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Five Designers to Watch at This Round of Milan Fashion Week

·11 min read

Milan Fashion Week, marking the return to the physical format, will include presentations from a range of emerging brands. Here, WWD previews five to keep an eye on.

Cormio

Cormio founder and creative director Jezabelle Cormio - Credit: Courtesy of Cormio
Cormio founder and creative director Jezabelle Cormio - Credit: Courtesy of Cormio

Courtesy of Cormio

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“I think our aesthetic is bon-ton with a mean streak,” said Jezabelle Cormio, referring to her women’s wear brand Cormio, which she officially launched in September 2019 with the unveiling of the spring 2020 collection.

Born in 1990 in New York, Cormio, whose father is Italian and mother is American, grew up in Rome and after high school moved to Belgium to attend the Royal Academy of Antwerp, where she graduated in fashion design. In 2013, she caught the attention of Opening Ceremony’s cofounder Humberto Leon, who selected some pieces from her graduation collection to sell in the retailer’s stores worldwide. While working in-house and as a consultant as a women’s wear and print designer for several brands, she continued to do tiny capsules for Opening Ceremony. After launching her label in 2019, she was selected by Gucci as one of the designers to participate in the Gucci Fest, where she presented the “La Tassinara” short movie.

Currently based in Milan, the designer has made a name for herself with unconventional collections, twisting bourgeois elements, including Tyrolese motifs, through a techno, fearless spirit, at the intersection of cute and sexy.

Committed to exalting Italy’s manufacturing prowess, the designer collaborates with a range of suppliers to craft high-quality pieces made with sustainable yarns and up-cycled fabrics.

A look from Cormio spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Courtesy of Cormio
A look from Cormio spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Courtesy of Cormio

Courtesy of Cormio

“This summer collection came to me from different angles. Whilst doing research on some old women’s embroidery and knitting magazines from the ’50s and ’60s, I became sensitive to the creation of clothing and decor at the time; it made me think of how much time women dedicated to making their own clothes and pursuing the idea of the domestic goddess,” said Cormio, explaining the concept behind her spring 2022 collection. “The value we attach to women’s time has changed us and our economy and the consideration of it in terms of currency feels contemporary. This inspired the design of our spring 2022 prints: a patchwork of different stencils and instructions for embroidery, which would take a lifetime to finish.”

For the lineup, which will be presented inside an old-school haberdashery on Wednesday, she developed a knitwear interpretation of ’60s signature terry cloth. The brand’s signature knits this season are matched with denim pants and mini skirts, everything in a palette of lime green, hot pink and black — the colors that the designer mainly associates with her teenage years. — Alessandra Turra

ATXV

ATXV founder and creative director Antonio Tarantini. - Credit: Courtesy of ATXV
ATXV founder and creative director Antonio Tarantini. - Credit: Courtesy of ATXV

Courtesy of ATXV

After years spent working for several fashion houses, Antonio Tarantini took the decision to launch his own brand, ATXV, in order to respond to a personal need. “I had the urgency to feel free, to reinvent myself, to step out of my comfort zone,” the designer said.

Tarantini cut his teeth at Dolce & Gabbana, before landing at Christian Dior with John Galliano. “He is the one who taught me that nothing is impossible and that dreams must be pursued,” Tarantini said of the designer. He then moved to Versace, where he stayed eight years working for both the ready-to-wear and the Atelier haute-couture line, and at Emilio Pucci.

During the lockdown in November 2020, the designer started to conceive his own label with the goal of creating genderless collections of seasonless and durable pieces.

Using the skills he developed during his career, he focused on jersey, “but I wanted to use it in a way that would be completely different from what I used to know,” Tarantini said. In fact, after working for years with colorful, flamboyant brands, he decided to opt for a restrained palette of neutrals, with touches of pink and dark purple, letting the silhouettes shine.

A look from ATXV spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Courtesy of ATXV
A look from ATXV spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Courtesy of ATXV

Courtesy of ATXV

While last March he unveiled a first resort drop, during Milan Fashion Week he will present a full spring 2022 collection. Tops, bottoms and dresses are all crafted from sustainable jersey fabrics, which Tarantini twisted, torched and draped for styles that reveal cutouts and unexpected necklines.

