Ingo Wilts, Boss chief brand officer; Aerin Lauder; Damir Doma.

BOSS

It’s a much younger customer the Boss brand has been targeting as of late. As part of this strategy, the Metzingen, Germany-based brand is among a roster of labels decamping to Milan this season after it experimented with different formats and locations.

In addition to bringing in a breath of fresh air, there were other reasons behind the choice, including the brand’s connection with Italy, where it sources its fabrics, as well as the country representing one of its biggest markets. Most importantly, “we really have trust in the collection and in what we’re doing, so that’s why we decided to move one level up and come to Milan,” said Ingo Wilts, chief brand officer responsible for brand and creative management.

The seasoned Boss executive said he has been looking to the brand’s heritage rooted in tailoring with a more modern approach, adding utilitarian details and injecting sporty touches, as well as more feminine pieces in women’s wear.

The spring 2020 coed collection that bows this week will continue in that direction. “For sure we don’t want to show the serious woman or the serious guy. We always want to offer tailoring in new, modern ways so we play — and we maybe came late to this — but we play a lot with proportions,” Wilts offered, adding tailoring is increasingly appealing to Gen Z.

“They style it much looser with T-shirts and sneakers, so for them it’s no longer the stiff suit like their parents were wearing it. It is more like something to play with,” he said. To wit: suits come with short fitted blazers paired with wide-leg pants or vice versa; lightweight nylon and crinkled fabrics add airiness to overcoats, while midi frocks in drape-y silks and twills elevate the women’s offer.

Sketches of a men's and women's look from Boss spring 2020 collection.

Sketches of a men’s look and a women’s look from Boss’ spring 2020 collection.  Courtesy Photo.

While the brand plans to keep showing in Milan, moving away from the New York runway, Manhattan served as a big source of inspiration, as Wilts — who’s been living there for a year — took cues from his morning walks around the Hudson Yards shopping complex facing the river. “I saw the reflection of the buildings against it and a lot of light, the clouds, the [sky’s] blue and this was really inspiring to make a collection which is based on blue and injected also with pastels,” he noted.

There will be a stronger emphasis on accessories, as in a hybrid dress shoe/sneaker style with colored rubber soles for men and strappy feminine sandals for women. “Our rule is that the man has to be masculine and the woman has to be very feminine,” Wilts said, nodding to the label’s DNA. Bags also will come in new styles, including a boxy saddle bag in colors that are tonal.

With its audience getting younger, especially in Asia and Europe, Wilts noted he wants “people to enjoy what we are doing, I want them to play with it and I wish that they didn’t see us as just a serious suiting brand.” — Martino Carrera

PETER PILOTTO 

Spicing up the Milan calendar this season, Peter Pilotto is decamping from London after 12 years of showing in the English capital to make its Italian debut on Wednesday.

Designers Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos sounded upbeat about the decision for many reasons. “First of all, we have been going a lot to Italy since we started the brand as we develop all our fabrics in the Como region. We also love to travel a lot to Italy for fun and for inspiration, so it’s a place close to our heart,” said Pilotto, who boasts Italian origins. The designer defined the shift of show location as an ”exciting next step for the brand to have a different audience seeing the collection and to show it in a different context.”

De Vos mirrored Pilotto’s enthusiasm, praising the upbeat energy of the city, which he witnessed attending various editions of Milan Design Week.

In sync with the creative duo’s mood, the spring collection is set to offer a fun and fresh take on the brand’s codes, which include colorful combinations of prints and patterns and inspirations from around the world. “It’s a real continuation to what we do and really our signature but yet it’s quite a different approach, as we wanted to make the silhouettes more playful and inclusive in the sense that there’s a good mix of elegance and casual and the play of all of that,” said Pilotto, without giving too much away.

Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos.

Peter Pilotto and Christopher de Vos  Mark Cocksedge/Courtesy Photo

The show will mark the debut of the brand’s bag and accessories line, which is being manufactured in Italy. The project, which has been on the duo’s agenda for some time, represents another category expansion for the label after the launch of a homeware collection in May. It also telegraphs a further buildup of the company, which recently appointed Italian executive Maia Guarnaccia as chief executive officer to broaden its reach and grow the business.

