Milan’s prominent position on the international fashion calendar can be credited to its array of seminal fashion houses. As members of a younger generation of designers bring their talents to the table, the task of establishing themselves globally alongside previous generations arises. One way of cementing the relations between young and old, globally renowned and up-and-coming, is with design collaborations. For autumn/winter 2017/18, some of the city’s most exciting designers have formed creative partnerships, while elsewhere established brands provide significant support to young talent, resulting in exciting collections all round.
Colmar x Au Jour Le Jour
For Giulio Colombo, CEO of Italian outerwear brand Colmar, collaborations with young designers push the boundaries of the heritage house’s design. This season’s partnership with Au Jour Le Jour, part of the Vogue Talents project, digs into the Colmar archives, while introducing the innovation of its younger collaborators; designers Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez, who founded Au Jour Le Jour in 2010, have brought their signature colour and fabric treatment to the Colmar capsule collection. Colombo says that collaborations of this kind ‘can best represent and tell the story of the two identities of the brand, the one made up of technology and maximum know-how in sportswear and the other distinguished by an innovative spirit that can bring a gust of fresh irony into reinterpreting volumes or colours.’
Au Jour Le Jour is known for playing with witty microprints, and for this capsule collection the designers ‘reworked the patches dear to Colmar, or included maxi and micro lettering which nods at the modern mania for logos,’ says Colombo. He explains that the Colmar archives served as a starting point for the young designers, who drew, for example, on jackets worn by previous Italian ski teams. ‘When AJLJ saw our archives, the idea of how to merge Colmar heritage and practicality and their style was clear. Diego and Mirko slipped perfectly into the history of Colmar.’
MSGM x Diadora
Elsewhere, successful Milan designer Massimo Giorgetti decided to incorporate Diadora into his menswear catwalk show for MSGM, bringing Diadora branded trainers, tracksuit bottoms, shorts, sweatshirts and T-shirts to his collection – all with a touch of 1990s athleisure aesthetic. After all, athletic apparel has long since lost its purely functional purposes. Diadora was founded in 1948 as an artisanal hiking boot company; delving into its rich archives, the collaboration rekindles ready-to-wear’s fascination with sportswear, bringing a unique combination of logos and technical fabrics together on the runway.
The Swarovski Collective x Vivetta
The Swarovski Collective was founded in 1999 as a result of Nadja Swarovski, Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen’s joint desire to support young designers, and over 150 designers have since collaborated with the Swarovski brand. The designers are set the task of working with the house’s crystals, and receive a year of support from Swarovski. Vivetta, founded in Milan by Vivetta Ponti in 2009, combines whimsical retro references with bold colours and prints. Working with the Swarovski elements, Ponti took inspiration from the joyous, eccentric atmosphere of vintage circus for autumn/winter 2017/18. ‘Vintage, surrealist atmospheres have always attracted me so this inspiration came to me very naturally,’ she explains. Vivetta brought a full crystal-studded two-piece look to the catwalk at Milan Fashion Week.
The Swarovski Collective x Arthur Arbesser
Vienna-born designer Arthur Arbesser also showed at Milan Fashion Week under the Swarovski Collective umbrella. Arbesser’s sleek tailoring and sophisticated fabrics were an immediate success when he presented his first collection at Milan Fashion Week in 2013. This season he was inspired by the Wim Wenders film Wings of Desire; military-like uniforms were given sparkling pinstripes with tiny heat-transferred crystals. ‘Almost the whole movie is shot in black and white, so I purposely wanted to push a very strong colour palette,’ he explains. ‘I imagined that the sombre black and white movie is in reality hiding mad colours and graphics from the viewer.’ Working with Swarovski for a second season presents Arbesser with the possibility of exploring ‘the incredible know-how, expertise and quality of a product like Swarovski. On the other side, you put a modern, new spin on the product by using it in a unique and personal way.’
It’s specifically this personal element of collaborations that enriches the designs: as Giulio Colombo says, this is more than simply ‘the sum of two parts’. It brings about something greater and more innovative. What better than an outsider’s take on your brand to inject extra vitality? And it certainly tells us a thing or two about the importance of not always walking alone.