Sex appeal and star power help Milan designers vie for global attention at Milan Fashion Week

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Beware of those who remember Milan Fashion Week as a compendium of well-made, wearable clothes devoid of sex, drama or eye-catching editorial content. Glenn Martens slipped blown-glass sex toys into invites to his Diesel show — and that was just the curtain-raiser of the week.

Labels turned to reality TV, identical twin models, artist collaborations and a plethora of see-through looks on many catwalks as they moved to revitalize and compete for attention in a world of increasingly noisy fashion. Even Prada has gone from the highly intellectual celebrities of the past – architects and artists – to influencers such as Chiara Ferragni and her neck-tattooed Italian rock star husband Fedez, who sat front row at the show at the Fondazione Prada museum.

Alessandro Michele’s Spring/Summer 2023 Twinsburg show in Milan, which saw 68 pairs of twins and lookalikes.

Photo: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci

Tellingly, a litmus test of pandemic awareness suggests Covid is far from a priority in Milan. Bisous bisous returned to fashion week, starting with the left cheek as they do in Italy. It turns out that reports of the pandemic-related disappearance of the kiss on the cheeks were premature, as were promises that the collections would get smaller and more succinctly edited.

And those promises to reduce waste associated with fashion week? Also widely out the window. According to some people involved in the productions, construction materials such as walls, carpets and glass beads covering the tracks were all directed to landfills. As for the week’s carbon footprint, collections were often scheduled across the city from each other, leading to daily 30-minute runs through Milan. Editors, in desperation, dropped schedules that required impossible civic crossings, such as the 35-minute drive from 7 p.m. Bally to 8 p.m. Bottega Veneta on Saturday night.

This impossibly smart Bottega collection marked an evolution into ultra-luxury sportswear by opening up what looked like blue jeans, khaki pants and flannel shirts, but were actually intricately printed leather.

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