But while the show will mark many firsts for the designers, this might not be the last time the brand will appear on the Milan schedule.

“We are definitely thinking of staying a little bit,” said Pilotto. “The venue search was so exciting and we saw so many beautiful spaces, we are all inspired.…So this is definitely not a one-off.”

For this season, the duo opted for the central Teatro Manzoni location to stage the show for its “juxtaposition of different elements, more classic, more modern, more painterly and with different marbles” and the overall “nice atmosphere” that “complements the collection in a contrasting way,” concluded De Vos. — Sandra Salibian

FRANKIE MORELLO

“A new page” is how Damir Doma defined the course of the Frankie Morello brand under his stewardship. The designer, who also operates his namesake fashion label, was appointed artistic director of the Italian fashion house this summer.

“Our goal is to make the brand relevant again,” he said a few days ahead of his first show for the label, which was founded in 1999 by Maurizio Modica and Pierfrancesco Gigliotti. “After questioning what is relevant today, the company understood the necessity of a change in style and they gave me carte blanche to set an aesthetic which is very different from the past while respecting the framework of the brand.”

With this in mind, Doma defined the pillars of his strategy. “Frankie Morello must be urban, bold, sensual and ironic,” said the designer, who was tapped by FMM Srl, the company controlled by Italian entrepreneur Angela Ammaturo that produces and distributes the brand’s women’s, men’s, children’s and accessories collections.

As a first step in the rebooting process, Doma redesigned the brand’s logo, where the label’s name is written in a clean, more modern style, and set the brand’s visual identity, revolving around gray, yellow and black, which will also characterize the flagship expected to open within a few months in Milan’s Golden Triangle luxury shopping district.

Focused on “cleaning up” the brand’s image, Doma said while his own fashion line is deeply rooted in minimalism, “I didn’t want this brand to be minimalist, but the design needs to be precise and never messy.”

A look from Frankie Morello spring 2020 collection designed by Damir Doma.

A look from Frankie Morello spring 2020 collection designed by Damir DomaCourtesy Photo.

For his first spring collection, which he called “Soul Searchers” — “I think this name also represents our own journey to the definition of the new Frankie Morello,” Doma said — the designer imagined the wardrobe of a woman on a wild, mysterious beach.

Blurred floral patterns printed on silk or plissé viscose stand out in the collection, which includes knit separates and skirts punctuated by different buttons, giving the impression of shells and pebbles collected on the beach, also seen on a terry-cloth off-the-shoulder frock.

“We really tried to inject new blood into the brand and push its image forward,” said Doma, who praised the support of the label’s general manager Stefano Di Neza, who joined the company in 2018. “I accepted to take on this challenge because of him and his vision. He is really giving me the freedom to express my own point of view and he enables me to be surrounded by a strong team looking in my own same direction.” — Alessandra Turra

AERIN X BLAZÉ MILANO

Blazé Milano strongly believes in girl power. After collaborating with Margherita Missoni, Arizona Muse and Georgina Brandolini d’Adda, the luxury brand — founded by Corrada Rodriguez D’Acri, Delfina Pinardi and Maria Sole Torlonia — has teamed with Aerin Lauder on an exclusive capsule collection to be presented during Milan Fashion Week.

“A blazer has always been a signature in my wardrobe. When I was in college, I used to wear one with blue jeans and cowboy boots,” said Lauder, the granddaughter of beauty legend Estée Lauder who has her own beauty and lifestyle brand called Aerin. “I’m excited to collaborate with Blazé Milano since I love their product and the brand’s attention to quality and detail. Aerin and Blazé Milano share the same love for effortless beauty and style so it felt natural for us to work together. We developed items that women can easily wear every day, either at work or layered with a dress for a night out.”

A blazer from the Aerin Lauder x Blazé Milano capsule collection.

A blazer from the Aerin Lauder x Blazé Milano capsule collection.  Courtesy Photo.

