On The Row AW24

Fashion Shows Reviews by Andrea Batilla

PARIS AW 24

VALENTINO

Pierpaolo Piccioli and his team design clothes. They don’t create endless mood boards to assemble Frankenstein collections made of various pieces; instead, clearly, they conduct a lot of research and then move on to drawing. Today, this approach is not the norm; it’s a rarity. This type of design method, typical of the pre-social media era, is evident in the brand’s consistently evolving results. Valentino looks like Valentino, and although some might think this indicates a lack of creative imagination, it actually signifies a powerful assertion of a unique identity with a style recognizable from miles away. For this collection—black in every detail—Piccioli has stripped down the language he has constructed, not to revert to a minimalism that has nothing to do with the brand, but to bring the essence of design to the forefront and to state that only through drawing can certain expressive levels be achieved.

In this presentation, bodies rather than garments stood out, tracing a journey from the monastic to the nearly nude, focusing—much like the previous collection—on exploring the meanings of eroticism, physicality, and nudity, and how these concepts interface with the world today. Unlike his colleague Vaccarello, for Piccioli, the nude female body represents a laborious point of arrival, not an effortless starting point. Its revelation is troubled, perhaps even painful, but the narrative that emerges is pure, glaring in its clarity. The body mirrors our essence and should be covered or unveiled without fear, shaping the perception others have of us without eliciting judgment or denial, but perhaps only admiration. The ease with which complexity is handled forms Valentino’s strength, a mature, adult concept that demands patience, bravery, and extensive experience.

BALENCIAGA

If you walk around a mall on Saturday, you’ll see groups of fifteen-year-olds in black tracksuits, caps, sneakers, and black glasses. That kind of aesthetic descends directly from the work of Demna, who is simply one of the most relevant designers of his generation, having captured and represented the sense of unease of all the Gen Zs in the world. The problem is that the dream is over, destroyed by a couple of teddy bears dressed in leather and a bunch of conspiracy theorist idiots that many have taken seriously. Balenciaga’s sharp blade of social criticism has lost its keen precision and now launches sword slashes towards the sky that no longer interests anyone. Even though this collection demonstrates how brilliant Demna is in confronting reality, re-reading it, and spitting it back out in new and sensible clothes, his magic touch is no longer there, even if it’s not his fault. The fundamental fact is that it should be understood that talent is an inconvenient and hardly manageable thing, difficult to categorize, and you cannot turn on and off the disturbance coefficient that fills it. This is the real problem with fashion today. Everyone knows that strong personalities lead to significant profits, but at the same time, the distress of dealing with them becomes more palpable and concrete. There’s no definitive answer to this Hamletian dilemma, but it’s essential to acknowledge that fashion mainly thrives on creativity and profound narrative depth. It feels like I’m echoing the same sentiments repeatedly, yet I worry that this notion remains elusive to many.

MCQUEEN

Seán McGirr, the new creative director of McQueen, comes from the school of J. W. Anderson, someone who builds collections piece by piece and is not really interested in thematic narratives. On the other hand, Lee McQueen thrived on theatre and dramatization; for him, storytelling was essential; every appearance was a character in his fantastic mental movie. This is the only big difference between the two, and if one thinks what the much-criticized McGirr did is not respectful of the brand’s founder, it simply sufficed not to choose him. In reality, the collection, cold, ungrammatical, and hyperrealist, does make sense because, in a still vague way, it speaks of peripheral subjects, of an unsettling aesthetic, and drastically moves away from Sarah Burton’s cocktail dresses for Long Island billionaires, which certainly were very far from McQueen’s thought. Kering should reflect on whether its habit of seeking new unknown designers should not be complemented with a deeper, perhaps more rational reflection. McGirr is talented but has nothing to do with McQueen. This could lead to two things: the failure of the project or the gradual distancing from the brand’s original identity. In both cases, at this moment, the risk seems very high, and I wonder if there’s a need for it or if, instead, the times are ripe to work on a type of continuity that traces the narrative threads of the past and ties them together, instead of cutting them.

