MILAN – Kim Kardashian took Milan by storm on Saturday, curating a new collection for Dolce&Gabbana that took inspiration from 20 years of archival looks.
It was a day of debuts in Milan, including Maximilian Davis, a 27-yeaer-old British designer with Afro-Caribbean roots, at the creative helm of Salvatore Ferragamo and Filipino American designer Rhuigi Villasenor at Bally, as the brand returns to the runway for the first time in 20 years.
Some highlights from the fourth day of Milan Fashion Week previews of mostly womenswear for next spring and summer:
KIM KARDASHIAN AND DOLCE & GABBANA: THE BACKSTORY
Kim Kardashian’s love of Dolce & Gabbana goes way back, and the affection showed in her curation of their latest collection, drawing on archival looks from 1987-2007.
She remembers growing up watching her mother dress in Dolce & Gabbana for date nights with her stepfather, recalling “she always looked so smart and so strong.” One year, Kardashian's borrowed one of her mom’s black Dolce & Gabbana dresses with a built-in bra and choker to wear for a family Christmas card, a look, she said, “I will never forget."
When Kardashian and her sisters owned a store, she borrowed her father’s credit card to buy a bunch of D&G dresses, jeans and belts before her paycheck came in.
Even the family dogs were named Dolce and Gabbana. Gabbana was a black labrador, Dolce a tiny chihuahua.
“It is very close to reality,’’ Stefano Gabbana quipped in a presentation for the new collection.
But no matter how hard she tried, even deploying her mother, Kris Jenner, to help make her case, the designers refused to open their archives. “The past is the past,’’ Domenico Dolce explained. “We try to go ahead with the new generation.”
That is, until Kardashian proved she had the right stuff.
When Kourtney Kardashian married Travis Barker in Italy, social media swarmed with the vintage Dolce & Gabbana dresses she and her sisters wore. They were all from Kim Kardashian’s private collection, which she accrued with the help of a book of more than 100 desired Dolce & Gabbana looks she and her stylist compiled years before.
“Everything looked insane. It was so fun,’’ Kardashian said of the wedding looks. “I think (the designers) were surprised I came with all my own stuff and I had been collecting it for years.”
Dolce said the wedding photos persuaded them to dig into the archives, and he approached Kardashian about the project.
“We were afraid that the vintages dresses would look old. Instead, they were still contemporary,’’ Dolce said.
And so the new Spring-Summer 2023 collection was born, with the designers selecting looks from the past that they loved, many with memories attached working with models like Linda Evangelista and Monica Bellucci. Kardashian curated from there.
“After all these years, this is all of the stuff we would wear today,’’ Kardashian said. “As a designer, I would just think that is so cool, to see everyone trying to emulate the looks. And why not do a full collection, obviously with some new pieces in there, but just reimagined in a way that we would wear it today, which is so similar to how it was shot and worn back then.”
HASHTAG CIAO,KIM AT DOLCE & GABBANA
Designers Dolce and Gabbana presented their Spring-Summer 2023 collection curated by Kim Kardashian against the backdrop of a film showing Kardashian, styled as a starlet, sensually eating a plate of pasta.
And indeed, Kardashian’s curation showed her full embrace of Dolce & Gabbana’s Italian roots.
“You just don’t take shit from anyone when you are here and wearing Dolce & Gabbana,’’ Kardashian told reporters. “You feel powerful, and strong and sexy at the same time.”
Lingerie strongly inspired the collection. There were corsets, incorporated bras and bodysuits, employing all of the designer’s best tricks, from rigid bones for structural elements, to pretty lace and eye-catching crystals. They were worn with gartered stockings and long gloves, or under beautiful wraps.
Kardashian adhered to a mostly neutral palette: black, gray and beige, with some burgundy. And she the drew the line at prints, completely rejecting the brand’s fruits and florals, causing Gabbana to lament: “She killed me. I said ‘Noooo!’”
But she went all in on the leopard.
“I would say the boys brought out the leopard in me,’’ Kardashian said. “I think you will see that for me, color is the crystals.’’