Reflecting Lauder’s style, the capsule combines mannish and delicate, feminine details for a versatile lineup. This includes a blue and white pinstriped Everyday Blazer, the brand’s signature design, crafted from a cotton, silk and linen blend with a tactile feel; a relaxed camel viscose and linen Weekend Blaze; a Blazer Robe worked in a micro floral pattern, which is also splashed on the newly introduced separates, such as silk shorts and a V-neck blouse embellished with the label’s signature half-moon Smiley pockets.

Pinardi described Lauder as “a role model for us. She is a successful manager, an intuitive creative mind, a super chic woman and a caring mother, who balances her professional and personal life with grace and a refined sense of style. She perfectly embodies the quintessential Blazé Milano aesthetic.”

The capsule will be available from the spring 2020 season at the Blazé Milano online store, as well as at select international retailers. — A.T.

DROME

Marking the brand’s 10th anniversary, Drome is coming back home to Italy.

After several seasons showing in Paris, the Italian label, founded by Marianna Rosati in 2009, will present its spring 2020 collection in Milan with a runway show on Sunday.

Striking a balance between the creative and the commercial has always been the approach Drome’s creative director has taken for the label, which initially focused on leather pieces and over the years has expanded to become a full fashion brand.

“Paris is the city where everything started and it had become our second home, but at one point we wanted to step up the game and find a new balance,” said Rosati, adding that being part of the official Milan calendar as opposed to the off-calendar round of events in Paris will enhance the brand’s standing. The designer noted that the past 10 years have allowed her to “strengthen the identity of Drome, a directional one yet close to our customers and accessible.”

Drome’s detour to Milan will mark a new focus on expanding the label’s distribution to reach new doors globally, which amount to 300, including Milan’s Rinascente, LuisaViaRoma and Tsum in Moscow, among others. After adding pre-collections, the next steps include considering capsule collections to “keep up with a dramatically different fashion system and a more fluid one,” said Rosati.

Rosati’s hodgepodge of clashing inspirations often become delicate undertones in her collections. For spring the designer said it all started from a home decor book from the late Seventies, which suggested the color palette of alabaster white, sand beige, terra-cotta brown, amber, sage green and grayish blue. From there she imagined a clash between Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino in the 1983 movie “Scarface,” as well as David Bowie’s style from the “Berlin Trilogy” period, hence the combination of masculine and feminine touches “to convey an eclectic vibe,” Rosati said.

A sketch from Drome's spring 2020 collection.

A sketch from Drome’s spring 2020 collection.  Courtesy Photo.

For example, mannish roomy suits crafted from leather or jacquard silk have structured shoulders without giving up their fluidity; tiny zebra prints punctuate oversize jackets, while frocks with plunging V-necks are layered over innerwear-inspired tees. Leather is often treated to obtain a worn-out effect, but never vintage-y. “The collection is quite sexy. There are plenty of feminine details allowing women to unveil their feline sensuality,” explained the designer.

Although there’s still room for the brand to grow and expand its reach, Rosati is proud of her achievements, as is she aware that growth should be sustainable, especially when it comes to expanding beyond ready-to-wear (shoes and bags are currently produced in support of the apparel collection, Rosati noted). “We are growing but our structure is still small. I always think that we should do things well, or not at all,” Rosati said. — M.C.

ACT N.1

The winners of Vogue Italia and Alta Roma’s talent contest “Who Is on Next” in 2017, Luca Lin and Galib Gassanoff, founders and creative directors of Act N.1, are gearing up to hold their third show during Milan Fashion Week.

Taking inspiration from their personal backgrounds — Chinese and Azerbaijani, respectively — Lin and Gassanoff have revealed an emotional and distinctive approach to fashion.

“We always start from elements rooted in the identity of the brand, which means our multicultural background and memories. For us, the most important thing is always the research and development of original materials and prints,” said Lin, explaining their creative process. “Then we work on a model or on a mannequin also using pieces from our archive or basic designs, which we deconstruct.”

They continued this approach for their spring collection, which will be unveiled with a show on Sept. 19.