RABANNE

After ten years at the helm of Rabanne with good commercial success, Julien Dossena has decided to explore the territory of his mentor, Nicolas Guesquière and take the liberty to leave behind the Maison’s heritage. With the help of super stylist Marie Amelie Sauvè—Nicolas’s right-hand woman at Vuitton for years—Dossena worked on an idea of aesthetic chaos with roots in the ’80s that is very close to how cool young people dress. Unlike designers such as Marine Serre, the experiment is nothing intellectual but refreshes the memory of everyone who has forgotten that pleasant clothes can be designed without monastic inspirations or overtly bourgeois influences. Some would say there’s a grunge in this collection. Not in the literal sense but in the way Dossena intelligently does not attempt to clean up, to make it sterile and domesticated, but represents something very close to reality. The path of realism is indeed challenging, and those who profess their interest lies not in narrative but in the product are not the ones genuinely pursuing it. Instead, it is pursued by those who recognize it as a path filled with the risk of falsifications and the need to circumvent obstacles. Now standing in stark contrast to its founder’s esthetic, Rabanne has chosen to reconnect with the streets, breathing new life into a practice that has nearly disappeared from modern fashion. This leap into the here and now appears very interesting precisely because most designers dwell in the ‘elsewhere’, a concept that, as appealing as it may seem, actually causes one to lose sight of sincerity. Or actually, the truth.

CHLOÉ

Chloé is one of the few brands with such a precise identity that it becomes problematic for those who take on its creative direction. Even Chemena Kamali, despite her experience in cultivating a sense of sexiness over the years at Saint Laurent, found herself embracing the boho chic look, a term invented by someone probably in an Upstate New York mansion to make sense of pairing jeans with a folk lace shirt. Her effort and craftsmanship were visible, but the result, aside from some bold transparencies that seemed to take on a vaguely feminist meaning in that context, was not a profound reinterpretation of the brand but rather a pleasant and safe reflection on its history. Gaby Aghion, the brand’s founder, is said to have invented the term prêt-à-porter, together with Lagerfeld in the 1970s, significantly contributing to the creation of a type of clothing that was less expensive but equally rich in content, erasing a couple of centuries of high fashion dominance in a stroke. Her idea of democratizing fashion—a particularly interesting topic today—could have led Kamali towards less common and more courageous territories, making the brand more flexible without denying its identity. However, today, when a designer sits down at the drawing table, especially burdened with reviving a brand’s relevance, I imagine they spend hours contemplating before making any decision, paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. Mistakes are not allowed today (I’ll discuss this with McQueen); everyone wants positive sales results and rising Lyst indices. In reality, fortunately, the creative index is not measurable, and even if it seems to become less comprehensible every day, it is the only real reason people buy clothes. And I think this will continue to be the case even if all the marketing departments worldwide would like the opposite.

MILAN AW 24

MARCO RAMBALDI

As emerging talents like Cormio, Andrea Adamo, and Act n.1 opt out of the runway this season, Marco Rambaldi not only persisted in his creative journey but also showcased a remarkable evolution. His sincere and disarming nature has fostered a level of maturity that’s first and foremost evident in the product itself. In an era fixated on digital existence, Rambaldi’s designs emerge as poetically tangible and real due to his attention to detail, technical skill, thorough research, and profound depth. Moving away from his collections’ colourful yet somewhat improvised beginnings, Marco, this time, has meticulously crafted each piece, honouring the Italian tradition of product construction and no longer resembling a child playing in the yard. It’s a huge step forward that only lacks a more attentive narrative capability and a more believable story, which, in this case, location and music did not help. If we have to think of a young designer with the ability to take the creative direction of a major brand into their hands, his name certainly comes to mind. I get the impression that the coming years for Marco will be as bright as his eyes were, teary right after the show.

ETRO

Marco de Vincenzo has internalized all the iconic elements of Etro and has begun to narrate how this prestigious yet monolithic brand can adopt a contemporary language without forgetting its past. In this case, being contemporary isn’t just about dressing the next star for the red carpet; instead, it’s about, in a much more complex way, becoming understandable to those who have distanced themselves from the brand due to its perceived outdatedness. The bridge that De Vincenzo built with contemporary Italian music is an extraordinary example of this effort, and this time, the soundtrack by the young artist Miglio narrated a poetic modernity that mirrors the very essence on which Etro now relies. De Vincenzo is a storyteller, almost in the literal sense of the term, and he insists on reiterating it every time because the strength of authors is also that of rewriting old parables and making them modern. Etro is now a project that speaks to everyone, is open and accessible, and has the potential, given the precise characteristics of the product, to grow infinitely. I advise delving deeper into the connection with Italian music, creating a community, and perhaps organizing a festival. Let De Vincenzo’s vision be more than a biannual event; let it be a platform for exchange. This brand, after all, was born from the fusion of distant textile traditions and collaborations with Italian fashion’s brightest minds, maintaining authenticity at its core.

