I’m just back from a week in Greece, getting some rest before the men’s shows begin in six days time, and have been catching up on the news I’ve missed.
One bit has made me excited indeed.
On January 15th, I finished my review of the AW13 Giorgio Armani menswear show in the Financial Times with the following words.
“The day dawned with the news that luxury conglomerate PPR had bought a 51% stake in Christopher Kane. That marriage of a French blue-chip buying into a small British label brings into focus the isolated state that Milan finds itself: no new designers, no sense of how it can make itself relevant in the 21st century.
I wonder if Mr Armani could provide the solution. His business is profoundly successful. Wouldn’t it be an interesting move if he were to ape Bernard Arnault and François Pinault, and used some of that money to set up new, separate fashion houses? It could happen in the same way that Comme des Garçons created a label for Junya Watanabe. It is something that could provide new impetus to his own work. Just a thought.”
Then, in my round-up of the Milan shows on January 18th, I wrote:
“Milan has an air of diminishment about it. It is clear that fashion houses all act independently of each other, without any unified attempt to preserve Milan’s status as a fashion capital. Italy needs to work out its own way of discovering and supporting fresh talent.”
So I was very pleased to see last week’s news that Giorgio Armani is to offer his showspace in Milan to young designers, including full technical support.
It means that young designers will be able to show on a schedule without having to subsidise their own venue, with the implicit support of Armani himself.
Mr Armani said of the decision: “We need concrete actions to support Italian fashion, initiatives that give more strength and a feeling of novelty to Milan’s Fashion Week. It is for this reason that I decided to make my theatre on Via Bergognone available for the fashion shows of some of the most promising designers, who can count on my building’s technical services.”
The first designer to benefit from this is Andrea Pompilio.
He’s new to me, but is already stocked in places like Jeffrey in NYC, 10 Corso Como in Milan and online at thecorner.com.
It seems apt that in a city built on commerciality, and without a tradition of radical design, that the definition of “young designer” is someone already with stockists.
I really mean it: each city has to find its own way of nurturing young designers. London has the counterculture and colleges that allows all our idiosyncratic new talents to flourish.
Milan is a city full of young designers from around the world who went straight from graduation to work behind the scenes at the big Italian brands. Many take that route to learn the ropes in the industry before launching on their own.
Milan could have its next generation of new name designers already working right under its nose. If the big brands are canny, they could launch these young designers themselves as protégés, just as with Com
Here’s Pompilio’s AW13 collection, which he showed at Pitti – a mix of women’s and men’s.
I look forward to seeing his Milan menswear debut at 11.30am on June 22, and hope all the editors and buyers in town will go out of their way to support the initiative.
They’ve been clever with the scheduling, so that the show is just round the corner from the one before – Stefano Pilati’s debut at Ermenegildo Zegna.
There’s no excuse not to go.
I think it’s super important that Armani is taking this action. He plans to do the same during the women’s schedule, which is similarly stuck in a rut of familiarity.
There’s other interesting stuff happening in Milan. During the men’s shows, the new board of the Camera Della Moda, their version of the BFC, will be introduced.
Previously Milan has felt like a city of brands working independently from one another. But suddenly the Camera Della Moda is about to become cross-party.
The new board includes Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of Prada and husband of Mrs Prada; Diego Della Valle, owner of Tod’s; Angela Missoni; Ermenegildo Zegna; Renzo Russo; Silvia Venturi Fendi, and Carla Sozzani, owner of 10 Corso Como.
During the last menswear shows in January, Milan was a depressing place to be.
Maybe soon it can become again a city of engagement and optimism.