Family is the soul of Italian fashion – but as brands are bought by big groups, or find themselves with no obvious generational followers, it becomes harder to keep it all in the homeland. With the passing of Karl Lagerfeld – creative director at Fendi for over half a century – and other fashion founders well into pensionable age, how are brands managing to keep their family values?

Fendi: Moving On

“I am feeling a bit nervous, because it is not easy to be after someone like him – but I feel that it is going to be different,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, referring to the first show she had designed on her own after what seemed like a fashion lifetime with Karl Lagerfeld, who died in February.

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“The first day is like an exam,” she continued. “But I have had a very beautiful life and I feel that this is part of it. I thought the best inspiration was my real love: a collection about a summer mood, which is the season when I feel liberated and happiest.

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“The colour palette is with pale yellows and pinks and sunset colours,” she continued. “There is very summery material like Lycra or terry cloth, chenille and cotton – and because today is a time when everyone is striving between the natural and the synthetic, there is also organic cotton.”

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These modest words could not have anticipated the sea change at Fendi. And “sea” was the appropriate word, as everything on the runway seemed to be destined for a holiday island, where the colours – plain, checked or floral – had the golden glow of a summer landscape.

Lagerfeld, who was notorious for saying that his idea of taking a vacation was to start the next collection, might have wondered at this display of upbeat beach clothes, but behind the initial surprise at thigh-high skirts revealing bronzed legs, he would immediately have understood the workmanship behind each outfit and the intriguing mix of high/low that he himself had invented.

Anyway, Karl is no longer with us. And Silvia was surely right to make this full swing to a world that embraced both a new look and modernity using fabrics and colours.

The only doubt in this generational change that is happening through the Milan fashion world, is whether the designer should have taken her thoughts to the past: the 1970s are still intriguing but an ever-increasing distance from the tail end of the second decade of the current millennium.

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But whatever the doubts that this might create in the future, in fashion, change is always good. And Fendi CEO Serge Brunschwig, part of the LVMH empire, certainly thought so.

“I feel good – I think there is a lot of talent in this family,” he said. “It was Karl too, of course. But the family have the spirit of moving on – and I am excited.”

What might have been a sad occasion, grieving over the loss of Lagerfeld, turned into a colourful and jolly parade.

“It’s something very new at Fendi,” Silvia said. “I think that it has to do with my love for gardening and – yes – for my optimistic point of view.”

M Missoni: A Fresh Feel From The Archives

Margherita Missoni, dressed with the colourful nonchalance that is in her family’s DNA, waved at the even more vivid shades on an old-style Milan tram and a team of dancers boarding it. Welcome to M Missoni!

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©Natasha Cowan

“When they offered me this job, I took some time to decide – because I am not interested in doing less expensive and less thought-out copies of Missoni,” she explained. “And then I understood: it had become ours – the collection wasn’t in licensing anymore. And the intention in repositioning is to give it its own identity.””I looked in the archives – but also in the interviews and memorabilia,” she added. “What hit me was how much wider the aesthetic of Missoni was when it first started out than when it really took off in the sixties and seventies. My idea was to give new life to the leftovers of Missoni’s history, whether it was the things like the stock of yarns or the fabric from Missoni’s home that I turned into coats.”

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©Natasha Cowan

There was a 1970s vibe to the mix-and-no-match patterns and a general feeling of freedom and fun from that era – without the depth of hand-work fundamental to the brand’s identity. But as a youthful and useful wardrobe, it was spot on.

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“This is a collection that wants to respond to people’s needs.” Margherita, 36, continued. “I want it to be very unpretentious. It is more about going back to the origin of Missoni when my grandparents started, they chose knitwear and jersey to make an outfit that could take you from morning to evening in an effortless but chic way – the origin of streetwear.

“I found an interview with my grandfather in the early eighties with this manifesto: ‘In the future, everyone will be wearing a tracksuit. It won’t matter if you’re going on a safari or to the office, the only thing that will matter will be wearing performing fabrics.'”

And what do the copious Missoni family think about it? At the oh-so-Italian help-yourself dinner, matriarch Rosita, 88, summed up her feelings.

“I loved it all, especially the tram ride,” she said.

Interpreting The Perfect Pucci Day

There seemed to be some confusion over who exactly is trying to steer the LVMH-owned Pucci brand in a clear direction. With Sidney Toledano, chairman and CEO of the LVMH fashion group saying he has put some structure into the company, while Laudomia Pucci, daughter of the founder Emilio, is still very much present.

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But it was Antonio Tarantini, a designer formerly at Versace, who took me around the three separate sets expressing “a perfect Pucci day” – dividing the categories into “active athleisure”, followed by “a lazy afternoon, relaxed and a little bit cocktail,” before moving on to a glamorous night.“The first moment is the newest because we were starting from Emilio’s ideas of invention,” said the designer, referring to the merge of new fabrics with the original and iconic “Vivara” print on a tracksuit “really speaking for 2020”.

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Tarantini explained that “in each section, we decided to re-interpret another really important item”. That went from the sport shirts to experiments with new materials and textures. Fresh too were new interpretations of the famous Pucci prints, including a watery effect.

“Another big thing at Pucci is the scarves,” said the designer. ”Pucci is like high level art and it is important to have this attention to detail.”, the inventor of flowing hand prints, now faces a torrent of low-priced digital patterns. The task of Laudomia Pucci and LVMH is to make quality appeal among the cheap and cheerful.