collection for fall hinged on a romantic tale, the idea of woman in love with a sailor, imagining her waiting for him, staring out into the sea, which is key in the moody video conceived to present the collection. There’s an echo of Scotland, as in the beautiful green cape lined with a contrasting tartan in a blue palette and a ‘30s-style tartan blazer reminiscent of an officer’s uniform. Also impressive was a sculptured green dress with balloon sleeves. The micro gilet, “Hugo,” comes from Gigli’s archives, worn over a chic white blouse — also with balloon sleeves. A triple-washed georgette dress, trimmed with small chiffon hydrangeas, was as feminine as can be. Back-details, drawstrings, ruching and grosgrain ribbons all wink back to Gigli.
Elena Mirò was launched in 1985 by Italy’s Miroglio Fashion umbrella, which continues to control it, but the owner has been revitalizing its image and for fall tapped Alessandro Dell’Acqua to create a capsule. “Designing a fashion collection that offers a size extension may become a mannerism that has nothing to do with inclusivity, but has only to do with the commercial purpose of using what is considered politically correct,” said Dell’Acqua. “Instead, I wanted to go above and beyond, and create desirable clothes without considering the constraints and rules of sizes.”
Dell’Acqua tapped Dutch actress and model Lara Stone in a campaign photographed by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott. Stone is seen wearing dresses and skirts made with the “boiserie” technique of alternating black and beige organza lace panels. The designer revisited herringbone tweeds for jackets, skirts, and coats. Pink outfits in different tones were made up of double coats matched with pencil skirts and small cardigans. Clean-cut black guipure dresses were overlaid on nude-colored stealth dresses.
Les Copains is now controlled by new owner, Super Srl, owned by the Bologna-based Zambelli family, which acquired the brand’s parent BVM SpA in 2019 after the death of its founder Mario Bandiera a year earlier.
Yossi Cohen designed the fall collection, which paid tribute to Les Copains’ storied knitwear expertise, seen in the sailor striped sweater. Cohen revisited vintage jacquard coats introduced in 1982 on modern sweatshirt fabrics. He also brought back a small anchor symbol made with a perforating technique. A ‘70s inspiration, mixed with ethnic folk, ran through the two-tone denim tie-dye printed dresses with ruches and the hand embroidered and crochet jerseys. The color palette veered from Campari red and bougainvillea pink to turmeric yellow and emerald green — adding a joyful touch to the lineup.
The Mila Schön brand is now designed by a team, after the exit of Swedish designer Gunn Johansson. The team has been working on Schön archival designs and the fall collection was displayed on colorful structures inspired by the work of American artist Alexander Calder, mobile metal elements that emphasized lightness of the clothes. A Mod theme remained from Johansson’s tenure, running through A-line dresses with curved embroideries made with ribbons, jets and crystals in contrasting colors and geometries. The same geometries turned into brushstrokes on coats.
“Any Italian woman, her mother, aunt or grandmother has a Borbonese bag somewhere at home,” claimed Dorian Tarantini, who, together with Matteo Mena, was tapped in 2019 to revisit the storied Italian brand, founded in 1910 and a favorite of the Italian bourgeoisie for decades.
Mena and Tarantini, who launched the M1992 brand together, have been respectful of the brand’s heritage, and for fall revisited its signature OP motif. The collection was marked by a ‘50s aesthetic, emphasized by the designers’ choice to stage the presentation at Milan’s Torre Breda, a 30-story building from that decade. It also featured what is known as cottage core, which celebrates and idealizes rural life. Silk aprons reminiscent of those worn to garden, gloves similar to those used for tending flowers, quilted jackets and Wellington boots all showed OP details. A blouse with front panels stretched all the way to the floor, like a tunic. The beautiful pastel colored coats were accented by the bags, which remain core to the brand. A bucket bag was made of 100 percent recycled nylon. The Mustang bag in leather and OP suede was embellished with a stirrup and a textured inlay.
The beautiful hills and valley of the Umbria region, home to Luisa Spagnoli’s headquarters, an infinity pool and the area’s typical home with its rough stones served as the backdrop for the Italian brand’s video. The collection is “a celebration of the return to life, with an urban tone, with feminine and sexy touches,” said Nicoletta Spagnoli, who helms the storied family company and designs the collection. With a history of more than nine decades, Luisa Spagnoli has a loyal customer base of working women, and Spagnoli delivered tartan suits, long military coats in wool and double face cashmere, boxy shearling cabans and vests.
Knitwear is a core product and the brand offered short ribbed dresses and V-necked, cropped polos, tunics with slits over palazzo pants, and cardigans worn like coats. There were also lingerie-inspired tops that added a touch of additional femininity.