The collection was designed with women of all ages and shapes in mind, Kardashian said, with the goal of simplifying designs to help some of the more ornate pieces feel less intimidating.
“If you simplify it, more people can feel confident wearing it. And I think we really achieved that in the show,” she said.
Kardashian’s mom, three of her children and sister Khloe sat in the front row. Proud mamma Kris Jenner filming the entire show on her phone.
JIL SANDER’S TRANQUILITY
Jil Sander created a tranquil island in Milan’s chaotic fashion week, filling a temporary show space in a distant field with a thicket of wildflowers and grasses, along with soothing pastels and forgiving silhouettes.
The collection lends itself to easy layering and defies all gender stereotypes. Creative directors Lucie and Luke Maier continued to dabble in embellishments, adding sequins, feathers and metallic accents to the brand’s minimalist silhouette.
Sleeveless suiting worked across genders, and men wore long pastel kilts with button-down shirts. Knitwear was distressed, with rough edges and slits, in both tops and dresses. The designers chose a single print, featuring blurry points of light.
Models carried umbrellas to protect the looks from the seasonal rainfall -- inconvenient for an outdoor show but welcome in Italy after months of drought.
FERRAGAMO’S NEW DAWN
Maximilian Davis created a vermillion red background for his Salvatore Ferragamo debut in the courtyard of a 17th century baroque and neoclassical palace — all the better to highlight the fashion house’s new direction.
The 27-year-old British designer worked strong silhouettes and simple elements, like tank tops and leggings, or full-on bodysuits, all the better to highlight the bag of the season, oversized cutout bags in highly polished leather with a canvas interior. Dresses were slinky in solid colors or flowing chiffon in degradé prints; a red trouser and skin-tight top combo popped with crystals. Strappy sandals featured a distinctive circular heel.
The male silhouette was challenged with an off-shoulder, sheer ombre dyed top, the colors an homage to the California sunset. Davis tapped Ferragamo’s leather heritage with boyishly short leather shorts paired with a leather blazer. Any male divo can make a red-carpet entrance with a silver sheer off-shoulder top that flows dramatically into a trailing scarf.
Models trod across red sand that covered the entire courtyard, a reference to Ferragamo’s Hollywood origins near the California beaches, and Davis’ own Caribbean heritage.
The sea and the sand mean for him "a place where you can go to reflect, and feel at one,’’ he said. "I wanted to show that perspective, but now through the Ferragamo lens.”
Super model Naomi Campbell turned out for the debut.
Filippino American designer Rhuigi Villasenor, best known for his U.S. streetwear brand, is seeking to drive a transition at the storied Swiss brand Bally, founded in 1851.
His debut collection paid tribute to the brand’s heritage of quiet elegance, while introducing an edge. A plunging V-neck swimsuit was worn with snakeskin boots, while a long beaded skirt featured a waist-high slit and was paired casually with a denim top. For him, a flashy reptile leather jacket was worn with a mesh top and jeans, but there was also a dark blue double-breasted suit for more formal business occasions.
Villasenor said he was inspired by “the brand’s codes around art, graphic design, architecture and nature.”
BOTTEGA VENETA’S TROMP L’OEUIEL
To the uninitiated, Kate Moss looked downright dressed down on the Bottega Veneta runway, in a pair of loose jeans and a plaid shirt. But that is the genius of designer Matthieu Blazy, who replayed a trick from his first season, showing leather pants that replicate the look of jeans.
Every piece in Blazy’s sophomore collection was strong: from the intarsia knitwear that have ice blue and red vying for the starring role, to the leather shift dresses and jackets with unexpected folds, to the shredded leather skirts and dresses, and sheer dresses embellished with velvety floral appliques.
At Bottega Veneta, leather is king. Bags include beautifully crafted fishing bags that fit neatly on the body, either in flat leather or a basket weave, to bucket-bags worn flung over the shoulder.
Blazy collaborated with Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce on the sculptural resin runway and 400 unique chairs, some with hand drawings, used for guests at the show and destined for Design Miami.