Up Close With: Dolce and Gabbana

Dolce and Gabbana’s meteoric rise to fame and success speaks volumes about their unique style and in-your-face designs. In the past five years, the company has doubled its revenues through aggresive marketing and styling. The duo has produced incredible, eye-catching ads that have been so aggressive that they were often banned from publication.


December 11, 2008 at 2:15 am Leave a comment

Up Close With: Versace

Versace is one of the most exclusive brands in the marketplace today and it shows. From the moment you enter a store to your exit, the air of exclusivity and refinement never fades.

There are several lines which make up Versace Group. They are: Gianni Versace Couture, Versace Jeans Couture, Versace Home Collection, Versus and Versace Collection. In addition to clothing and accessories, it also operates a hotel, the Palazzo Versace.

Gianni Versace Couture, which contains high-end, often handmade apparel, jewelery, watches, fragrances, cosmetics and home furnishings, is the House’s main line. Traditionally, this is the only line presented on the runway which is shown during Milan’s fashion week, but this has not been strictly the case in recent years. Couture dresses in this line may cost about $10,000 and suits cost approximately $5,000. Donatella Versace directly heads this line and designs a vast amount of the items. Many of the accessories and home furnishings are licensed through Rosenthal and other notable companies. Most of these have the unique Versace Greek print of Medusa and/or the Greek Key motif. Atelier Versace was a haute-couture line which was discontinued soon after its inception due to lack of sales and a fall in couture marketability.

Versace Collection and Versace Jeans Couture are licenced diffusion lines. These clothing lines incorporate elements of the signature Gianni Versace line, while focusing on current seasonal trends. Often these lines are created and produced via other designer companies, which are in constant communication with the Versace Group. Versace Collection is aimed at a younger audience than the main lines and it is also more available to a variety of economic demographics.


December 7, 2008 at 1:44 am Leave a comment

Up Close With: Prada

Italy’s second most valuable brand, Prada, brings clout that few fashion companies or brands for that matter have. The incredible scale of its marketing and advertising campaigns has helped tremendously in leading its growth. The Prada store, much like many other high-end boutiques was strategically designed to keep window shoppers who step-in at arm’s length. On the main level, you can only peruse a small selection of accessories and bags while the stairs lead to a haven of all things Prada. However, the clean, white decor seems to be a step down from the other designers who splurged at every opportunity.

Here’s another Prada location in the Galleria:

December 2, 2008 at 1:05 am Leave a comment

Up Close With: Armani

Armani has long been a name synonymous with high fashion and it looks like it’s here to stay.  Recently ranked as the 4th most valuable Italian brand with a market value of more than 2.7 billion dollars, the design house is clearly much more. The Armani shopping experience in Milan truly takes the shopper on a journey. From the stark design concept marked with subdued white lighting to the jet black that characterizes the store, the design is an (enjoyable) attack on the senses. This video and Armani’s taste for black and white in clothing could help explain that:


November 28, 2008 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

Up Close With: Gucci

Gucci’s recently opened flagship store is prominently located on a corner encompassing over 15,000 square feet, making it the largest store in Gucci’s portfolio. The Milan store represents a shift in design from the stark minimalism that defined Gucci in the 1990’s and the early part of the millenium. Today, we can see a few of the key design concepts holding strong, but the overall feel is much softer and and laid back. The geometric lighting is still present, along with black lacquer panelling. This however, is also undergoing change as the paneling has been divided with the use of woods. Natural touches have been used to create a more livable feeling. The use of light woods in the casing and animal skin wrapping the seating resembles a strong divergence from the Gucci of the past.



November 24, 2008 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment

Up Close With: Milan’s Powerhouses

Over the course of this semester I have been to and will continue to visit the fashion houses that have come to become icons of Milan. My goal in the coming entries is to provide you with information regarding the background of these companies enlightened by my personal experiences as a shopper.

Here’s a look at the most popular shopping destinations in Milan:

First things first, shopping in any of the designer outlets you find in Milan, or anywhere for that matter, is an experience in and of itself. You enter a world completely removed from the one you just stepped out of. Doormen open the doors to an oasis of design and security guards are placed conspicuously close to the door in case someone was to make a bad decision.

Beyond the doors, a plethora of staff are on hand to cater to your every need and help with the ever-important decision making as you shop. A key aspect of shopping at such stores is the level of service and expertise you will find from the assistants who become personal shoppers on loan from the store. The differentiating factors between the brands are the prestige, presentation, product lines.

November 21, 2008 at 6:09 pm Leave a comment

Changing Gears:

Now that we’ve covered the fashion show and taken a step back to gain some perspective on Milan’s place in fashion, we are going to change gears a bit and cover some fashion houses. In the coming entries, we will take a look at several of the major fashion houses including Gucci, Armani, Prada, Versace and more through interviews, videos, and selected products.

– Binoy

November 17, 2008 at 4:47 pm Leave a comment

Milan and Paris: The Beacons Guiding Fashion

The age-old argument as to which city is tops in fashion is not going to go away or be resolved anytime soon. While it’s here, why don’t we take a look at it? Many argue that Milan is all about the commercial aesthetics while Paris provides the creativity in its shows.

