Retailers Praise Luxury, Innovative Fall 2023 Looks in Milan – WWD

Bravo, Milan!

That was the universal consensus of buyers rating Milan Fashion Week, where the sophisticated and luxurious looks presented for fall — underpinned by stellar collections seen at Prada and Bottega Veneta — had retailers searching for superlatives.

“Milan provided everything a woman would need to create the perfect foundational wardrobe to lift her spirits,” said Rickie De Sole, women’s fashion director at Nordstrom. “The idea of an elevated wardrobe that’s easy to live in but gives you an extra boost and feeling of poise. Tailored clothes that embrace the body stood out with a renewed focus on the waist, sharp shoulder lines and elongating silhouettes. There wasn’t a show without at least one prodigious coat that would entice someone to stash away their big black utility puffer in return for a more romantic, smart — Italian take on outerwear. Red continues to be an important pop color for fall along with vibrant yellows and industrial grays.”

RELATED: Back to Tailoring Roots: Women’s Suits Shine at Milan Fashion Week

Key trends included precision tailoring; mini or midi skirts; novelty shearling and faux fur; maxi coats; strong shoulders and boxy jackets; nipped hourglass silhouettes, and footwear veered toward slimmer and kitten heels.

Fendi, Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana were also cited by retailers, and sophomore collections by Maximilian Davis at Ferragamo, Filippo Grazioli at Missoni and Rhuigi Villaseñor at Bally were seen as more convincing than their debuts. Fausto Puglisi is helping to rejuvenate the Roberto Cavalli brand.

“Milan Fashion Week can be summed up by four words: sophisticated, chic, elevated and authentic,” said Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director at Saks. “There is an overall realness to the lineup of fashion that we saw. The next generation of designers at these iconic fashion houses are ushering in a new era of authentic and accessible fashion, with inspiring looks that can go straight from the runways and directly onto the Saks customer. That’s great fashion.”

Here is what retailers said about the season:

Bosse Myhr, director of menswear and womenswear at Selfridges

Favorite collection: Bottega Veneta — Matthieu Blazy’s collection wonderfully combining men’s and women’s wardrobe into a medley of most beautiful style and craftsmanship, making the collection one of our favorites this season. MM6 — a real stand out collection, men’s and women’s very wearable, highly desirable items. Denim and sharp tailoring mixed stunningly composed. Roberto Cavalli — Fausto Puglisi really turning on the heat with his fall 2023 collection — Italian fashion with a Sicilian twist.

Best presentation concept: Prada set the bar (or better the ceiling) very high with the entire ceiling roof of the show venue mechanically lifting several meters upward, turning the initial intimate atmosphere into a great hall, ready to stage the show. Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid wearing along with the other models a beautiful collection of sharply tailored looks. Bally’s show set in the house and garden of Leonardo Da Vinci was a real moment to behold, combined with the amazing live performed electronic music made it a show to remember.

Trendspotting: We liked the sophisticated, elevated, luxurious mood in Milan. The pinnacle of that was shown at the Ferragamo show, which was a powerful statement of elegance, taking Ferragamo into an exciting new era.

Must-have items: Bottega Veneta shirts, Ferragamo tailoring, Roberto Cavalli patchwork denim dress.

New talent: Every season we stop by the showcase that the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana put up at the design museum. It is fantastic to see that there is so much talent being championed and supported alongside all the big-name designer houses.

Bally RTW Fall 2023

Bally RTW Fall 2023

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Rickie De Sole, women’s fashion director at Nordstrom

Favorite collections: Bottega Veneta continues to blend the worlds of art, culture and fashion with captivating panache. From the flown-in Boccioni statues to the showstopping woven tactile fringe coat. Matthieu’s take on a modern wardrobe was a standout from the week with his effortless eveningwear and sophisticated tailoring. Prada’s thoroughly modern uniform was another standout with covetable favorites for fall such as a cocoon backed parka, kitten heels and tapered trousers. The wedding- inspired floral embellishments and use of organza added an unexpected softness and textural play. In the showroom, Brunello Cucinelli delivered a strong collection of feminine and streamlined blazer and skirt silhouettes. Maxmilian Davis’ sophomore collection at Ferragamo is promising. There’s no doubt that he’s bringing a fresh perspective to the house with a zest for defining colors and sculptural accessories.

