MILAN — The Mila Schön brand is returning to Milan Fashion Week with a presentation on Feb. 23, backed by new investors that have partnered with owner Itochu, and a new creative director, Marc Audibet.
The French designer will unveil his first collection for the label with the fall 2023 season, bringing his years of experience working with luxury brands ranging from Hermès and Salvatore Ferragamo to Prada, Vionnet and Trussardi, to Mila Schön.
The last Mila Schön presentation took place for spring 2022.
A group of Italian investors, through a company called Cofedo, have inked a global strategic partnership with Japanese general trading company Itochu to develop the storied brand around the world and expand its categories, potentially through the addition of furniture and home decor, fragrances, eyewear and menswear.
The operation is led by chief executive officer Guido Formilli Fendi, a member of the Fendi founding family. He worked until 2003 as general manager and commercial director at the Rome-based company.
Entrepreneur Barbara Gabarrini Confalonieri has taken on the role of president.
The goal is to double Mila Schön’s sales of about 200 million euros within three years through substantial investments in product, distribution and image, focusing on Europe, the U.S. and Asia.
Formilli Fendi said the partnership with Itochu “will start a new phase of growth and consolidation” of Mila Schön and “strategically position it among the top international fashion and lifestyle brands. We have invested in this project because it is an extraordinary opportunity for a brand that epitomizes the very best of Made in Italy to become a global leader in this space.”
Mila Schön was founded in Milan in 1958 by the namesake designer, and it will continue to be based in the Italian city.
Schön — whose clients included Jackie Kennedy, Farah Diba, Lee Radziwill and Ira von Furstenberg — died in 2008 and built her fashion reputation on restrained and timeless elegance that displayed a penchant for precision-cut tailoring and the extensive use of “double” fabrics, or two layers of the same material hand-stitched together. Color, chevron textures, intarsia and wave motifs are hallmarks of her work, which was always heavily influenced by contemporary art and artists like Gustav Klimt, Gio’ Fontana, Mondrian and Jackson Pollock. She was a recipient of the Neiman Marcus Award, among others.
“Mila Schön truly represents the best of the Made in Italy heritage and we are passionate about enhancing this,” said Gabarrini Confalonieri. “On a personal level, I have always been attracted to the image and the feeling of the brand and its inimitable style made of femininity, rigor and chromatic sensitivity.”
She praised Audibet’s experience, his tailoring skills and technical expertise, “his intuition and talent,” and his “understanding of fabrics and silhouettes,” touting his research on stretch materials.
Gabarrini Confalonieri said Audibet “will be an integral part of the effort to achieve our goals and position Mila Schön to become a leader in the affordable luxury segment. Marc will be able to best interpret the immense aesthetic heritage of Mila Schön with new variations and interpretations in the brand’s clothing collections, as well as provide strong direction in footwear and accessories.”
The brand will be mainly distributed through the wholesale channel.
The debut collection comprises more than 100 pieces, as well as accessories and footwear.
The brand was sold to Itochu in 1992 by the namesake designer.
Itochu has kept the atelier in Milan working over the years with a number of creative directors, including the latest, Bianca Gervasio.