Fashion lovers take “small steps” towards normality as luxury brands return to the ramp in Milan

MILAN: Lights, camera, real audience live – Milan fashion is once again welcoming real people to its catwalks on Friday, a sign that the industry is ready to start turning the page on virtual formats adopted during the pandemic.

The figures are still modest, only Armani, Dolce & Gabbana and Etro inviting an audience to their spring / summer 2022 men’s collections. “It’s the dress rehearsal of the return to normal,” Federica Trotta Mureau told AFP, editor-in-chief of Italian fashion magazine Mia Le Journal.

The broadcasts represent small steps, but the effect of live events, instead of the video presentations or short films relied on since early last year when the coronavirus cut short biannual broadcasts in Italy’s business capital, would be always appreciated, said Mureau.

“The lights that go out and come on again, the music that rings when the first models come out … it’s an emotion that digital cannot give us,” she said.

Armani was the first at the end of May to announce the return to the public, after being the first to exclude them in February 2020.

“I’m scared, like everyone else,” said Giorgio Armani, 86, as the pandemic swept through Italy last year.

AFP

File photo from June 15, 2019: Italian fashion designers Stefano Gabbana (left) and Domenico Dolce wave to the applause after the presentation of the Dolce & Gabbana spring / summer 2020 men’s fashion collection in Milan.

Goodbye dull shades

Most of the 47 parades taking place over five days will remain digital.

This is the case of Ermenegildo Zegna, who kicked off the parades on Friday with a virtual showcase featuring models strolling through mazes of greenery before returning to a concrete cityscape.

“This marks a renaissance of luxury craftsmanship, a movement that liberates man while preserving his uniqueness,” said the brand’s artistic director, Alessandro Sartori.

Fendi comes next, Saturday; Prada’s virtual show is due on Sunday.

Although still a small minority, the return of even a few in-person shows has been “an important signal of recovery”, according to Carlo Capasa, president of the National Chamber of Italian Fashion.

After months of stop-start measures, restrictions on coronaviruses in most of Italy have been lifted thanks to falling infection rates, although masks are still mandatory in public and social distancing must be respected.

Capasa has estimated that sales of the Italian fashion market will increase by 17% this year to reach 80 billion euros ($ 95 billion), mainly thanks to growth in China. “Made in Italy” fashion exports are expected to increase by 13%.

But it won’t be until 2022 that the country’s fashion industry will return to pre-pandemic levels, especially as orders in the first months of 2021 fell below expectations.

Italian industry revenues fell 26% last year as shops closed and well-heeled tourists stayed at home.

So what will the Milan men be wearing next year?

After the gray winter and the gloom of the pandemic, colors present in nature such as light green, ocean blue, terracotta, sunny yellow or fiery red should prevail, according to Mureau.

“Goodbye sober colors and overly punitive looks, summer 2022 in men’s fashion will be marked by color and exaggeration,” she said.

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