Milan Fashion Week autumn/winter 2023 began on Wednesday and, as expected of the Italian city, things were both stylish and provocative.
At Fendi, creative director Kim Jones continued with the clothes-as-armour theme, as well as the underwear-as-outerwear idea he set in motion at his recent haute couture show. For this autumn/winter ready-to-wear collection, Jones offered contrasting options for the modern woman. There was sharp suiting with complex, layered looks that were strong and powerful, while other designs were soft, almost flimsy, in lace and silk.
Antonio Marras wove a wintry gothic tale, with knitted cable jumpers featuring lace and dense flowers creeping across the garments. There was even a tailored tartan suit, a nod to Vivienne Westwood, who died last year.
At Weekend Max Mara, British stylist Kate Phelan brought some androgynous London cool to Milan, via her capsule collection for the brand, which was simply called 24. Inspired by a December 1982 Vogue fashion shoot by Bruce Weber and Grace Coddington that Phelan saw as a teenager, she explains that as soon as she was invited to collaborate on a collection, she knew this shoot would be the foundation of it. “I have been obsessed with these images ever since and, in a way, they made me fall in love with fashion,” she explained.
Translated into high-waisted, pleat-fronted trousers, oversized Harris Tweed blazers and herringbone coats that all leaned into Max Mara know-how, the collection also included pleated black denim skirts and Dr Martens for a dash of early 1980s street style.
Over at Marina Rinaldi, Mary Katrantzou presented a collaboration collection centred on a swirled psychedelic pattern akin to the marbled paper found in old books. Offered in teal and pink, the swirly shapes arrived across dresses, split-front trousers, sock boots and even capes. Displayed in a mirrored hall, with the fabric glued on the floor and pillars, it was a hypnotic show.
Elsewhere, Vogue fashion director Anna Dello Russo staged a pop-up in Max & Co to show her capsule collection of bright pastel suits and miniskirts.
Rounding off day one was Etro, which put on a show that featured models wrapped in colourful checked and striped blankets in lieu of coats. Worn with knitted, shredded hem dresses and overflowing paisley-patterned maxi dresses, the blankets added a carefree, bohemian spirit. There were also pieces made in unexpected materials — such as boxy jackets in bonded patent leather and long boots in matte rubber — the collection was imbued with a sense of travelling like a free soul.