Identity Crisis. Missoni + Etro SS23

There’s this tricky thing about Italian brands that used to be family-owned. Once a new designer, who never worked with that family, takes over the steers, a hard identity crisis begins for good. This Milan Fashion Week, on the same day, there were two such debuts: Filippo Grazioli at Missoni and Marco De Vincenzo at Etro. Both delivered highly uninventive collections that were strangled with some familiar style codes of the brands, but lacking any fresh perspective of what these two idiosyncratic Italian houses could be in 2022. Grazioli’s take on Missoni felt like yet another failed attempt of the brand to rejuvenate itself since the family no longer does the creative direction. The designer, who cut his teeth at Givenchy and Hermès in the past, offered a tight palate-cleanser collection which was a very plain interpretation of Missoni’s timeless zig zag and fiammato patterns. Most of the looks orbited between sleek minimalism and uninspired, 1960s retro. It would d be interesting to see Grazioli playing with the house’s codes with a freer, more daring approach, expanding his creative reach. Because if you are planning to design just good clothes, then don’t even bother – or at least, don’t show during fashion week. A range of similar problems appeared on Etro’s runway. De Vincenzo is a well-known designer in Milan, but when I heard the news of his appointment, I scratched my head. Etro’s most recognizable repertoire – the eternal paisley pattern, the fringed gypsy look, the romantic sweeping gowns – was nowhere to be seen in his debut. “I don’t really like fluid fabrications; I like structure and compact materials,” De Vincenzo explained. “I’m not really familiar with the boho world. It doesn’t mean that in the future I cannot interpret it my way, but for now I’ve been given this position to express my point of view. That’s why I’m here.” I really don’t understand his mission then. There’s no need for Etro to be something else than Etro. And definitely not a bunch of shallow designs, featuring lazy-looking dresses and silly crop-tops. The collection tried hard to appeal to a younger audience, but I guess it was forgotten by that very same audience the minute the show ended. Missoni and Etro are brands that truly deserve better. Either their new creative directors quickly find balance between their personal aesthetics and the houses’ style ethos, or they will simply fall into oblivion, just like many other Italian brands that never could find their way again without their charismatic founders (and their descendants).

Missoni spring-summer 2023:

Etro spring-summer 2023:

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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Summer. Missoni SS21

Missoni‘s spring-summer 2021 look-book warms me mentally on this cold, rainy November day. “Summer, come back”, it seems to say. While other designers switch to loungewear with lockdown on their minds, for Angela Missoni it comes much more natural. “For us, comfort has always been at the foundation of our style,” she told Vogue via Zoom. “Knitwear is indeed the most malleable, versatile medium to convey a feel of ease. So there’s nothing new for us – we haven’t changed our perspective.” Discussing her new collection, she elaborated, “Since my parents established our house in the ’50s, our collections have never been elaborate or over-designed. Nevertheless, this season I went for even more simplicity and clarity. It came as a spontaneous feel. We are designers and not sociologists; our creativity is what drives us. Although these times call for a heightened sense of responsibility and more engagement on social issues, women – myself included – still desire to be feminine and to express a certain sensuality, even when confined at home.” The lineup pivoted around an elongated and slightly ’90s silhouette, popularised by Jacquemus in the last few collections – think tube tops or midriff-baring mini cardigans; slender body-hugging midi-skirts with sexy thigh-high slits; and straight-cut thin-strapped slip dresses baring the back. Missoni’s typical 3D textures were smoothed and simplified, with plays of horizontal intarsias contrasting the verticality of the lines, a touch of Lurex and fishnet-knitted sequins adding luminosity and sparkle. Missoni paired every outfit with T-strap stilettos, casually wrapped around the ankle with printed foulards. “I’ve found myself looking at high heels in my wardrobe with a feel of longing,” she said. “I can’t wait to wear them again when all this will hopefully be over.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.