DIESEL

The remarkable work done by Glenn Martens for Diesel demonstrates that brands can be reshaped, redefined, and revitalized by allowing time for authorship. Despite the challenges it may present, Martens’ aesthetic has wholeheartedly embraced Diesel, with a profound recognition and awareness of the brand’s history. Renzo Rosso, who now appears to be one of Italy’s most enlightened fashion entrepreneurs, has granted him this opportunity—the same applies to Marni and Jil Sander. The demonstration that the method works is that the OTB Group closed 2022 with a +14% turnover, something luxury conglomerates can only dream of. The only element absent from this flawless formula is that Diesel must completely reconsider its retail approach to align the new vision with the shopping experience. It’s time to move away from catering to sixty-year-olds in search of ripped jeans; instead, spaces should be crafted as hubs for a community that flourishes online but finds it challenging to connect with physical locations. Perhaps a store could serve as a venue for dining, studying, listening to music, or watching old movies. A space of hospitality and empathy where commercial concerns take a back seat. This is particularly crucial since today’s youth lack such environments. Fiorucci pioneered such a revolution in the 1970s. Perhaps Diesel, with its influence, could replicate this achievement.

FENDI


The Peekaboo, Fendi’s bestselling bag, is divided into two perfectly symmetrical and equal parts. One can be left open to reveal what one wants to share about oneself, while the other remains closed, delineating the private. A metal bar in the middle adds a magical balance to the bag. It’s hard not to recognize a narrative metaphor of female identity, balancing work and family, and the constant search for equilibrium between extremes. It’s a bag but also a manifesto with a powerful symbolic framework created by Silvia Venturini Fendi and Marco de Vincenzo. Strangely, Fendi’s clothing department (except for everything designed by Silvia) has always struggled to express deep narratives, almost as if the garments were conceived as accessories to the bags. After all, Lagerfeld was always and only a great narrator of himself. Even Kim Jones has failed to build his vision and has slowly settled into beautiful, clean, and neutral collections. I believe the underlying problem is that Fendi is a brand invented, managed, and brought to success by women, and that somehow prevents men from accessing the deeper layers of its existence and history. I believe the underlying problem is that Fendi is a brand invented, managed, and brought to success by women, and that somehow prevents men from accessing the deeper layers of its essence and history.
This is a powerful matriarchy that actually doesn’t need men. In a world where female empowerment is incessantly discussed, there are likely no brands as deeply feminine as Fendi. Perhaps this aspect, which tends to be forgotten, should be acknowledged and emphasized. And, of course, admired.

MOSCHINO

Do you remember Alessandro Michele’s first Gucci fashion show, which was prepared in just a few months and made history for forever changing the fashion world? It’s very likely that this first collection by Adrian Appiolaza for Moschino, also prepared in very little time, could follow the same destiny because, yes, it was revolutionary. Appiolaza delved into the Maison’s archive, bringing out many of the iconic pieces, but instead of attempting to reinterpret them, he presented them almost identically, with a charmingly Dadaist attitude. With a light touch, Moschino’s new creative director avoided homage, nostalgia, revisiting, remembering, and regret. By moving the distinctive marks of the most irreverent Italian designers to a place without emotionality, forced ironies, or Gloria Gaynor in the background, Moschino’s bright value system returned to life, and its objects, prints, and writings regained meaning. Crushed by decades of stereotypes, Franco’s messages had lost all meaning, becoming empty phrases or commercial expedients. But now they have been reborn with Adrian—the word “peace” on the jerseys means peace again. I rarely get excited about a fashion show anymore. Still, tonight at La Permanente, I had the distinct feeling that a new door had opened, letting in a light and fragrant breeze—something we all desperately need, which is essentially the hope that things can change. Things have changed tonight, and seeing what happens next will be wonderful.

BLUMARINE

And so, as expected, someone begins to thunder against quiet bourgeois luxury. Adrian Appiolaza did it for Moschino, and Walter Chiapponi did it, in an even more radical way, for Blumarine. Delving into a brand associated with a vibrant, airy, and somewhat excessively sweet aesthetic could have dangerously pulled it onto a risky ground, leading to a fate of superficiality, two-dimensionality, and, to some extent, nonsense. On the contrary, Chiapponi employed the freezing and nihilistic gaze of the 1990s to subject the delicate flowers, ruffles, and typical Blumarine transparencies to a survival test. Rather than emerging weaker, they emerged stronger and likely gained a sense they had never previously possessed. The sensation of exhaustion, pain, and abandonment that permeated each look reintroduced an element of sincerity and truth often absent in the fashion world.
Without embellishments, excessive design, or overdoing it, Walter has portrayed the world as it currently stands, as well as his inner world and that of all of us who desperately need friendship, warmth, and love rather than just clothing. We need true stories to believe in, and the memory of Davide Renne imprinted on Walter’s shirt reminded us how life can flood into work without overwhelming it, on the contrary, making it more authentic.

