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Courtesy of Prada

A one-stop guide to everything going down at Milan Fashion Week

From Fendi to Prada and Blumarine to Bottega Veneta, we round up the best in show from the AW23 womenswear collections

We’re less than three months into the year and the whiplash of the AW23 season has so far yanked editors from Milan and Paris for the menswear collections, to New York, London, and Milan (again) for the accompanying womenswear shows. Yesterday, Diesel opened the current edition of Milan Fashion Week with a behemoth pile of Durex condoms for its sleaze-ridden ode to safer sex before passing the baton to Fendi and Prada. And then there’s Blumarine, Moschino, Gucci, Cormio, Ferragamo, and Bottega Veneta, all of whom have yet to debut their offerings. Stay with us as we round up the best in show from Milan’s AW23 collections, and keep an eye on Dazed’s Instagram and TikTok accounts for all the breaking news and weird moments bound to surface.


On the first day of Milan Fashion Week, Donatella Versace sat front row at the Fendi show, illuminated by intergalactic beams in a behemoth space tunnel. Backstage, Kim Jones spoke about creating menswear for women, presenting double-collared jackets, backless waistcoats, pleated kilts, and Mackintosh coats. The inspiration for AW23 came from Delfina Delettrez Fendi (a fourth-generation descendant of the Fendi house who leads the brand’s jewellery imprint) with Jones plucking from all subtle the quirks that accent her wardrobe. Trousers were buckled at the crotch, skirts were worn over sensible trousers, heels were made high and transparent, while pale blues and browns riffed on the heiress’ old school uniform. Jones also saw this collection as a way to harmonise Fendi’s ready-to-wear and haute couture lines, showcasing caped satin dresses, sequin-lined outwear, and lingerie-embedded shirting (all of which had been adapted from the brand’s Roman atelier). 


Fashion week invites have become increasingly silly over recent seasons (glass-blown butt plugs, smashed iPhones, rubber bananas) but ahead of its AW23 show, Prada did the opposite, giving each one of its guests a weighty tome dedicated to Greco-Roman antiquities. Perhaps Miuccia and Raf are just fed up with everyone complaining about fashion’s lean into viral fodder and thought: ‘Fine! If you’re so bored of going on your phone and seeing something FUN on the newsfeed, then please read this incredibly long and factually-dense text.’ That thinking began to crystalise when Roxy Music’s “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” played overhead, speaking to the hollow promise of luxury consumption. The designers’ archaeological (and perhaps anti-modern) bent surfaced in safari shirts, safari capes with 3D chest pockets, and safari parka dresses, while lab shirts were worn with longline skirts, and hard-shelled handbags called to mind old-school briefcases. 


Strewn with the charred husks of a tree trunk, Daniel Delcore staged his AW23 show in a sparse exhibition room in the bowels of the Triennale museum. The collection – Embers Bloom – was “an exploration of new mutating forms emerging from the ashes,” which the designer translated into shapeshifting eveningwear, with garments lengthening and shortening with the use of adjustable hook fastenings. Everything was long and slender and black and white with curvaceous fishtail shoulders and hip-high leather boots. Inspired by his travels to the Gates of the Arctic in Alaska, Del Core embroidered puffer jackets, suiting, and bulb-waisted cocktail dresses with rust-hued lichens and sun-burst moss, emblematic of the Xantharia Parietina fungus which blanket rock pools and tree bark. 


For the past couple of seasons, fashion has been hitching itself on an unkempt, slightly gloomy character: hair tousled in grease, eyes smeared with kohl, clothes frayed and layered on top of each other with an air of nihilism. At MM6 Maison Margiela, models wore oversized hoodies under sloping knitwear, their scarves and shirts swinging over wide-legged jeans. They wore bicep bracelets, bandeau-bras scribbled with ink-splodged lettering, and trick-of-the-eye denim-effect leather. Broad-shouldered blazers were slashed in half, aprons were embedded onto nude-illusion turtle necks, and the waistbands on old-fashioned boxers were deliberately hoicked into view. It was dark and moody, twisted and deceptive. 


Backdropped by a burning Blumarine effigy, Niccola Brognano doused his AW23 collection in gasoline. He showed leather shearling hot pants, beefed-up blazers, and metallic bodycons with flailing one-sided trains that evoked Joan of Arc… had she not been a peasant girl acting under divine guidance in the 1400s, but the star of an expensive music video some 600 years later. Styled by Lotta Volkova, the whole thing moved Blumarine’s fascination with the saucy (but sexless) Y2K era further towards grunge. Mini dresses weres still trimmed in babetastic ruffles, but then came studded dog collars, buckled corsets, and harnessed knickerbockers in acid-wash denim. All of this was in service to attitude: knife-point stilettos, kidney-bean handbags, thumbs tucked into thick and low-slung belts. 


Last season, Guiliano Calza went to Bikini Bottom, grabbed Spongebob from his pineapple home and used his body as nipple pasties. For AW23, the GCDS designer turned his attention to Sailor Moon, plonking a massive, animatronic version of Luna P at the beginning of his catwalk. Her bulging eyes watched over all the leopard-print mini dresses, clawed platform boots, and zoot suits that emerged on the runway with an incongruous, all-at-once approach. Fuzzy tweed had been fashioned into baby-pink overcoats, canary yellow columns, and jet-black tennis skirts studded with rhinestones. Elsewhere, wide-legged trousers were hoicked to the ribcage and leather skirts slashed to the groin, almost always worn with bustiers, semi-transparent shirts and thickset ties.