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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.