GUCCI

Sabato De Sarno mentioned that he is not interested in storytelling, theming, or runway performances. What matters to him is the product, quality, detail, and wearability—in a word, reality, or rather, a garment’s ability to actualize in the world. This is a serious and respectable viewpoint but also highly debatable. Narration means conceiving a project around a story, a protagonist, or an action that concludes with a transformation. A film, a book, or a television series are all the more interesting when their narrative scope explores spaces we do not know and leaves us better off than how we started. Even a runway show can achieve this, and there are countless examples.
I can mention Prada as the ultimate example of distorting reality and its way of delivering it back to us in a deeper, more inhabitable form. The two approaches are antithetical, but what’s interesting is that they do not exclude each other; in fact, they seek integration. Gucci’s narrative-less world can undoubtedly survive and thrive, but it misses out on the significant opportunity to transform a brand into a narrative subject—granting it a strength it otherwise would not have. Telling stories isn’t merely a tactic to blur consciences or aid marketing efforts; it can also be a powerful tool for change and for building a community around a value system—a system of recognition and appreciation. I believe this is the immense challenge awaiting De Sarno and Gucci, one they will have to confront, willingly or not, sooner or later.

PRADA

A black silk crepe dress adorned with pressed silk bows, worn over a slip with Deco embroidery and military boots. A heavy woollen male jacket worn over a light embroidered linen dress with an apron of the same wool in the form of pressed male trousers. A silk slip with soft pink shearling applications. An evening dress in a patchwork of recycled jacquard nylon. Prada presented not just a runway show but a monument to complexity, asserting that linear narratives are obsolete in contemporary times. Within it were references to early feminist tailors of the late nineteenth century, pre-Nazi decoration, and the era of wartime militarism. Additionally, it explored themes of intimate revelation, bourgeois elegance and its unsettling domination. It seemed like an impossible encyclopedia of twentieth-century fashion history, devoid of nostalgia, but instead driven by a voracious desire to construct new landscapes to dwell unrestrained. Miuccia and Raf have chosen to elevate their narrative significantly, making an explosive statement about the essence of being a designer and emphasizing the central role of reflecting on reality. I hadn’t seen something so beautiful, sensible, and coherent in years.
As I looked through those magnificent garments, fashion felt like a space once again deserving of respect, a workshop to construct the future, a vast room infused with the most evocative scent: hope.

BOTTEGA VENETA

Strangely, this fashion week has led me to discuss methods more than content. And that’s a good thing—perhaps some schools will decide to include a serious course on design methodology in their curriculum. Matthieu Blazy at Bottega Veneta doesn’t trace grand narratives or make explicit references. His work delves into individual garments, analyzing and then deconstructing them, sometimes stripping them of their original meaning. A shirt remains a shirt but has exaggerated volume and stripes in hallucinatory colours, giving it an obsessive character. Another shirt with a mass of rigid organza feathers transforms into an evening gown that sways gracefully and romanticly. This is an open-heart surgery with the risk that the patient may die each time, but Blazy doesn’t care about this possibility because he grants himself the power of a demiurge, the freedom to say what he wants. With this collection, he has approached everyday life, and while the result may seem more straightforward, the design process has been more profound. The objects are less flamboyant than usual but demonstrate how this method can produce stunning garments far from mediocrity. Perhaps this sense of reconciliation led Blazy to take on a gigantic challenge: surpassing the historical block of woven leather to propose bags in smooth leather—going back to before 1975, the year of the introduction of the iconic weave. In this case, too, the past becomes elastic, a realm of knowledge rather than terror, a piece of the recipe for rebirth. At Bottega Veneta, they fear nothing, and the project succeeds because, beneath the solidity of tradition, they allow the chaos of creativity to flow freely.

MARNI

As previously mentioned, exceptional outcomes are only achieved when focusing on the method. Francesco Risso ventured into a white cavern of nothingness, not to discover the hidden essence of things or indulge in a self-imposed hermitage but to contemplate contemporary fashion and its ties to the industry and the market. The show was distinctly divided into two parts: the first was radically minimalist, cold, and industrial, while the second was instinctive, artisanal, and human. I believe Risso is conveying that his seemingly iconoclastic and artistic approach does not contradict market principles; instead, it underscores the importance of the human touch in creating objects imbued with meaning, even if fabricated by machines and replicated endlessly. This isn’t a clash between civilization and nature ‘à la Thoreau’. Instead, it’s an amalgamation of factors contributing to a functional project. There’s no anonymity here, no avoidance of judgment. Risso’s stance is highly political and addresses a crisis-ridden system that fails to recognize people’s desires and churns out collections devoid of history. His solution lies in the human element, which is rationally diluted within a brand that before him only represented happiness and well-being. Times of crisis lead to deep reflections, and this time, Risso expressed profound, constructive, regenerative thoughts.