Best presentation concept: Sunnei’s inventive crowd surfing concept was an unexpectedly fun way to view the collection.

RELATED: Everybody Was a Stage-diving Rock Star at Sunnei Fall 2023 Show

Must-have items: Bottega Veneta’s new Gemelli handbag — the double compartments and inventive convertible style in Bottega’s Intrecciato weave make a juxtaposing quiet statement bag.

General comment on the season: It was a strong yet tempered season in Milan. The pull toward modern minimalism and thoughtful craft and texture made Prada and Bottega Veneta shine.

Roopal Patel, senior vice president, fashion director at Saks

Favorite collections: Each season at Prada, it’s been incredible to see the dynamic creative collaboration grow between Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. With simple and intricate crew neck sweaters paired with white embroidered skirts, white shirtdresses inspired by nurses’ uniforms, the lineup of skirts from mini to midi to fully embroidered full styles inspired by wedding dresses, shirtless jackets and kitten heels, each piece is an everyday essential made with care and attention to detail.

Matthieu Blazy’s collection for Bottega Veneta was a standout. Rooted in the codes of the house, it was understated luxury at its best. The collection included supple leather, tailored separates, crafty, hand knit dresses, subtle embroideries, sharp tailoring and a stellar lineup of accessories and shoes including the new shopper tote and Intrecciato accessories.

Kim Jones delivered one of his best collections at Fendi with razor sharp, precision tailoring in a sea of neutrals and an intricate, luxe lineup of signature accessories that will be a hit for our customers. Maximilian Davis made his mark at Ferragamo with an impressive second show, featuring a lineup of sharp tailoring, slinky draped jerseys, plays on volume and a reimagination of the iconic wedge and hug bag. Jil Sander’s collection delivered a great play on volume, texture and proportion for fall, with intricate aluminum embroideries for evening, oversize dip dyed shearlings in neon green, anoraks and parkas paired with zip pants and a delicate line up of punchy florals.

JJ Martin’s La DoubleJ has become a staple for joyous, happy prints that raise your vibration. The fall collection inspired by JJ’s recent travels to Egypt was pure magic and had high priestess vibes in every look. At Armarium, Giorgia Gabriele created a wardrobe of effortlessly chic and luxurious staples. The razor-sharp tailored jackets and pants, recycled cashmere knits, slim skirts, oversize menswear inspired toppers and the structured top handle frame bag are set to be key staples for a complete fall wardrobe. Other favorites included Brunello Cucinelli and Loro Piana.

RELATED: La DoubleJ RTW Fall 2023

Trendspotting: Key trends included precision tailoring in jackets, pants and toppers, 50 shades of gray as the fall neutral of the season seen at Fendi, Prada and Ferragamo, lingerie-inspired details for daytime dressing and the return of the skirt, from mini to midi to fully embroidered styles at Prada. It is the season of texture, with novelty shearling on every runway, colored leather ensembles, delicate sequins, intricate floral embroideries seen at Prada and Jil Sander and artisanal crafted handbags. In footwear, kitten heels, pumps and fur-trimmed sandals made a return for fall.

Must have item: A gray crew neck sweater and white embroidered full skirt from Prada, and a handbag from Bottega Veneta.

Linda Fargo, senior vice president of fashion at Bergdorf Goodman

Favorite collections: Bottega Veneta was a tour de force of craft meeting artistry meeting fashion. The marriage of concept to technique and innovation here is profound and should make Italy #fashionproud. Prada is the ultimate visionary, and always gives more than it first appears. We especially went in for the repurposed bridal fragments mixed back to humble sweaters and the uniforms transformed. Fendi set a high bar for the week with a season defining collection. Masculine and feminine interplayed beautifully off each other. Riffs on layered and abstracted tailoring were favorites. The pleated skirt/pant will be on many of our personal lists. We were all in on the new beautiful clean luxe codes at the new Ferragamo. It was heartening to see Dolce supporting the guest artist unicorn talent of Tomo Koizumi. We missed Versace and Marni, integral to the Milan fashion landscape, but respect their freedom to occasionally shift their context. Next time.