“During the pandemic, we all experienced the feeling of being isolated and, as a consequence, this collection is a response to a renewed desire of human, physical contacts,” Tarantini explained. “It’s about the body and about how the clothes wrap and hug it. There is something very sensual about this collection.”

Positioned in the affordable luxury segment, the collection is distributed by Milan’s Riccardo Grassi showroom, with prices ranging from 350 euros up to 1,000 euros for dresses. — A.T.

Münn

Münn’s creative director Hyun-min Han. - Credit: Courtesy of Münn
Münn’s creative director Hyun-min Han. - Credit: Courtesy of Münn

Courtesy of Münn

South Korean designer Hyun-min Han didn’t discover his passion for fashion until he by chance came across fashion show videos of the late Lee Alexander McQueen, whose avant-garde concoctions spurred a sense of confidence that excited him.

After dropping out of his university course in communication design, he enrolled at the Samsung Art & Design Institute, graduating in fashion design, and launched the Münn label in 2013 based on principles that were dear to McQueen.

“The brand’s philosophy is about ‘defamiliarization,’” Han explained. “Through conceptual art, new pattern making, experimental sewing methods and material development, we are pursuing the aesthetics of unfamiliarity.”

Indeed, women’s bias-cut skirts crafted from the same terry cloth that hotel towels are made of, or tank tops for both genders made using key holders and chains look unfamiliar, if not off-kilter.

Münn RTW spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Münn
Münn RTW spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Münn

Courtesy of Münn

Han said that during the most recent summer vacations, with international travel banned, he found solace in the atmospheres of Luca Guadagnino’s films “I Am Love” and “A Bigger Splash,” which he translated into a collection filled with details that nod to summery resort destinations, hence the hotel theme.

The audacity of the offering is counterbalanced by the French-chic silhouettes, particularly for women’s wear, with tweed suits with short shorts and strong shouldered sartorial blazers. Men’s outfits veer more experimental with flared pants with side slits and bleached denim.

After showing in London for two seasons, he moved his presentations to Milan, recognizing the city’s stronger international exposure and he said this has also benefited him business-wise.

The brand is stocked at around 50 retailers across Europe and Asia with pieces retailing between $600 and $1,500. — Martino Carrera

Quira

Quira founder and creative director Veronica Leoni. - Credit: Valentin Hennequin/Courtesy of Quira
Quira founder and creative director Veronica Leoni. - Credit: Valentin Hennequin/Courtesy of Quira

Valentin Hennequin/Courtesy of Quira

“My grandma went by Quira, it was her family nickname. And to me Quira is the perfect way to measure the distance I walked so far, from the kid I was when this journey started to the woman I am now,” said Veronica Leoni introducing her solo brand, which debuts during at Milan Fashion Week.

Currently creative director of women’s wear at the Moncler 1952 line, Leoni is an experienced designer with a background that includes being head of knitwear at Jil Sander and head of pre-collection at Céline during Phoebe Philo’s tenure.

Her solo venture marks a new chapter in her career, enabling her to express her “personal form of elegance and balance” through an aesthetic that she defined as “pure and raw, audacious and spontaneous.”

“The instinct [of launching a brand] has always been there, over time it became an awareness. And when the opportunity happened it seemed the perfect thing to do, oddly at the right time: just a few days before COVID-19 hit Italy, at the end of February 2020,” recalled Leoni.

Yet the designer assured this new project won’t dim her enthusiasm for her post at Moncler, as the two aesthetics don’t overlap. “We are talking about very different approaches and needs. With Moncler, my creativity is applied to an existing and very precise DNA, while Quira is in my DNA. As a creative director, I do enjoy both quite a lot and there is basically no interference, just me and my pencil in common,” she assured.

For Quira’s seminal spring 2022 collection, Leoni said she gathered all her private memories and forbidden fantasies, delivering an ideal edit of wardrobe staples, ranging from “a memorable black jacket, the one I always looked for” to dresses with unexpected cutouts on the back and knits enriched with extra-light, three-dimensional effects, which demonstrate the skills she perfected at Jil Sander.

