Milan’s Youthquake

It was a balmy late-September evening and Kat and Edward were drinking wine on his balcony and discussing fashion.

Milan Fashion Week was over and Paris was in full swing. However Kat was still abuzz about London. She hadn’t been particularly inspired by the big Italian shows.  Boring, but for one or two. If Milan shows were the big movie blockbusters, then London’s were the low budget Indies, and this time the indies ruled. But with Tom Ford and Burberry returned to the London catwalks, she believed it was destined to become a fashion superpower again after having been wrongly overlooked in recent years. She would always be loyal to London. There was a rebelliousness in its street fashion that she couldn’t find in Milan.

Kat misses seeing the London Look on the streets

Kat misses seeing the London Look on the streets


London streets inspire Kat in a way that Milan’s cannot













But Milan offered one encouraging new development. Finally the old houses were looking to the young designers. Paris had been installing young upstarts in their opulent and historic couture houses for a decade but not Milan. Usually Italy’s founding designers helmed their houses until they croaked it and then it was kept in the family.

“Giorgio Armani’s going to live forever so no openings there,” said Edward. “Moschino just raided its archives for their thirtieth anniversary show. Again, no need for us. Does anyone truly believe Dolce & Gabbana will be sent to jail? No––”

“And all the cocaine in Columbia couldn’t tumble Donatella,” added Kat.

“Ooh, don’t, I love her,” gushed Edward. “I want to be her when I grow up.”

That was just it, thought Kat. What will we be when we grow up..?

“Can you believe Marco Zanini is taking over the house of Schiaparelli? It’s incredible.” A new sense of possibility flitted in the air between them. They both shook their heads in awe.

One of Kat's favourite Schiaparelli designs from 1937

One of Kat’s favourite Schiaparelli designs from 1937

Marco was a regular in their favourite club, Plastic. Just one of them, really, but a few years older. Now he had been picked to be responsible for the iconic fashion house that had been closed since the fifties but whose eccentric Surrealist inspired fashions had always inspired Kat. He had hit the big time. Lucky devil.

“Do you think he will still dance on a cube to The Smiths once a week?” mused Edward.

“I hope so. That new job will probably be stressful all the same. He’ll have to let off steam.” They sat in silence.

Then Kat dared to say it. “That could be one of us, one day, Edward.”

“I can’t think why not.” Edward looked across at her for confirmation. She nodded enthusiastically over her wine glass.

But why not, indeed? It was a sign of the times. And there were other signs. Giorgio Armani had lent his hallowed catwalk to a young, previously unknown designer , Stella Jean. Her West African printed textiles, clashing colours and glorious eccentricity were unlike anything that had ever been seen in Armani’s Teatro before.  Kat had marked that show as one of her favorites.  Even Iceberg, a company that, in Kat’s opinion, hadn’t had a pulse since the 80’s had brought in 28-year old, Alexis Martial to try to be cool again. Fausto Puglisi, who had risen out of nowhere after only a few seasons, was rumoured to be the new designer behind dormant French house, Ungaro.

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014

Stella Jean Spring/Summer 2014

Alexis Martial for Iceberg

Alexis Martial for Iceberg












And she had read only that morning that LVMH, fairy godfather of all independent brands, who had just popped her fellow Irishman JW Anderson like a cherry on top of Spanish company Loewe, had bought a large stake in London shoe designer, Nicholas Kirkwood’s, company. All arrows pointed to a youth invasion. This was their time. Italian fashion is ripe for a youthful revolt, she thought, giddily. And we are ripe for the picking.

“Of course, Nicolas Kirkwood trained under Philip Treacy, genius hatmaker and, yes, another Irishman,” she concluded triumphantly. “So you say you wanna get ahead? Stick with me, kid; your future will be rosy.”

They knocked their glasses together and sang out across the canal: “Salute!”



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