If you are an ardent follower of fashion, then you know that each fashion week city has its own personality. This year, the contrast between Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week was especially evident, as the former offered sexy and glamorous looks, while the latter went all in on avant-garde and experimentalism. Here are some of the differences (and similarities) between the two fashion cities for the Spring 2024 season.
MILAN FASHION WEEK SS24
Milan Fashion Week may be over, but the memory of stunning collections and star-studded front rows linger on. The six-day event, which ran from September 19th to September 25th, showcased some of the most influential and creative designers in the world. One of the main themes that emerged from MFW was a return to glamour, sensuality and sophistication, but…with a modern twist. Some of the highlights included:
THE NEW TOM FORD
Peter Hawkings, the British designer who replaced Tom Ford as the creative director of his namesake brand, made his debut with a collection that stayed true to Ford’s signature style of sleek minimalism and hedonistic elegance. The show featured velvet suits, silk blouses, leather coats, evening sandals and crystal-embellished dresses in a palette of black, white, red and metallics. Hawkings also added some playful touches, such as asymmetrical jackets, cropped tuxedos and satin knickers, worn over pantyhose. The collection was a tribute to Ford’s legacy and a statement of Hawkings’ own vision for the future of Tom Ford. Some might even call Hawkings, Ford’s mini-me.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Sabato De Sarno, the former Valentino designer who took over as Gucci’s creative director after Alessandro Michele’s departure, also made his first appearance on the Milan runway with a collection that aimed to make people fall in love with Gucci again. De Sarno focused on fluidity, lightness, and freedom, creating dresses in sheer fabrics that contrasted with tailored suits and coats in Gucci’s iconic materials. He also introduced a new “it color”, Gucci Rosso, a deep oxblood hue that evoked a sense of retro sophistication. The collection was a celebration of Gucci’s heritage and a reflection of De Sarno’s personal style.
YOU’VE BEEN SLIMED
Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons continued their Prada collaboration with a collection that explored the concept of craft and technique. The show was set in a space filled with slime that dripped from the ceiling, creating a contrast between the organic and the artificial. The clothes were equally juxtaposed, mixing formal silhouettes with floaty fabrics, printed fringe with floral patterns, and metallic accessories with delicate materials. The collection also featured some nods to Prada’s past, such as Peter Pan collars, glossy trenches and hand-carved bag clasps that reproduced a design from 1913. The collection was a demonstration of Prada’s innovation and excellence.
THE ART OF SEDUCTION
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, the design duo behind Dolce & Gabbana, delivered a collection that was all about seduction and glamour. The show was filled with corset dresses, tulle slips, lingerie sets, barn jackets and flapper dresses in satin, velvet, leather and lace. The colors were rich and vibrant, ranging from black and white to red, pink, purple and gold. The accessories were equally eye-catching, featuring crystal embellishments, metal fringe and vintage baubles. The collection was a tribute to Dolce & Gabbana’s signature aesthetic and a celebration of femininity.
Versace is one of the world’s most iconic and influential fashion houses, known for its bold, sexy and glamorous style. For Spring 2024, the House paid tribute to its founder Gianni Versace and his legendary designs from the early ’90s. The collection was inspired by the autumn 1995 Versace and spring 1995 Atelier Versace collections, which were marked by a ladylike elegance and sophistication.
One of the highlights of the show was the return of Claudia Schiffer to the runway, who modeled for Versace in the ’90s and became one of fashion’s original supermodels. Schiffer wore a pale-yellow lace embroidered metal mesh slipdress that evoked the sensuality and glamour of Versace’s signature material. The collection also reflected the current trends of the season, such as short and shorter shorts and skirts, checkerboard prints, pastel colors and flat ballerina shoes. Versace also updated its classic Medusa-patterned silks into boxer short and shirt sets for men and women, adding a touch of playfulness and comfort to the collection.
Fendi celebrated its Roman roots and its contemporary vision for Spring 2024. Kim Jones, the artistic director for couture and womenswear, said he was inspired by Rome and the women who live there. “In Rome, there is an elegance in ease and not caring what anybody else thinks—that is real luxury. In this collection, I wanted to reflect that,” Jones wrote in the show notes.
The show featured models wearing fluid dresses, tailored suits, knitwear separates and leather coats in a palette of black, white, red, yellow and blue. The collection also featured some references to Fendi’s past, such as the double-F logo, the puzzle print and the metal mesh fabric. The collection was influenced by Karl Lagerfeld’s spring 1999 show for the house and his minimalist approach.
A FASHION INDUSTRY FIRST!
The closing of Moschino’s Spring 2024 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)
Up until now we thought we had seen all the ‘firsts’ there were to see in the fashion industry, e.g., Black and ethic models appearing on magazine covers and racial & ethnic diversity, size inclusivity, the physically handicapped and transgender models on the runway. We witnessed high-end designers like Karl Lagerfeld collaborating with H&M and other famous designer collaborations with Target. Then came the ‘designer for the designer’ trend, John Galiano at Maison Margiela and Raf Simmons at Jil Sander, followed by the ‘guest designer’ phenomenon, such as Simone Rocha for Jean Paul Gaultier Couture and Colm Dillane for Louis Vuitton. And of course the ‘celebrity’ creative director craze, the most recent being Pharrell Williams at Louis Vuitton and Balmain x Beyoncé.