SS24 REVIEWS

VALENTINO SS24

With one of the most successful collections since taking the helm at Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli has demonstrated to everyone that reducing doesn’t mean taking away meaning but, if anything, amplifying it. Working with almost none of the typical colours and decoration associated with Valentino, Piccioli developed a cut-out technique, which he referred to as “alto-rilievo,” effectively transforming fabrics into pieces of jewellery that, when combined, give a radically new meaning to the word embroidery. This is what a couture house should do: transport dusty archives and techniques into the present, keeping them alive while imbuing them with new significance. It should also demonstrate that even the seemingly simplest garment contains a mastery not found in places lacking this kind of culture.

However, the issues with this runway show were the visually heavy location and FKA Twigs’ dance performance, which overwhelmed and diverted attention from the meticulous work on the garments. Perhaps this collection deserved to be showcased in a white cube or a cherry blossom forest, emphasising its simplicity or enhancing its understated romanticism. It seems that lately, the Valentino team enjoys working in vast spaces with extravagant and sometimes unfocused cultural references when they should simply embrace the idea that the brand’s extraordinariness lies in its ability to make the everyday extraordinary. In other words, to turn something seemingly simple into an immortal object. There’s no need for artifice to tell that story—just a bit of space and a lot of light.

BALENCIAGA SS24

It is very difficult to explain what Demna has done with this Balenciaga collection. To be extremely concise, one might say he managed to speak of hope. By gathering friends and important people in his life, from his mother (the first exit) to his husband (the final exit in an upcycled wedding dress), and even the influential fashion critic Cathy Horyn, he decided to candidly address what is close to his heart, what he believes in, and what drives him.

Isabelle Huppert’s voice, reciting a sartorial treatise from the early 20th century in a disjointed manner, was a clear reference to the collective obsession with sartorial simplification. It was a way to reject it, to say that it cannot be an escape route or a means of reconstruction. On the other hand, the garments, seemingly simple but actually layered, aged, destroyed, or recycled, represented Demna abandoning the path of correctness and returning to speak of darkness, of difference, of the splendour of individual personalities, of truth.

Demna is the great demiurge who fights the system from within the system. He is the error that the matrix cannot erase, a precious source of truth that once again manages to remain beyond control. Those who, like me, were moved by seeing a hero rise again after being torn apart by the forces of evil had the deep conviction that in the world, not only in fashion, there are voices with such devastating power that no one ever, will be able to silence them. Today is a beautiful day.

SCHIAPPARELLI SS24

According to affaritaliani.it, the latest financial report filed by Interbasic Holding, the company owned by Diego della Valle that owns Schiaparelli, shows a loss of 20 million euros, despite an annual revenue of 1.8 million euros. This is not exactly a picture of a thriving business; in fact, it’s likely the description of a rather unsuccessful journey that began in 2010 with the acquisition of the brand. The main problem undoubtedly lies in the creative direction of Daniel Roseberry, who, despite embarking on an interesting exploratory journey into maximalism with haute couture, seems to lack the ability to ground the brand’s symbolic heritage. This dissatisfaction is strongly evident in the ready-to-wear collections, which struggle to translate the fireworks, oriented toward the red carpet, from the haute couture collections into commercial terms.

Behind Roseberry, there is, of course, a malfunctioning corporate mechanism that struggles incredibly to work with Roseberry’s overflowing imagination. Schiaparelli is a very mysterious project with strong media appeal, and perhaps that’s the only reason it interests its owner. Yet, this is one of the brands with the deepest legacy in the entire history of fashion, and in fact, envisioning a simple black jacket with ribcage bones in slight relief doesn’t seem like such a complicated task. But everyone, including Zanini and Guyon before Roseberry, drowned in the stormy sea of signs left by Elsa, unable to control it. Who knows if a pair of female eyes, instead of male ones, could achieve the miracle?

RICK OWENS SS24

“I Still Believe (In Love)” by Diana Ross, played on repeat across the vast expanse of the Palais de Tokyo, served as an obsessive soundtrack of Rick Owens’s show. It was a sonic backdrop and a signpost towards a possible path for facing the future. This revelation naturally came from one of the few genuine auteurs remaining in the world of fashion.

Emerging from the profound darkness of a personal battle against mainstream culture, a post-apocalyptic vision comprising black, sex, and pain, Rick Owens resurfaced with violent splashes of colour and ethereal fabrics. These elements spoke of a somewhat antiquated concept: romanticism. Romanticism, with its nostalgic yearnings, tear-filled eyes, and impassioned hearts, was a revolutionary movement that shattered the male chauvinist and bellicose rationalism of the 19th century. It reintroduced poetry as a fundamental element of survival and placed affection at the core of storytelling.

