Time for a Milan moment
September has always meant one thing: fashion month. And when it comes to the highlight of the regular catwalk schedule, that privilege has always sat with Milan: the fashion capital of the world. So how did it earn its reputation? Take a look through our timeline…
With a stellar reputation for producing luxury goods, the city of Mediolanum changes its name to Milan, inspired by the English word ‘milaner’ meaning ‘fine wares’. A portentous moment of self-awareness, as centuries of even greater excellence are to come.
Milan is a thriving economic hub, known for creating sumptuous and superior fabrics. Paris influences Milanese fashion, but the Italians corner a notable focus on meticulous artisanal workmanship. They have a smouldering Latin passion... for tailoring.
The Bocconi brothers open Italy’s first department store (later to become the famous Rinascente), revolutionising the way luxury goods are sold to the wider public. Everyone in Milan is suddenly better dressed and encouraged to invest in accessible but beautifully made pieces.
Milan in in the throes of a full-blown love affair with silks and textiles. Internationally recognised as the European centre for eye-watering quality.
Milan hosts its first fashion week. Anna Wintour is yet to be excited about this because she is only nine. But she will be.
Missoni is not invited back to showcase its collections in Florence (Italy’s slightly po-faced catwalk capital at the time) following a scandalous runway show in which the lights accidentally revealed that the models weren’t wearing knickers. The brand holds its show in Milan instead, to such huge critical acclaim that other designers follow suit.
Milan’s reputation for relevant, workable fashion continues to gather momentum – and is, crucially, more affordable than Paris and Florence. Milan provides a training ground for young photographers like Oliviero Toscani to become fashion photographers and campaign creatives, and therefore critical players in the industry.
The big textile companies start eyeing up unknowns to create designs using their fabrics. These include ‘the three Gs’ – Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani and Gianfranco Ferré. Turns out the Milanese are VERY good at spotting talent.
Giorgio Armani launches his eponymous label with his first collection. Greatness beckons.
Gianni Versace opens his first boutique and almost instantly becomes a sensation. Gianfranco Ferré shows his first women’s collection the same year. The Milanese feel quite rightly extremely pleased with themselves for being so good at this.
Versace’s autumn/winter show closes at the Fiera Milano exhibition hall with Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista and Naomi Campbell all walking down the runway together to George Michael’s ‘Freedom’. It goes down as an almost biblical moment in fashion history and is widely recognised as the birth of the supermodel. Everyone starts scrambling around to find $10,000 just to get them out of bed.
Milan is officially named the fashion capital of the world.
Milan is now home to some of the biggest names in fashion, all of whom choose the city as their base. Dolce & Gabbana, Armani, Bottega Veneta, Etro, Missoni, Miu Miu, Moschino, Prada, Valentino and Versace to name a few, most of whom can be found today on the Quadrilatero d’Oro. A district of excellence for the most revered names in the industry.
Five of Italy’s most important fashion institutes are in Milan, helping nurture and develop the geniuses of the future. Milan continues to attract the very best in the business. Including Fidenza Village.
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