MOVE OVER HERITAGE BRANDS- THERE’S SOME NEW KIDS IN TOWN PART 2

- - Fashion Shows

Looks from Feben’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

In the vibrant world of fashion, Milan and Paris stand as bastions of innovation, creativity, and timeless elegance. With their rich cultural heritage, a plethora of heritage brands and unwavering dedication to craftsmanship, these fashion capitals have finally opened their arms to new design talent. This week’s blog is part two in our coverage of fashion’s newest darlings.

Initiatives such as fashion incubators, mentorship programs, and grants are gaining momentum, providing invaluable support to emerging designers as they embark on their creative journeys. Through these initiatives, Milan and Paris are reaffirming their commitment to fostering the next generation of fashion visionaries and ensuring that their legacies endure for years to come.

By embracing and nurturing young talent, they are not only preserving their rich sartorial heritage, but are also pushing the boundaries of creativity and innovation. As emerging designers continue to make their mark on the global stage, one thing is certain: the future of fashion shines bright in the hands of those who dare to dream in the shadow of Milan and Paris.

MILAN

Milan, Italy’s fashion capital, is synonymous with luxury and sophistication. It’s a city where tradition seamlessly intertwines with modernity, providing a fertile ground for emerging designers to thrive. One of the defining features of Milan’s fashion scene is its commitment to craftsmanship and attention to detail, traits that are instilled in aspiring designers from the outset.

Milan’s Fashion Week serves as a platform for emerging designers to showcase their collections alongside established fashion houses. This exposure not only catapults their careers but also solidifies Milan’s position as a nurturing hub for burgeoning talent.

Here are a few of Milan’s emerging designers:

FEBEN

A look from Feben’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

This season, Feben was selected and sponsored by Dolce & Gabbana. Feben, is a London designer with Ethiopian roots who was born in North Korea and grew up in Sweden.

A Central Saint Martins 2020 graduate, Feben sells her designs to established retailers, Ssense and Browns. She is known for her colorful, form-fitting clothes and has developed a cult following with celebrities like Beyoncé, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, and Janelle Monáe.

The designer often plays with texture in her work, and claims “Because if you can work with textures, you can create really cool things.” She went on in an interview with Vogue: “I want you to feel something, either with your eyes, heart, or your hands, and I find texture so fun.” This season Feben cut her signature puckered “Twist” dresses in velvet, which was oh so flattering.

MICHAELA STARK LAUNCHED HER NEW LINGERIE LINE PANTY

A look from Panty’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Michaela Stark)

Australian artist/designer Michaela Stark’s bold lingerie and ready-to-wear line, Panty, goes up to a size 5XL, which is truly size inclusive. The collection is a celebration of all body types with its transparent bloomers, corsets, garters and baby-doll dresses. Panty celebrates the body’s natural curves and does not conceal them with rigid shapewear. Stark showcased her debut collection in Milan at the Fondazione Sozzani via an exhibition and a performance called “Michaela Stark’s Panty Show.” “I put an obscene amount of time into making lingerie that makes fat desirable,” Stark told Kerry Olsen for The New York Times.

Stark launched her couture business in 2022, operating on a made-to-order basis. She has quickly become known for creating avant-garde pieces created from corsets and ribbons. The pieces are constructed with strategically placed holes to create bulges or cradle the curve of a breast or stomach, according to Vogue Business.

Stark’s creations has been featured in photoshoots for a number of publications, including Vogue Italia, Dazed and Perfect magazine. She has also collaborated with Jean Paul Gaultier and in September 2023, was selected to design a capsule for the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, as the brand’s aim is to be size inclusive.

SAGABOI

A look from Sagaboi’s Fall 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Tagwalk)

Sagaboi was founded in 2015 by Geoff K. Cooper. The label is inspired by the Caribbean region’s culture, history, lifestyle, people and practices. So naturally for his Milan Fashion Week debut, Cooper brought Caribbean Flair to Milan with a calypso music-filled show for both his menswear and womenswear collections.

Cooper’s background was not in design, according to WWD, he was a menswear editor. Launching Sagaboi was very personal to him because he wanted to give a voice to the Caribbean culture he felt was underrepresented in the industry. Drawing its name from the West Indian word meaning “a playboy” or someone who dresses fashionably, the collection captures the essence of the Caribbean with vibrant colored skirts, tailored suits, fanciful furs, and a nod to safari.

PARIS

Across the border, Paris exudes an aura of romance and refinement that transcends generations. As the birthplace of haute couture, the city is revered for its unparalleled craftsmanship and visionary design. However, Parisian fashion isn’t just about adhering to tradition; it’s about pushing boundaries and challenging conventions. Young designers flock to Paris, drawn by its reputation as a melting pot of creativity and innovation.