Rick Owens mirrored this spirit, charting a course out of the darkness with one of his most exquisite collections to date. Beyond the massive mountain of bourgeois minimalism, there exists the possibility of breathing anew, infused with fresh inspiration, brimming with colour, joy, bodies, masquerade dances, and tears of passion. It’s a marvellous equilibrium between the power of darkness and the optimism of light. As Byron once said, “And thus the heart will break, yet brokenly live on.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IAlMYHPbSTo&ab_channel=RICKOWENS

UNDERCOVER SS24

Jun Takahashi has covered each piece of his Undercover collection with an extremely thin layer of tulle, almost like a shroud. This may serve the purpose of seeing the collection more clearly and, in a sense, a clearer reflection of ourselves. He has contemplated the significance of clothing in today’s context, even going so far as to enclose live butterflies within skirts to remind us of the human element. This human element represents a wholly Western construct of attire, one that aligns with contemporary criteria of necessity.

His approach is characterised by an emotional connection to universal and personal history. We encounter flowers, prints from his paintings, embroidery, and various colours in this collection, which, instead of agitating our senses or adopting a circus-like flamboyance, have a calming effect. It’s like when we pause to appreciate a magnificent painting, perfectly framed and displayed against a reassuring white wall.

Undercover is a brand that consistently operates outside conventional commercial norms and stands as one of the few brands offering insights into what lies ahead. While its vision may not be entirely reassuring, it is undeniably reconstructive. There’s no attempt to erase the past; instead, nostalgia finds an essential place within it. To reconcile with our culture, we must examine it, acknowledge its value, and perhaps grant ourselves forgiveness for our past errors.

Jun Takahashi’s work, characterised by a delicate layer of tulle, allows us to discern a dense layer of life beneath it clearly. It’s contained, momentarily arrested, and seemingly trapped, yet undeniably alive.

SAINT LAURENT SS24

And even at Saint Laurent, we have decided to set aside storytelling and take refuge, for the moment, in the tranquillity of a poplin cotton safari jacket repeated endlessly. As we reach a point where runway show reviews are becoming interchangeable, we wonder if everything we have learned so far about how fashion operates is correct. Perhaps the truth is that the mechanism is finding a different form of balance, one where the product is the expression of a rational commercial approach, and meaning is subsequently constructed through communication.

In fact, this approach has always been the norm for many brands until the 1990s when mega-designers like McQueen, Galliano, and Margiela introduced runway shows aimed at generating collective excitement in order to break away from the prevailing sense of boredom. However, Those runway shows drugged the fashion scene for a long time, making it dependent on visual upheaval, dramatic twists, and completely reliant on often brilliant but uncontrollable personalities.

Now, there appears to be a normalisation of discourse and a deliberate simplification of the message, ensuring that the product you see corresponds to what you actually buy.  Final customers need it, but super brands need it even more to emerge unscathed from this state of apparent calm. After all, if you think about it, these safari jackets are stunning and wearable objects. They neither add nor subtract anything from the work of Vaccarello or Saint Laurent and if we feel the need for excitement, we can always listen to Mahler’s Adagietto from the Fifth Symphony. Perhaps with headphones so as not to disturb anyone.

PRADA SS24

Miuccia Prada has found her successor in Raf Simons and bid farewell to her “adoptive son”, Fabio Zambernardi. Surprisingly, this transition resulted in their most successful collection since the new magical duo was formed.

There are numerous ways to work through subtraction. Still, in this context, there appears to be a kind of magical recipe for turning the ordinary into the exceptional and the everyday into the extraordinary. This recipe involves deconstructing the product to its very core and then reconstructing it joyfully, along with a significant renewal of meaning.

Raf Simons has come to understand that Prada is a project centred around meticulous attention to detail. It’s about choosing a slightly thicker thread than usual or a print that may seem familiar but is, in fact, entirely novel. This approach involves building from the inside, breaking free from the stale rules of the product, yet ultimately producing precisely that: the product.

Miuccia, on the other hand, has learned that the northern chill can work wonders for a brand that needs synthesis, rationality, and lightning. Together, they’ve become a solid team, shaping Prada’s future. In this process, both of them have made sacrifices. He sacrificed his instinct for drama while she let go of someone who was almost like a son to her. They did so consciously, understanding that sometimes, by relinquishing certain parts of ourselves – much like pruning dead branches from a plant – we can allow ourselves to be reborn, to endure longer, and to bring more happiness to everyone else. This process is called sacrifice, and it’s a display of intelligence. It’s an extraordinary recipe that many others should take to heart.