The Moschino brand has always been the industry’s most playful fashion house, known for its witty, colorful and irreverent style. After founder Franco Moschino’s death in 1994, Rossella Jardini took the helm, followed by Jeremy Scott who, for ten years, elevated the brand’s status. With the exit of Scott in March 2023, everyone wondered who would replace him, especially since this year marks the brand’s 40th anniversary. Well, enter the era of ‘guest stylist”.
Every fashionista knows that the role of ‘stylist’ has been given a big boost, thanks in part to the first ever CFDA “Stylist of the Year” award that went to Law Roach in 2022. So, in a bold first move for the fashion industry, the Moschino brand invited four prominent stylists to reinterpret its archive to create the Spring 2024 Moschino collection. Whether the brand couldn’t get it together to hire a new creative director in time for their Spring 2024 season or…perhaps it’s a signal that stylists are now the new act in town. Whatever the reason, the house reached out to four stylists who paid tribute to the late Franco Moschino and his legacy of satire, subversion and joy. Stylists Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, Katie Grand, Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, and Lucia Liu each created 10 looks that reflected their own personal style and injected some of Moschino’s signature elements.
The finale of the show featured 40 models wearing T-shirts with Moschino’s logo, and raised funds for the Elton John AIDS Foundation in memory of Franco Moschino who died from AIDS in 1994.
PARIS FASHION WEEK
Paris Fashion Week, which ran from Sep 25th to Oct 3rd is the grand finale of fashion month. This year the Parisian runways were full of surprises, as many designers experimented with avant-garde concepts, materials, and silhouettes, challenging the conventional notions of beauty and style. Here are some of the highlights from the Paris Fashion Week Spring 2024.
A BALL OF FUN
Rei Kawakubo, the founder and creative director of Comme des Garçons, is one of the pioneers of avant-garde fashion, and her latest collection was no exception. Overcome by the state of the world today, and the feeling of gloom and doom, Rei Kawakubo’s counterintuitive reaction was to roll out a collection filled with huge balls of fun.
For Spring 2024, Kawakubo showed off her playful side with multi-colored, bubbly fabric sculptured looks. Patterns ranged from neon graphics to Hawaiian hibiscus prints. The collection was a stunning display of Kawakubo’s artistic vision and craftsmanship.
FINDING THE LIGHT
Rick Owens is another designer who is known for his avant-garde and edgy style, often inspired by subcultures and dystopian themes. But for Spring 2024, Owens showed his softer side by playing with colors ranging from deep reds and mauve-ish pinks. It was a refreshing take on Owens’ usual goth-like aesthetic.
Looks ranged from peak-shouldered shrunken leather motorcycle jackets to billowing parachute like capes. Owens also featured plenty of slim, long skirts with ultra-high waists, as well as circular pouf dresses which were oh so whimsical.
THE GREAT TRANSFORMER
Maison Margiela is one of the most avant-garde and influential fashion houses in the world, known for its deconstructed and reconstructed garments, often playing with the notions of identity and anonymity. Its spring 2024 collection was a daring exploration of dualities and transformation, creating a stunning visual impact and a profound emotional expression. The collection was designed by John Galliano, who is also the creative director of the house, and who is widely regarded as one of the most original and visionary designers of our time.
Galliano is a master of playing with the juxtaposition of vintage inspired pieces, such as bodices, linings, and petticoats and deconstructing them up to create his beloved avant-garde looks.
REMIXING THE CODES
Yohji Yamamoto is another one of the pioneers of avant-garde fashion, and his latest collection was no exception. The designer has been creating his experimental fashions for over 40 years and recently stated in an interview with Vogue that “he hates looking back to his own work.”
For Spring 2024 Yamamoto looks to the great designers of the past for inspiration, citing Chanel, Givenchy, and Balenciaga. He said he wanted to examine and remix their codes in his distinct way. Looks ranged from restrained black dresses over white shirts to deconstructed frocks. Yamamoto’s collection was entirely in black with a pop of white sprinkled throughout. But the darkness showcased Yamamoto’s creations brilliantly, as looks were layered with pleats and tucks creating origami-like volume that was a stunning display of Yamamoto’s artistic vision and craftsmanship.
SARAH BURTON TAKES HER FINAL BOW
The house of Alexander McQueen has always been known for its innovative and futuristic designs, often pushing the boundaries of fashion and technology. Its spring 2024 show was creative director Sarah Burton’s final collection for the house. “This collection is inspired by female anatomy, Queen Elizabeth I, the blood red rose, and Magdalena Abakanowicz, a transgressive and powerful artist who refused ever to compromise her vision,” she wrote in the press statement. “The show is dedicated to Lee Alexander McQueen, whose wish was always to empower women, and to the passion, talent, and loyalty of my team.”
Burton also paid tribute to Britain and the national flower of England, the red rose. The flower motif made its mark on several dresses. The creative director was also inspired by textile sculptures of Abakanowicz, a feminist artist from Poland, whose forms suggest the embrace of motherhood, vaginas, comfort, and protection.
From armored leather corsetry to gowns that celebrated the female body, the collection was a remarkable demonstration of Burton’s vision and skill. We are all wondering what Burton will do next. Stay tuned.
So, tell us, do your creations lean on the side of sultry and seductive, or do they lean towards avant-garde?