As I mentioned in the article about my favorite looks from MFW Spring / Summer 2023, today’s Throwback Thursday is dedicated to my experience at Milan Fashion Week over the years.
My father has been working as a fashion agent and showroom manager since the early 1990s; his first showrooms were in Milano Fiera and the Tortona District. He then went on to work for the Italian brand Via delle Perle and opened a new showroom in Via Montenapoleone (Quadrilatero della Moda, which is basically the Fashion District).
I have always been fascinated by his work and I followed his path, as I am now a fashion consultant and marketing manager for our company (aside from doing some freelance photography work).
I was about thirteen years old when I started attending fashion week in Milan; it was during the September edition in 2008, when fashion week wasn’t even called so. Everyone referred to it as “Milano Vende Moda”, which means “Milan Sells Fashion” in Italian, and it took place in the Milano Fiera District (Via Gattamelata), where all the major fashion shows and events were organized; this went on until 2010, when fashion shows began to take place all around the city. Like today, fashion week was convened and sponsored by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion (Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana) and it attracted numerous people from the international fashion industry.
I grew up with fashion thanks to my father’s job and looking at my mother, who’s always had a French style, for fashion advice; anyway, when you’re a teenager you generally feel the need to discover your own fashion tastes, so for me it was all about experimenting. I won’t post pictures of my first fashion week outfit because it was taken at home before going out, so the light was all wrong (I was wearing low-waist pants, a bare midriff top and a big white D&G belt, an outfit that was highly influenced by early 2000s fashion), but I enjoy looking at that picture today and seeing how my style and sense of fashion has evolved over the years.
In September 2008 I had the chance to attend my first fashion shows with Samuelle Daves, a late friend of my father’s and one of his closest collaborators back in the day. Samuelle was also one of the editors at BOOK Moda Magazine and he was my first mentor; he was hard-working, sensitive and intelligent and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities he gave me when I was still very young. He used to introduce me to people as his “junior fashion editor” and even sent me to some shows he couldn’t attend because he was busy working at the magazine.
Was fashion week different back then? From my point of view, EVERYTHING was different; we are talking about another era. In 2008 there was no Instagram, Facebook had just been founded and fashion bloggers or influencers didn’t even exist; smartphones were used mainly for emails and work (remember the good, old Blackberry?) and the iPhone was just entering the global market. The audience at fashion shows consisted of buyers or other people from the industry (with only a few reality TV guests); I was one of the very few members of the audience who took pictures during fashion shows because only professional photographers did that. However, it was definitely less hectic than it is today.
The first fashion show I have ever seen live was Agatha Ruiz de la Prada S/S 2009, followed by Massimo Rebecchi and Love Sex Money by Lorella Signorino. I also went to a very crowded Mila Schön event in Piazza del Duomo. The following year I was still attending shows with Samuelle, who took me to see Roccobarocco S/S 2010; it was all about Made in Italy, very colorful and elaborate. I also had the chance to attend Laura Biagiotti S/S 2010, where I took a photo of the designer with her daughter Lavinia at the end of the show.
Those days were all about rushing from one place to another, trying Japanese cuisine and meeting fashion professionals. We used to take taxis or CNMI shuttles reserved to buyers; Samuelle was carrying around a very beautiful Ferragamo brown bag, which I still remember to this day because it was amazingly crafted and the quality was excellent.
During those years I also went to a couple of shows organized by Valeria Marini, an Italian showgirl who had created a brand called Diamonds Seduction and was promoting her line with my father’s showroom. I also went to another Roccobarocco fashion show with one of our clients in 2010; by then I was in high school so I did not have much time to attend shows because I was focusing on my studies.
I began working at our showroom about three years later, but I was very busy with the sales campaign (I call this “working behind the scenes”) and fashion shows were starting to be available for streaming on the Internet so I was following my favorite brands from afar. I also spent some time abroad during those years because I was in New York and London most of the time, so watching the shows in streaming was the best option for me.
Fast forward to 2017 and that’s when I went back to attending fashion week, this time as an adult; I was working with Valentino Odorico, one of our freelance collaborators, as his personal assistant, taking pictures and shooting videos at fashion shows and editing them for social media (so different from how I had experienced fashion week earlier in my life, before the era of social media). It was a very exciting time because not only did I get to attend fashion shows but also I had the opportunity to visit various showrooms and go to a few cocktail parties.
I was there for the February edition and I went to see Anteprima, Byblos, Au Jour Le Jour, Mila Schön and D.Exterior. I was also among the guests at the fashion show organized by graduating students at Haute Future Fashion Academy, where Valentino used to teach.
Later that year, I attended Men’s Fashion Week for the very first time, getting to see a preview of the Etro collection at their Milan showroom and Cifonelli presenting their men collection in the Fashion District. I have good memories of Christian Pellizzari and Damir Doma’s fashion shows and also of presentations at Church’s and Eleventy. These events were taking place all day long, so it was a bit exhausting but also very interesting; I was happy and grateful to discover new brands and also getting to see a designer’s work in advance. One of the highlights of that week was attending the Munsoo Kwon fashion show supported by Giorgio Armani at Teatro Armani, a really amazing location.
I got to attend other fashion events over the years, up until the beginning of 2020, when the pandemic hit; as you all know, it was a very tough time for fashion and for the world in general. We really struggled with making things work because it was such an unprecedented time; things have been getting better ever since, but I have yet to return to fully experiencing Milan Fashion Week. I have done a lot of work behind the scenes so far, and I hope I’ll be able to be there in the not-too-distant future because the atmosphere at some of the shows is always magical and inspiring.
Thank you to the late Samuelle Daves, my mentor, my friend and a wonderful person.
Thank you to Valentino Odorico and his entourage for being the greatest fashion week comrades; lunch time with you at Armani was the best.
Thank you to Michael Gostner for the pictures he took during fashion week (what an amazing job at capturing the perfect moments!).
All other pictures are my own.
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