Fashion Week Returns to Milan

Milan Fashion Week kicks off today with seven straight days of runways, designer showrooms, and fashion exhibitions 

Milan is widely regarded as Italy’s fashion capital, home to world-renowned luxury designer brands such as Giorgio Armani and Dolce & Gabbana. The northern industrial city has carved a spot out for itself as one of the world’s top fashion cities, joining the ranks of legendary giants such as New York City, Paris, and London to form a group known as the “Big Four.” Milan Fashion Week (MFW) takes place twice a year in September and February, a glamorous spectacle meant to showcase and promote Italian fashion to a national and international audience through “sfilate” (runway shows), designer showrooms, and fashion exhibitions. This year’s September fashion week, debuting designers’ Spring/Summer 2023 collections,  kicks off today and will run through September 26. 

THE LEGACY OF ITALIAN FASHION

Milan Fashion Week was created in 1958 by the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (National Chamber of Italian Fashion) with the intention of promoting and protecting Italian fashion talent. The move also came about in response to the demand for slightly more affordable luxury design products to counter those being produced by Parisian designers. Milan’s strategic position as an industrial, manufacturing city naturally drew many designers to establish their brands’ headquarters there. It wasn’t until the 1970s and the 1980s, with the increasing popularity of designers Giorgio Armani and Gianni Versace, that Milan was catapulted into the realm of international fashion excellence. Furthermore, Versace’s glamorously extravagant 1990s runway shows, walked by the likes of supermodels Cindy Crawford, Naomi Campbell, and Linda Evangelista helped cement Milan as a fashion powerhouse. This level of excess and glamor was soon matched by other Italian houses such as Gucci, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana. 

Today, Milan Fashion Week is still organized by the  Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI). Its schedule and lineups are still ruled by many of the original designer brands that helped launch it into fame – Giorgio Armani, Prada, Gucci, and above all Versace, whose iconic black and gold designs have remained within their original stylistic vein despite Gianni Versace’s death, an homage on behalf of his sister Donatella Versace. Other luxury designers have also joined the ranks along the way, including Fendi, Missoni, Moschino, Valentino, Hugo Boss, Miu Miu (a subsidiary of Prada), and Salvatore Ferragamo, all of which have given a coveted sense of status and luxury to the “made in Italy” tags stitched onto their products.

THIS YEAR’S SCHEDULE

Shows are exclusive, invite-only events reserved for VIPs, industry insiders, and the press. But that doesn’t mean that the runways won’t be able to be watched and enjoyed in real time – a maxi-screen will be set up in the heart of Milan’s fashion district in Piazza San Babila so that anyone can enjoy the show.

This year’s Milan Fashion Week will include 67 shows from more than 60 designers and brands. Each day will host 10 to 12 shows, held in one-hour increments at various locations throughout the city, beginning at 9:30 a.m. and ending as late as 9:30 p.m. Designers Antonio Marras, Calcaterra and Marco Rambaldi will set in motion the week’s first shows. The last day of MFW will consist of five 30-minute digital shows starting at 10 a.m. by designers such as Byblos and Laura Biagotti, who also premiered her Fall 2022 collection digitally for February’s edition of MFW. The digital component first debuted in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Digital shows can be streamed on the CNMI’s website, which will also feature a section for users to visit virtual showrooms and flick through photo and video galleries of designers’ collections. 

SPECIAL EVENTS

On September 20, students selected to participate in the eighth edition of Milano Moda Graduate, a three-month-long program where fashion students design a collection under the mentorship of industry professionals, will present their work at the Fashion Hub in the Museo Della Permanente. The program is organized by the CNMI to celebrate and promote Italy’s top fashion schools nationally and worldwide. Students will present their work through a runway to a panel of judges who will award prizes. 

Actress Rosy de Palma will be the host of the fifth CNMI Sustainable Fashion Awards, an event that recognizes both Italian and International fashion brands for their commitment to sustainability. The awards ceremony will take place at Teatro Alla Scala on September 25.

Asia London Palomba

Asia London Palomba is a trilingual freelance journalist from Rome, Italy, currently pursuing her master's in journalism at New York University (NYU). In the past, her work on culture, travel, and history has been published in The Boston Globe, Atlas Obscura, and The Christian Science Monitor. In her free time, Asia enjoys traveling home to Italy to spend time with family and friends, drinking Hugo Spritzes, and making her nonna's homemade cavatelli. 

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