During Paris Fashion Week, the world’s fashion elite converge to witness the unveiling of groundbreaking collections by both established and emerging designers. This global stage provides young talents with a rare opportunity to showcase their work on an international platform, attracting attention from buyers, influencers, and press alike.

Here are a few of Paris’ emerging designers:

MAXHOSA AFRICA

Looks from Maxhosa Africa’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

South African designer Laduma Ngxokolo launched his Maxhosa Africa label in 2011 at the age of 24. The designer studied textile and pattern design in school before pursuing a degree in textile design and technology at Nelson Mandela University in his hometown of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He then received his 2-year master’s degree at London’s Central Saint Martins.

A Missoni fan, Ngxokolo viewed knitwear as the best medium to translate traditional beadwork. These techniques rely on networks of pixel-like units — a stitch or a bead — but the Italian brand’s artistic approach echoed the way he wanted to “apply our [Xhosa] art in an African-centric way,” he stated in a WWD interview.

While it’s important for Ngxokolo to preserve his cultural heritage, he is adamant that people approach the brand as a high-end fashion line, one that is “sacred on the celebration of culture.”  He believes that  “Culture is magnificent and therefore can be celebrated globally as much as people celebrate heritage. My culture is bold and extravagant but the point I wanted to prove is that culture can be fashionable, tasteful and worn on a daily basis — if done right.”

RENAISSANCE RENAISSANCE

Looks from Renaissance Renaissance’s fall 2024 collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

For designer Cynthia Merhej, her label Renaissance Renaissance is the story of renewal and keeping hope alive in the direst of  circumstances, as the name indicates.

Merhej grew up in the aftermath of Lebanon’s 30-year civil war, “everything was decimated and was just starting to be reconstructed,” the designer recalled to WWD. “A lot of what I learned about design, culture, art and so on came from a huge curiosity and desire to see what’s out there.”

Leaving Lebanon for London, the designer pursued visual communication and illustration courses at Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art. “But everything I was doing inevitably led back to fashion, my first love, [particularly] as the way I saw storytelling was always through clothes,” she said to WWD. After all, her mother, aunt, and great-grandmother all had ateliers of their own.

Merhej created her first collection in 2019, and in 2020 she was selected as part of Net-a-porter’s Vanguard program in 2020. The brand was on the way up when COVID-19 struck. To make matters worse, when she was back home in Beirut, the 2020 explosion at the city’s port happened, which left hundreds dead, thousands injured and scores without homes or livelihoods. “It was really like being stuck on a roller coaster and not knowing when it’s going to end,” she said to WWD. Yet she proceeded. Merhej opened an atelier for her brand Renaissance Renaissance in the Lebanese capital in 2022. The designer produces her collection in her homeland to foster creativity after all the trauma in her country.

Bringing her collections to Paris has already put Merhej’s work on fashionista radars. She was chosen to create the costumes for an upcoming adaptation of “Bonjour Tristesse,” the 1954 novel by French author Françoise Sagan, starring Chloë Sevigny.

JULIE KEGELS

A look from Julie Kegel’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“For me, it’s all about finding a balance between beauty and ugliness, seriousness and ridiculousness because while designing I just want to have fun,” Belgian designer Julie Kegels told WWD ahead of her debut collection. “I also want to feel a lot of emotions while also coming out of my comfort zone.”

Fashion design was a dream Kegels wanted since childhood, after all, her father worked in accessories and bags. She attended the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts’ prestigious fashion department, where she sharpened her skill under the wings of Walter Van Beirendonck and Dirk Van Saene. She’s also worked under Pieter Mulier at Alaïa.

Eventually, she launched her namesake brand Julie Kegels. “I always had in mind the desire to start something when the time was right, but I thought that if I waited too long, I’d be a bit afraid,” she said in an interview with WWD.

 

So, if you are an aspiring and/or an up-and-coming designer, we hope this blog post will give you some encouragement. Passion is everything. So are the right skills. That’s why the mission of the University of Fashion has always been “Learn fashion design, one step at a time”.

 

So, tell us, as an emerging designer which city would you want to unveil your brand?

 

 

Sign-up for our newsletter

Join our newsletter to receive updates on future blog posts, special deals, and new lessons. Also visit the main webpage to check out all of our video lessons.

Avatar photo

Antonia Sardone

Antonia Sardone is a new contributor to the University of Fashion. She is also a freelance fashion consultant, stylist and writer. Antonia Sardone graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in Advertising Communications, Marketing and Fashion Journalism. She is an industry veteran having worked for WWD for over fifteen years and has strong relationships with designers worldwide. Today, Antonia Sardone continues to write reviews for WWD as well as work with many contemporary designers on a variety of projects from helping to re-launch their websites to writing their brand books. She enjoys raising her children to be creative individuals, as well as styling, writing and traveling.