Skip to main content
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Milan Tries to Make Sense of the World

Bottega Veneta’s Matthieu Blazy finds hope in resilience, the Meiers swathe Jil Sander in security and Giorgio Armani goes back to nature, writes Tim Blanks.
Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2024
Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2024 (Daniele Oberrauch)

MILAN — Matthieu Blazy imagined the set of his latest presentation for Bottega Veneta as a burned landscape, with huge blooming cacti sculpted from Murano glass representing the resilience of life and beauty in a living hell.

“When there is nothing left, you try to make something out of yourself,” Blazy said after the show. “Dressing brings us dignity, makes us human.” That veiled comment on the current state of the world inspired a huge collection that Blazy intended as an elevation of the everyday. What people do to get by. “There was something beautiful in the idea of making it monumental.”

And yet it wasn’t scale that stood out so much as directness and simplicity. In his three years at Bottega, Blazy has made a name for himself as an alchemist, spurring the brand’s remarkable ateliers on to feats of transformative ingenuity. Here, he insisted the aim was reduction. No flannel shirt made from leather this time. Nothing — or no one — pretending to be something they’re not. Instead, cotton was cotton, leather was leather. There was no embellishment, less technique. “Reduction, but to the maximum,” said Blazy. One gorgeous effect was achieved with nothing more than fabric on a dress or skirt bunched and buttoned. The plissé pleating of a pale yellow top opened into flares of sunset orange. A t-shirt dress burst phoenix-like into a ball of fiery red fringe. Outerwear was stripped of detail but it was emphatic in its silhouettes, with oversized, rounded sleeves. Blazy dropped a broad-shouldered sweater to mid-calf. That was reductio ad elegantia.

“Elegance is resilience,” he insisted. His equally elegant version of a classic trench had storm flaps which anticipated a hurricane.


One particularly beautiful bias-cut dress featured a dense scribble print which was actually a composite of thousands of passport stamps. Blazy called it a “memory” print. In the show, it was followed by an outfit woven with fine stripes, like the lines in a notebook. The idea of writing suggested hope for the future to the designer, “what can still be written.” I know he intended resilience, but it was also a reminder of what’s been lost to the all-consuming flames. That was the constant subtext — fire, ash, carbon black — that loaned a meditative melancholy to the show. So much we know, so little we can do. And yet people continue, burned to the ground, springing back to beautiful life, stronger than ever. Blazy’s hope.

Bottega Veneta Autumn/Winter 2024

Once, you could have reasonably attached a state of meditative melancholy to Lucie and Luke Meier’s revisioning of Jil Sander, but, as Lucie said on Friday, they’ve grown bolder with the years. “Cleaner and more colourful,” she added when she was asked to describe the new collection. And there was Mariacarla Boscono as proof, opening the show in a vermilion red suit with a raglan shoulder, bold, precise, definitely colourful.

Like any thinking people this season, the Meiers have been attempting to reconcile their work and the world. Luke talked about the feeling of being surrounded, immersed in something, and that was the sense they wanted to get across. Mk.gee, a musician they love, played live during the show, enveloping the audience in sound. Many of the models wore black skullcaps which encased their heads. And then the clothes themselves wrapped bodies in an over-abundance of quilted fabric, like protective blankets.

The show took place in a space described as a capsule. It underscored a sci-fi tinge in the Meiers’ work which was only stronger with their latest collection. The stately volumes, the quilted capes and full-sleeved tunics worked as the wardrobe of an intergalactic aristocracy. The metal fringing which shimmered round necklines and down side seams added a space cowboy flourish. Those odd black skullcaps suggested Vulcans, the shaggy slippers called to our inner Wookie. (The Meiers weren’t the only designers in Milan to propose the Wookie foot for Winter ‘24.) For terrestrials, the new emphasis on sleeker tailoring held much more promise.

Jil Sander Autumn/Winter 2024

If Matthieu Blazy and the Meiers were in their own ways responding to the future, Giorgio Armani headed in the other direction, back to his roots. It wouldn’t be surprising if he’s been brooding on the past. In December, his Silos exhibition space opened an exhibition dedicated to the work of Aldo Fallai, the photographer who was responsible for sealing the Armani aesthetic for posterity in the ad campaigns he shot during the seventies and eighties. Gina de Bernardo, the model who dominated those campaigns, was first on the catwalk on Monday morning.

Roots mean nature, and Armani went back to the garden with a floral-saturated show that opened in the dusky golden hour (even though it was actually morning outside) before shading into twilight and eventually darkest night. A look composed of a cargo pant in washed velvet, with a floral almost-dressing gown, a wide-brimmed embroidered hat and floral slippers had a suggestion of the eccentricity that is Armani’s not so guilty pleasure. When the soundtrack cooed “anything you can imagine”, you could imagine that there isn’t much that hasn’t crossed Armani’s mind in his half-century in fashion. But the parade of familiar silhouettes, touchable textures and tones took on an edge of magic realism as night fell. Lustrous jewel-toned duchesse, black velvet sparkling with a swarm of dragonflies, flowers turning luminous, like deep sea creatures, can occasionally seem like incongruities in the grand scheme of sensible Armani things. But they’re as much the man as any of the revolutionary looks that are celebrated in Aldo Fallai’s images.

Giorgio Armani Autumn/Winter 2024

© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Fashion Week
Independent show reviews from fashion’s top critics.

What I Learned From Fashion Month

From where aspirational customers are spending to Kering’s challenges and Richemont’s fashion revival, BoF’s editor-in-chief shares key takeaways from conversations with industry insiders in London, Milan and Paris.

view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
The Business of Beauty Global Awards - Deadline 30 April 2024
© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
The Business of Beauty Global Awards - Deadline 30 April 2024