In the fashion world September means one thing, fashion week, and the spring/summer collections are about to walk down runways in cities across the globe. In New York there is fashion week and as a design student I’m far from oblivious to it, but this fashion week in Milan was really the first time I felt like I was involved in the process and not just another spectator. Our first academic trip this year was to Milan during as you might have guessed fashion week. Yet because this was an academic trip it afforded us additional opportunities. We could see things that on our own we would have never had access to.
It started with our arrival in Milan, first stop the Duomo. Personally this was one of my favorite parts of the trip, the building its self has such remarkable detail one can’t help but be awe inspired. The Duomo in Milan stands out though more than just because of its size, it’s the 3rd largest church in Europe and took 800 years to build, but because unlike other Italian churches it’s a gothic cathedral, more like Notre Dame than say the Duomo in Florence. One of the characteristics of a gothic cathedral is the amount of detail that goes into the structure, it is covered in statues and carvings that create little hidden surprises that you can find as you turn each corner. We got to take a roof tour we gave us a remarkable opportunity to see not only the building up close but afforded us a spectacular view of the square below.
Next we went to Vogue’s who’s next, an exhibition of sorts that show cases up and coming designers and their work. What was interesting about this is that the ideas that these designers are presenting are a new point of view, which is why I like that more attention is being given to these remarkably talented people. After that we went to Corso Como 10, a unique gem that’s a cross between a department store and charming boutique. In many ways it seems like this fairy tale that’s hidden in this busy metropolis, from the outside all you see is an arch way with a sign overhead but walk through and your transported into someplace completely different. There’s a little courtyard cafe that’s surrounded by greenery that you walk through to enter the store. The colors are simple mostly black and white with greys here and there and the occasional pop of color, mostly due to the clothes, and with décor that gives it a sense of airy whimsy. Because it is a concept store you’re going to see things here that you would elsewhere, yet that is what makes it so fabulous.
The next day featured what was the favorite stop for many, the Dolce and Gabbana factory. As a design major this visit was actually extremely insightful. It exposed us to what happens after you create your design going from ‘oh this is a cool idea’ to it being sold in a store. There are a deceptively large amount of steps to the process. We saw how they created the patterns for each garment and worked of the fabric layout to ensure the least amount of waste possible, to the people who checked all of the fabric that came through for imperfections or those who created all of the sample and runway garments. In the afternoon we went to the White trade show, which consisted of different companies and designers who were each presenting what they thought the future of fashion, might be. So not next spring, but the spring after, each designer had their own take on different upcoming trends.
Our last day of the trip took place not in Milan but in Como, known in the fashion industry for its textile production and printing. We got the chance to visit the Ratti factory and archives. The Ratti factory is one of the better-known factories producing fabrics for the likes of Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce and Gabbana, and Valentino. What is so amazing about the Ratti factory is that they do everything there in house, they take the threads weave them into fabric and then print them using multiple different methods. At the archives they were featuring an exhibit on Emilio Pucci, who had had a lot of his fabrics printed by Ratti in the 1950’s. When they went back through their archives they found they had several examples of his prints, with original sketches and test prints along with swatches of the final fabrics. We were also shown some of the textiles that they have in their archives, some dating back to the Renaissance, each one we were shown had it’s own kind of artistry to it. I saw so many amazing things on this trip it has only made me want to go out and see so much more.