Here is Time’s take of one particular fashion season and an analysis on who won out:

When it comes to high fashion, only two cities matter. Twice a year the fashion houses in Paris and Milan compete for press attention, bragging rights and the dollars of store buyers around the world. Though the lines between the two capitals have blurred — Karl Lagerfeld and Tom Ford design for houses in both cities; French label Yves Saint Laurent is now run by the Italian Gucci Group, which is owned by the French company PPR — arguing about which city puts on the best shows remains a favorite parlor game of the fashion set. For the last 10 years, Milan has been winning, as Italian houses like Prada and Gucci came up with collections that rocked their Parisian rivals. But Paris came roaring back as the place to launch new talent from around the world — the star collections there are now produced by designers from Japan (Junya Watanabe), Belgium (Véronique Branquinho) and Britain (Alexander McQueen).

The two cities squared off again in the fall collections that ended in Paris last week. They battled for dominion over most of the emerging trends that will sustain the industry in the coming months: new reinterpretations of staid 1950s and futuristic 1960s looks; geometric designs in black and white; and the very timely military look. So who won the latest bout? Here’s one judge’s scorecard.

1950s In the biggest trend for fall, Milan reigned supreme. Miuccia Prada went back to that prim and proper decade with boatneck coats and dresses, pencil skirts and crocodile bags and gloves. But her coats were made of men’s fabrics and her gloves were oversized and fit for gardening — forcing everyone to rethink what ladylike means. Stella McCartney tried the same idea at her Paris show, but with all of the sugar and none of the spice.

Futurism At Lagerfeld’s Fendi show in Milan, he offered a futuristic look that might have been too much for Barbarella herself. Thigh-high boots and hot pants in slick, shiny fabrics were good for a giggle, but nothing a grown woman would actually wear. But in Paris, the touches of futurism in his collection for Chanel were more subtle. Tweed jackets came with geometric beading; black leather leggings gave a thigh-high boot effect without the boot. With a vision of luxury first, sexy space-cadet second, Karl in Paris beat Karl in Milan.

Black and white In Milan, Dolce & Gabbana used Op-Art patterns on skin-tight dresses. But the look worked better in Paris, where the checkerboard pattern on McQueen’s suits showed off the well-cut tailoring on which he’s made his name.

Military How many ways can designers approach officer chic? Plenty. At Gucci in Milan, the military trench coat was sexy — with a high collar, corseted waist and satin finish. In Paris, Branquinho’s belted wool coat with cape-like sleeves was more subtle, but equally strong — so call that one a draw. Final score: Paris 2, Milan 1, and one tie. Milan demands a rematch.

November 13, 2008 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment

Milan As A Fashion Capital

Quick word association: Milan

What do you think of? Chances are, fashion is one of the first things to come to mind when you think of Milan. It wasn’t always this way, and Milan as a city has worked hard to keep itself trendy.

Milan initially prospered as a well-positioned outpost on the prolific trading routes through the Alps and over the Po plains. Over time, Milan established itself as a major industrial hub and melting pot of ideas, especially along the lines of design and the arts. Milan’s emergence as a fashion capital can be best traced to the 1980’s, when a flood of motivated designers set up shop in Milan attracted by the emergence of fashion shows.

Here is Fashion Encyclopedia’s take on Milan’s rise to the heights of fashion:

A northern, industrial Italian city with little of the allure of Rome or Florence, Italy, Milan was home to a number of ambitious textile producers and clothing designers. In the late 1970s they began staging fashion shows in Milan to promote Italian designers. Representatives from upscale American department stores began flocking to the city to place large orders from the collections of up-and-coming new talents like Giorgio Armani (c. 1934–), Laura Biagiotti (1943–), Gianfranco Ferre (1944–), and Gianni Versace (1946–1997). Foreign journalists admired the new Italian styles as well.

Milan’s runways presented a new style that caught on everywhere: though its shows were sometimes a bit theatrical and over-the-top, the models exuded a modern, athletic silhouette, or shape, that fit in perfectly with the era. The clothes, however, were the real appeal: they were simple, sexy, well made from an array of luxurious fabrics, and sold well. Within ten years of launching his company in 1975 with a man-tailored suit that became a must-have for an entire generation of fashionable women, Armani proved Milan’s biggest success. For many years Armani’s main rival was Ferre, and later Versace. Other top names in the Milan scene were Biagiotti, the Krizia label, and Missoni; the Fendi family of Rome even began staging their runway shows in Milan.

In the 1980s the Milan shows grew more extravagant and Armani was often hailed as the king of Milan. In the 1990s new names joined the roster of shows held at two hotels near one another, the Principe and the Palace, including Dolce and Gabbana, Prada—a venerable luggage firm reshaped by the founder’s design-conscious heir, Miuccia Prada—and the once-scorned house of Gucci, revitalized by American designer Tom Ford.

November 9, 2008 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

A Step Back and A Look Beyond: Milan and Fashion

We find ourselves finished breaking down the components of a fashion show with a fresh understanding of the in’s and out’s of fashion’s most elaborate window displays. Where to from here? I’d like to take an in-depth look at some of the fashion houses themselves and learn about their beginnings and current positions in the market.

First, I would like to take a glance at why Milan has become the heart of fashion as we know it. When was it decided that Milan was a must-see destination for a shopper? How did the designers corner the high-end market?

Next, we will analyze the differences between Paris and Milan’s respective styles and the features that distinguish the two.

November 6, 2008 at 4:37 pm Leave a comment

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