For most of the past decade, the movement of designers between different fashion houses has been a topic of discussion as well as the trends their work dictates. ‘Have you heard that so-and-so drives here?’; ‘I heard he goes there’; “This designer is definitely going to take over this house” is the kind of conversation you can expect at industry events and on the front row of fashion week.
Looking back today, the days when designers remained creatively responsible for the fashions of a single fashion house for decades are long gone – consider Karl Lagerfeld and his 36 years at Chanel as an example of how things were once done. Compared to his peers, even Nicolas Ghesquière’s nearly decade-long tenure at Louis Vuitton feels positively long. But so far, and apart from Raf Simons joining Miuccia at Prada, Kim Jones adding Fendi to his résumé and revitalizing Daniel Lee and then being replaced by Matthieu Blazy at Bottega Veneta, Milan have largely stayed out of the changing world. Guards narrative that has dominated the other capitals. But this Milan Fashion Week, four new names are coming to the Italian capital to shake things up and inject new energy into the schedule.
Most anticipated is London upstart Maximillian Davis, who ends up at heritage brand Salvatore Ferragamo. After three stellar seasons of polishing shows at talent incubator Fashion East, he arrives in Milan with the no-nonsense task of reinvigorating the 95-year-old brand. But if anyone has shown this to be promising, Davis certainly has.
Already in his first season, he displayed a strong sense of identity in his clothes that felt decidedly mature for a label in its infancy. Maximilian (as his label is known) combined his Trinidadian heritage with a ’60s-era space-age approach to sharp cuts and crisp hems, and quickly became a favorite of those in the spotlight. Rihanna, Dua Lipa and Kylie Jenner have each worn pieces that follow a similar starting point to that of Mr. Ferragamo himself.
Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland were among the young Salvatore’s clients when he launched his shoe brand in California and quickly won over Hollywood starlets. Now Davis – who was handpicked for the role by Marco Gobbetti, the CEO of Ferragamo who brought Phoebe Philo to Celine, and we all know how that went – will become the Italian heritage house with its distinct aesthetic and, perhaps more importantly, revitalize a contemporary and integrative perspective.
Marco de Vincenzo
Elsewhere on the calendar, Marco de Vincenzo is preparing to make his mark by taking the top job at Etro. A household name in Milan – who will retain his post as chief designer for leather goods at Fendi – de Vincenzo joins the house after a change of investors. If his work for his own label, which closed in 2020, is everything, then de Vincenzo is the perfect choice.
Established in 1968, it had been designed by the Etro family up to that point, and it stuck to the bohemian aesthetic that characterized that era for much of the decades that followed. De Vincenzo’s work has always played with color and pattern at his eponymous label, and that’s sure to continue here. However, we can also assume that he will be asked to bring his accessories expertise to the Etro role. Could this brand be the one to come up with the next must-have-it bag? No doubt they hope so.
De Vincenzo isn’t the only one taking over a Milan house long-run by his founding family. Former Burberry, Givenchy, Margiela and Hermès designer Filippo Grazioli is in the same position but at 69-year-old knitwear brand Missoni.
With Angela Missoni taking on a new role as President, it’s up to 40-year-old Grazioli to envision a new creative vision for the recognizable zig-zag knitwear that has made the Italian label so popular. “I am grateful for the opportunity that has been given to me and the opportunity to develop my experience in a new vision that preserves the cheerfulness, freshness, color sense and positivity that are core qualities of Missoni,” he said in a Statement published at the time of his appointment. Now, as that debut draws near, thoughts turn to how Grazioli will find liberation in the zigzag, rather than being crushed by Missoni’s established, fashion-savvy identity.
With resumes well-sorted and roles already in place, the appointments of De Vincenzo and Grazioli feel like well-considered decisions that indicate a desire to keep the brand identity somewhat intact. But at Bally, a new story will unfold during Milan Fashion Week. The Swiss giant has named LA-based streetwear superstar Rhuidi Villaseñor as its new creative director. The founder of Rhude, the label beloved by Bella Hadid, Cynthia Erivo and Justin Bieber, will aim to lead the 171-year-old brand into a new style era, following in the footsteps of other luxury giants who have turned to creative directors with streetwear beginnings to huge commercial and critical success.
The 30-year-old Villaseñor is more than up to the challenge, having long been familiar with the traditional Swiss label, which he says is “very close to his heart”. “Bally has been worn through generations of my family, from my grandfather to myself,” the designer said in the announcement. “I’ve always admired the Swiss approach to luxury, its discreet representation of excellence and symbiotic openness and concern for the environment.”
With these new dates taking their place in Milan’s long-established houses, all eyes are on the Italian fashion capital to evoke a week of style balance that bodes well for an exciting season ahead. Get well soon!