Yet they all benefited from the same early support system: Vogue Talents, Vogue Italia’s fashion scouting project created by the late Franca Sozzani, which celebrated its 10th anniversary during Milan fashion week with an exhibition of its greatest hits.
“It wasn’t easy to chose these 70 silhouettes, because in our 10 years of existence we spotlighted over a thousand designers,” said Sara Sozzani Maino, head of Vogue Talents and Vogue Italia deputy editor for special fashion projects, at the opening of the Vogue Talents exhibition at the Palazzo Cusani on Thursday.
Danish designer Cecilie Bahnsen, London-based duo Chopova Lowena, New York fashion week darling Tomo Koizumi and this year’s LVMH Prize winner Thebe Magugu all had silhouettes exhibited in a large, packed ballroom.
“I never say that I discovered them: Vogue Talents is about spotlighting them at the right moment,” explained Sozzani Maino. “If you put them on the scene and they are not ready, you can predict a burnout. It’s our responsibility to give them a chance at the right moment.”
Some of those moments can come pretty fast. Magugu, the South African designer, was part of the 2018 selection of Vogue Talents.
“Vogue Talents has never had boundaries,” said Sozzani Maino. “We go looking for designers all around the world. Thebe hadn’t ever presented his work to the public before being scouted last year, and now he is an LVMH Prize winner. That’s what we are here for: To spotlight them and bring them bigger opportunities.”
Magugu had fond memories of the Vogue Talents program. “It represented so many firsts for me,” said the 25-year-old designer. “The first time I showed my work, the first time I visited Milan, the first time I flew to Europe. It was a really special moment and introduced me to so many people.”
Arthur Arbesser was spotted chatting next to his exhibited silhouette, a look from his spring 2019 collection.
“Vogue Talents is like a family,” said the Austrian designer, whose brand is based in Milan. “It was lovely to have someone you can talk to and ask for advice. I remember the first time I came in to see Sara: She touched the materials and gave me a few tips. It was always an easy and relaxed relationship, never something to be scared of. We all know we can always call Sara: She is literally friends with all of us.”
Guests, including Vogue Italia editor in chief Emanuele Farneti, designers Giuseppe Zanotti, Delfina Delettrez and Brunello Cucinelli milled through the rooms to discover this years’s Who’s On Next finalists, Altaroma’s scouting competition in collaboration with Vogue Italia.
Linda Calugi was one of the nine designers to make the cut. “My brand is three years old, before that I spent 10 years working as a stylist in Milan,” said the founder of Twins Florence, a fashion label specializing in timeless leather silhouettes made in her family’s factory in Florence.
A standout piece was a simple white worker’s shirt – it looked like a slightly beaten-up vintage garment from afar, but after closer inspection it turned out to be made out of soft white leather. “It’s mechanically cut, so the material is not burned,” explained Calugi. “I want to create pieces that you feel you can wear forever.”