“In terms of techniques, I applied the most classic lesson I learnt in all my previous experiences, mixing sartorial tailoring with extreme draping,” teased Leoni, without revealing too many details about the rest of the collection, except from the constant mantra guiding her throughout the creative process, which was “find your essential extravaganza.”

A detail of a look from the Quira spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Camille Vivier/Courtesy of Quira
A detail of a look from the Quira spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Camille Vivier/Courtesy of Quira

Camille Vivier/Courtesy of Quira

The collection will be unveiled on Thursday in both physical and digital formats, with the former needed to enable guests “to breathe the brand” and the latter aimed at reaching out and creating a moment of connection with a wider audience.

To this end, the designer said she envisions Quira’s customers to be “conscious about style and quality, in search for timeless, mindful and unique items.”

“I imagine we may have some sort of common instinct toward the desire of bold, audacious items and neat and pure pieces,” she said, underscoring that her ultimate wish is to turn Quira into a new object of desire. — Sandra Salibian

Gentile Catone

Gentile Catone founders and creative directors Francesco Gentile and Chiara Catone. - Credit: Courtesy of Gentile Catone
Gentile Catone founders and creative directors Francesco Gentile and Chiara Catone. - Credit: Courtesy of Gentile Catone

Courtesy of Gentile Catone

Until four years ago, Francesco Gentile and Chiara Catone had little to do with fashion. Graduates in law and classics, respectively, the two talents behind the emerging women’s wear brand Gentile Catone had already started careers in their areas of study when they decided to question their choices and follow a more creative path.

“Maybe our fate was simply written in our DNA: Chiara’s grandfather was the commercial director of Necchi [a company that specializes in sewing machines] in the ’60s while [my] aunt had a tailoring business,” Gentile said.

The fashion venture enabled them to express their more flamboyant side, as the brand’s signature retro and romantic aesthetic is defined by a generous amount of prints, ruffles and bold colors splashed over feminine staples encompassing silk shirts, mini frocks and midi pleated skirts.

For spring 2022, Gentile and Catone looked at botanical motifs since during their creative process they were inspired by Emily Dickinson’s herbarium collecting that contained 424 species of flowers.

In sync with the bucolic reference, the designers also opted for airy silhouettes via dresses with flounces and frills on the sleeves and frocks crafted from eyelet fabric and embellished with delicate beads. To counterbalance these proportions, they included classic pencil skirts as well as fluid, long dresses and silk twill pajamas covered in bold floral prints and rendered in energizing shades of pink, fuchsia and tangerine.

A look from the Gentile Catone spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Courtesy of Gentile Catone
A look from the Gentile Catone spring 2022 collection. - Credit: Courtesy of Gentile Catone

Courtesy of Gentile Catone

“The biggest challenge of putting together this collection consisted in finding back the strength and energy to really start again after such a dark period as the one we hope we’re leaving behind. Fashion is a witness of the times, perhaps even more than other industries, and is affected by every change that occurs in society. So the main challenge was [to tune with] this change in progress,” Gentile said.

With prices ranging from 60 euros to 500 euros, Gentile Catone is available in about 30 doors, including Rinascente’s outposts in Milan and Rome and 17 international stockists across France, Austria, Germany, the U.S., Japan, China, South Korea and Vietnam.

The founders said their goal is to expand the brand’s retail network “especially in Asian countries and in the U.S., which are our markets of reference.” But their aim goes higher and beyond the distribution footprint, as Gentile revealed that the duo’s ultimate dream is “to see some of our dresses on an important stage, like the red carpet of the Met Gala.”

Until then, Milan’s central Hotel Senato will offer them the platform to introduce their new collection on Friday, which will mark the brand’s official debut at the local fashion week.

“Being on the official schedule is a source of pride and a great opportunity. You find yourself presenting your work with the big names of the world’s fashion system, which for a small brand means a lot of visibility, that is the essential fuel helping to stand out and propelling a journey of growth,” Catone said. — S.S.

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