GUCCI SS24

I left the Gucci fashion show deeply disappointed, perhaps even a bit angry. I decided not to attend any more shows today and to walk back home to give myself time to collect my thoughts. Because this was an important event that deserved serious reflection. What we saw from Gucci was not a nostalgic reflection on the past or a futuristic tale of the future. It was a description of the present. Or perhaps, better put, a reaction to the present.

In the midst of uncertain horizons, schizophrenic markets, and a terrifying sense of uncertainty, Sabato de Sarno constructed a collection full of clear certainties, a widespread and reassuring sense of understandable elegance, an everyday vision easily digestible by the masses of double-G buyers. What everyone expected and indeed got. The question now is whether it’s right for fashion today to have the sole task of describing and no longer imagining alternative worlds, possible paths of rebirth, change, and resurrection.

Is it right for fashion not to be a place where doubts emerge anymore, where we try to peel away the smooth surface of things, but rather a place where everyone waits together for the storm to pass before resuming sailing? I don’t have an answer, but what I feel is not enthusiasm or hope. It’s a kind of subtle and amorphous desolation that comes to those who would like to see explosions, fireworks, beating hearts. Today at Gucci, hearts weren’t beating. And I wonder whether this is the sole means of preserving our hearts or if, hidden somewhere, there exist others—more audacious, more untamed, and ultimately, more courageous.

BOTTEGA VENETA SS24

Carol Christian Poell, one of the absolute geniuses in the re-conceptualization of craftsmanship in fashion, told us, just before arriving at Bottega Veneta, that Italian craftsmanship is disappearing, bent under predatory market logics, and that we should do something to preserve our immense heritage very quickly. The response to his profound cry of pain has come clear from the most successful collection Matthieu Blazy has created for Bottega Veneta. Each outfit could be the subject of a small treatise, given the complexity of the work on craftsmanship and manual skills. Exploring centuries-old techniques and bringing them together in a balanced discourse, without sentimentality or obviousness, is the impossible task that Blazy seems to perform with less and less effort each time, building a world made up of very different pieces that convey an image of peace rather than chaos. This time, unlike the first three collections, the gaze has expanded from Italy to the entire world, and references from all parts of the planet have come together in a powerful message of peace. If there is a way to rethink the very concept of elegance centuries-old and clash it with the hands and culture of those who invisibly sew, embroider, cut, or paint, it is this. If it is possible to save fashion itself from its agonising need to endlessly self-reproduce, it is this. Bottega Veneta’s objects are small precious jewels to be cherished, observed, and loved as we cherish, observe, and love the letter of an old master that we find in our hands, pulling it out from old drawers. A master who told us that our task in the world is to respect its richness, to share its knowledge, to make it more beautiful. In a word, to love it.

FENDI SS24

Decadence seems to be the central theme of this Milan Fashion Week. The uncontrollable gossip about who will leave from where and who will take their place has reached unprecedented levels. Among the impressive whirlwind of changing seats on the horizon, there are also rumours that this was Kim Jones’ last show for Fendi. This anxious and indistinct chatter among industry insiders is making the fashion week feel more like a day at the horse races than a series of runway shows for the upcoming summer.

Under a grey sky, pouring rain, and an uncertain horizon, Fendi, however, presented something beautiful and reassuring, perhaps not optimistic but certainly balanced, practical, and pleasant. Whether it’s true or not that Kim Jones is stepping aside for someone else, there was an air of stability at Fendi. It’s as if in this stormy moment when all the world’s brands are struggling, the recipe for moving forward, the only possible recipe, is to focus on creating everyday, wearable products without overthinking. It’s as if the wonderful artisanal machine of a brand about to turn 100 years old can weather any storm thanks to the work, care, and craftsmanship of the many people who have worked there for years.

Decadence is when the current system of ideas becomes unusable but not yet replaceable with a new one. Perhaps everything will change, both at Fendi and in the rest of the fashion world. Still, the invisible, all-Italian machine that manufactures the product will always be there, accompanying change without disruptions, without violence, with evident and immense love.

CAVALLI SS24

In a moment that we can rightfully refer to as a “restoration,” not only in the context of the complex global political situation but also in fashion, there are fortunately territories that couldn’t care less about quiet luxury. One such territory is Roberto Cavalli by Fausto Puglisi, which, with unwavering instinct, tells tales of unabashed eroticism and hyper-decorativism – in a word, what everyone wrongly labels as bad taste.