“The collection revolves around hybrid pieces, which are crafted by combining two or more designs to create a new item,” said Gassanoff, revealing that they employed mainly rich fabrics, such as silk satin, printed viscose jacquard, fil coupe silk with fringes, silk georgette and pleated tulle, which they juxtaposed against more everyday textiles, including lightweight wool and denim. “We also put a focus on wrap dresses inspired by Chinese styles, which we printed with digital patterns or motifs we sourced from traditional China’s watercolors.”

A look Act. N.1 spring 2020 collection.

A look from Act. N.1’s spring 2020 collection.  Courtesy Photo.

For example, the sleeves of Chinese silk robe coats were used for trenches, shirts and jackets, while evening dresses were cut into parts, which were stitched to blouses and sweatshirts. Playing with volumes, crinoline was added to skirts.

Prints included Far Eastern landscapes, peonies and tigers, sometimes mixed with ostrich feathers, fringes and embroideries of chains and crystals.

The upcoming runway show will mark the launch of the brand’s first accessories collection, which will feature evening bags that combine metal wire and vintage glass beads.

“We wanted to create a sort of water mirror, which has a very precise meaning in different cultures, referring to vitality, release, purity and good luck,” said Lin, revealing some details about the show set. “With Act N.1 we tell a story, a reflection of the past, so we picked the mirror as the symbol of the show, a mirror in motion with flowing water.”

Act N.1 collections are sold in more than 60 stores worldwide, including Selfridges, Tsum, H Lorenzo, IT Hong Kong, Concento in Tokyo and LuisaViaRoma. — A.T.

SIMONA MARZIALI — MRZ

Simona Marziali is not the fresh-out-of-college young designer type. On the contrary, she boasts extensive experience, having worked in the design studios of several fashion companies, including Diesel, Max Mara and Gilmar. In 2012 her decision to launch her namesake label, Simona Marziali — MRZ, was triggered by her family’s company, a knitwear specialist established by her mother 40 years ago in the Marche region.

In 2018 the designer was rewarded with the Franca Sozzani Award for the best new talent as part of the Vogue Italia-backed “Who’s on Next?” prize, allowing her to gain international visibility.

“The contest acted as a springboard for me, it was such an emotional moment in my life, having the chance to present my creations to an international jury of people I trusted,” the designer said, adding further recognition came after she teamed with international showroom Tomorrow London in 2016 for distribution. The label is available in around 180 stores globally.

First rooted in her knitwear expertise, the brand has grown over the seasons to encompass a full look. After she got in touch with the Italian Fashion Chamber, it offered her the opportunity to present the brand’s spring 2020 lineup as part of Milan Fashion Week’s official calendar. This marks the first runway show at a major fashion week for Marziali.

“My style is quite contemporary. It plays with contrasts, mixing elegance with a sporty attitude, mannish and feminine silhouettes. It’s quite my vision of what contemporary fashion is about,” explained the designer.

For her spring lineup, the designer took cues from the colors and craftsmanship of the rugs and carpets handwoven by the Berber women in Northern Africa. Geometric patterns, including rhomboid designs, as well as unfinished knitwear pieces enhance the collection’s arts and crafts vibe, counterbalanced by utilitarian details, such as buttons, laces and zippers aimed at “allowing layering and a personalization of the outfits,” Marziali explained. “I wanted to telegraph that kind of freedom and the free-spirited attitude of the Berber populations.”

A look from the Simona Marziali - MRZ spring 2020 collection.

A look from the Simona Marziali — MRZ spring 2020 collection.  Courtesy Photo.

Color, which plays a central role in the designer’s collections, punctuates a mostly black-and-white collection in which plant fibers, such as hemp, linen and blends of the two, are crafted for loose double-breasted blazers, matched with knitted lingerie-inspired pieces made of cashmere.

“The brand was born from a desire to create something for myself, banking on high-quality fabrics as I believe customers are increasingly looking for styles that are appealing not only design-wise, but also comfortable to wear,” Marziali said. — M.C.

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