From the Quadrilatero d’Oro to the Corso Venezia, we might not be meandering the most famous fashion avenues this season but Milan style is the elegant way to dress for autumn and winter, and beyond, wherever you may be or however you may be adapting to the post-lockdown world we now live in.
Milanese fashion has long been renowned for tactile knitwear, leather separates, chic streetwear and the classic simple cut little black dress.
This year, those staples have been accessorised by lace facemasks and remnants of fabric from past seasons to reflect the world’s changing priorities. Glitz and glamour have become subdued in the era of social distancing and stay-at-home wardrobe reimagining.
How Milan became one of the fashion capitals of the world
Milan remains a reference point for fashion design. Every city in Italy has its own distinct identity and culture. And every region has long had its own traditions of crafts, fabrics and luxury goods.
Italian fashion as a movement has its roots in the Renaissance, where fashion icons of the time included Catherine de’ Medici, the scheming Florentine poisoner who became queen of France and was responsible for bringing us high heels, fancy knickers and corsets.
And it was actually Florence that initially emerged as the trendsetting heart of Italy. It wasn’t until the 1960s and 70s that designers like Georgio Armani and Gianni Versace established Milan as a major centre for the textiles industry.
Milan Fashion Week
When the Milan Fashion Week was established in 1958, the northern Italian city was gradually becoming the place for design talent.
In an industrial region with strong manufacturing and logistics links, the exploding popularity of ready-to-wear fashion along with Italian-esque elegance entering the movies established Milano as the capital of couture.
The launch of Vogue Italia in the 1960s, which headquartered itself in the Piazzale Cadorna, was timely and the publication quickly became the most influential sartorial serial in the world.
As the 20th Century came to an end, the rise of the Malino set, including Moschino, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada combined with the Supermodel explosion led by Versace meant the runways of the Milan Fashion Week were now the wildest and most extravagant standout in the clothing calendar.
Trends from Milan for autumn & winter 2020/21
Fast forward to the fall of 2020 and the wrap-up months ahead. The new year is already beckoning and we know what will be on-trend for the cooler climes as the autumn/winter collections were unveiled in Milan right on the cusp of the COVID 19 crisis back in the spring.
Fringing and flouncy with a hint of understated sweetness. Terra cotta, tan, and toffee were the tonal shades on display. And with a nod to the cautious world we now live in, loungy, slouchy styles were also in abundance to hint at the home-styling, zoom meeting, necessities which have shifted fashion trends so swiftly.
Minimalist maxi-dresses, puffed-style sleeves and wearable volume were very much on display. The boutiques are unlikely to be bouncing with party frocks this festive period but we saw enough shimmer to suggest sequins will be in for the socially distanced mixes and minglers out there.
For the streetwear stylers, cosy knits, oversized shapes, satin skirts and leather outers are very much to be seen in. Lingerie detailing and boudoir beckoning bodice styles will bring in the dark nights.
Looking ahead to 2021 with Milan’s emerging trends
There may be more dark days ahead but eventually, the evenings will grow longer and optimism will return. Inclusivity, Black Lives Matter and sustainability continue to influence the big design houses.
The spring/summer collections which have just debuted in Milan brought a hint of hope to colouring. Cotton candy shades, simple colour combos and a not so subtle continued nod to the extravagance of the 1980s were all on display. Clashing prints are in vogue as are geometric layerings. Stay-at-home fashion statements continue and extend as far as straightforward lingerie and underwear for most of us who will continue to live much of life from within indoors for a time to come.
One thing is certain, Milan has set the trend of fashion for well over half a century and will continue to do so. Even more so in these strangest of times.