This often judgmental and anxiety-inducing category is, in reality, one of the possible narratives of femininity (and masculinity). While it has existed since the time of the Egyptians, today, more than ever, it doesn’t align with the many brands’ desires for tranquillity. Despite Beyonce and Taylor Swift (both dressed by Puglisi) embodying and popularising this theme, for most of the current fashion world, it’s better to forget about high slits, tight fits, and embellishments because they are considered out of place.

Puglisi stands his ground on the front lines of floral and animalier prints like a lone fighter in a metaphorical conflict between the bourgeoisie and the people, between power and freedom. His collections, carefree, playful, and provocative, have never been so discordant from the rest of the global fashion, and that’s precisely why they should be protected like an endangered species.

This kind of taste, which is essentially an alternative life perspective to the prevailing one, exists and struggles alongside us. It’s hoped that differing viewpoints, sometimes uncomfortable and embarrassing, will continue to remain at odds with the mainstream and express narratives that are less heard, less elegant, yet fiercely alive.

DOLCE & GABBANA SS24

Hidden and shielded behind the idea of a revival of themselves, Dolce and Gabbana have systematically tackled a topic that many have forgotten: eroticism. In times of counter-reform and reaction, one of the few brands in the world that can afford to roam through the vast territories of exhibited sexuality without suffering repercussions from the market (or being afraid of them) is demonstrating that there are alternative discourses to the prevailing ones. Specifically, this collection explores the elegant, and perhaps more perverse, side of eroticism, one that descends directly from Saint Laurent but, in this case, passes through Italian audacity, the liberating belief that conflicts can also be resolved through bodies. Dolce and Gabbana’s story is never one of waiting, of renunciation, of privation, but a narrative of concessions, of skin, of warmth, of pleasure. Working only in black and white, their message is even sharper and more contemporary because it is inscribed within a simple aesthetic that is understandable even to those who don’t know what the 90s were. We live in a country where talking about sexual education in schools is a mortal sin, and in this way, we do not provide the younger generations with the technical and emotional tools to enjoy physical pleasure without worries. Dolce and Gabbana have always conveyed a powerful positive message to those who do not see a hell of frustration in their bodies but a paradise of joy. But also to those who still do not know this simple thing and greatly need a symbolic universe in which to recognise themselves, through which to understand that we are beings made of flesh. And this is fine. It’s beautiful. It’s capable of bringing joy, so much joy.

MARCO RAMBALDI SS24

Young Italian brands (young is an adjective that does not define their identity at all, on the contrary, it is limiting, but there are no better ones) are not in good health. Not so much in terms of commercial results but in terms of visibility and recognition. The responsibility is not generically with the system but with a specific set of co-causes too complex to explain here, ranging from the structure of the fashion show calendar to the lack of attention from investors, to the neglect of the press, especially the Italian one. Those like Marco Rambaldi, who do not give up, are doing a superhuman effort, fighting every day to secure the last roll of fabric needed for production, the last collaboration, the last consultation. With one of the most successful collections of his still short professional life, Rambaldi has not only demonstrated a powerful identity and a recognizable aesthetic but also the tools to face the invisible perfect storm, entirely Italian, that rages against those who try and, as in his case, succeed. The only brand in Milan to tirelessly promote the idea of inclusion of bodies and genders, Marco should be protected like the Javan rhinoceros, of which only 60 specimens remain. And those in power (in the true sense of the word) should wonder how it is possible to allow a system not to die if new births are not nurtured. The ones that, more fragile but beautiful, need protective gazes, friendly hands, and lots and lots of care.

BURBERRY SS24

There are fashion shows on which it is challenging to express a critique, whether positive or negative. The second collection by Daniel Lee for Burberry, presented at London Fashion week, is undoubtedly one of those. Lee has chosen to move away from the over-design of the first season and has focused on portraying a shapeless everyday life that often verges on banality. In this moment of frenzied chaos that all major brands are experiencing due to a complex conjunctural crisis, perhaps his response has been to concentrate on wearable items, reminiscent of what Christopher Bailey used to do when he was in creative direction. Perhaps. Or maybe the anxiety to survive in the markets and demonstrate continuous growth towards infinity instead of pushing into new territories is blocking the innovation mechanism, and collectively, CEOs, designers, marketing directors, and merchandisers have chosen not to choose. It’s a bit like deciding to admire the view of the Titanic as it sinks. In a transitional season, Burberry’s recipe may not be the winning one, but I fear it will be the one followed by almost everyone. Something is entirely absent from fashion at this moment: courage. And if someone doesn’t decide to launch the lifeboats, both the crew and passengers will end up in the icy waters of the Atlantic. And they won’t survive.

A column by Alexandra Hildreth

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Fashion Shows Reviews by Andrea Batilla