Best presentation concept: It’s time to thank Brunello Cucinelli for personally hosting us at his inviting and intimate presentations set in the courtyard of his showroom. He’s always there with his family and team to hear from us, look and touch the collection and treat us to the other pride of Italy — food, wine and coffee. 

Trendspotting: You can’t miss the importance of elongating silhouettes, whether it’s the maxi coat, the longer dresses, the narrowing pencil skirts or the slimming long knit T-neck dress. Polished luxe looks. Understatement versus overstatement. Interplays between masculine and feminine. Modern riffs and abstractions on tailoring as central to all wardrobes. Stronger shoulders and boxy boy-cut jackets are still on the list though the nipped hourglass is beginning to trend. Eye-catching outerwear was a top category. Supple leather dressing was key. After seasons of color, chic and sleek, “Matrix” black is omnipresent, as are all shades of menswear gray and Italian neutrals — camel, sienna and umber. Artery red punctuates collections. Handbags when not top handled were tucked up safely under arm on both men and women, and footwear favored pointy, single soles and slimmer heels. 

Must-have items: Big fluffy and fabulous coats. Capes, whether fanciful or strikingly simple. The cling on T-neck long dress. Tights and over elbow gloves. “Matrix” worthy sunglasses. Pointy toes, ballet flats and shaft boots. Maxi coats.

General comment on the season: Milan went long on its strong suit: modern takes on luxe. Stealth chicness prevailed over Instagram magnet antics. Dressing up is gaining ground. Who knew “wearable fashion,” to some perhaps an oxymoron, could look and feel so right now. Milan made a good case for it.

Fendi RTW Fall 2023

Fendi RTW Fall 2023

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Jodi Kahn, vice president of luxury fashion at Neiman Marcus

Best presentation concept: Amidst a packed calendar of shows and meetings, the Brunello Cucinelli presentation always feels like being welcomed into his home. Casa Cucinelli is a sun-drenched space where every item is meticulously placed. There is no better way to enjoy the new collection, which highlighted intricate, couture knitwear, soft, feminine tailoring and slender skirts.

Trendspotting: Seeing red: moving on from Barbie core, red conjures something different — more powerful, passionate. While most collections seem to be playing in a neutral palette, red is the exclamation point. Most impactful when worn head to toe. The mini is still part of the Milano arsenal, we loved the leggy skirt shape juxtaposed with a practical flat or crisp shirt, or with the heat turned all the way up at Dolce & Gabbana, with a heel and sheer black nylon. The idea of uniform dressing evolved from NYFW’s wardrobing essentials to those in uniform: nurse inspired shirt gowns at Prada, and elsewhere with details like military brass buttons or an aviator’s shearling. 

Must-have items: A statement making faux fur coat. Almost every single show had their own twist — in a signature zigzag at Missoni, dipped in a supernatural green at Jil Sander, and oversize and fabulous at Ferragamo in red, gray and leopard.

Buying process: During fashion week, we balance not only shows and showroom visits, but we have a unique opportunity to meet with the brand teams to collaborate on initiatives and exclusive packages that will excite our clients.

General comment on the season: If NYFW is energized by the next generation of designers, Milan is anchored on the heritage brands — some riffing on their signature house codes, some with a fresh point of view from a new creative director. Two overarching themes that emerged were a study of quiet luxury through neutrals, uniform dressing and a return to the classics, and second, a fixation on “Amore” and the endless inspiration that is romance. Dolce & Gabbana’s parade of Uber “Sensuale,” Missoni asked the audience on every seat card if we remembered our first kiss, and Bottega included Betty Who’s “I Love You Always Forever” as part of the soundtrack. For standout collections, Prada was moving in its examination of comfort, those in service, and everyday beauty, while Matthieu dazzled at Bottega with compelling craftsmanship. The show radiated a particular youthful spirit from the music to the energetic walk from each model. The collection did not disappoint on the last night of MFW. We were thrilled to see Maximilian’s vision for Ferragamo become razor sharp with a sleek, confident proposition, and Etro’s mixed print, cozy collection a highlight from Day One. 

Joseph Tang, fashion director at Holt Renfrew

Favorite collections: This season, there was a serious undertone to the collections, with designers focusing in on new, classic pieces designed to last into seasons to come. Standout collections included the third season for Matthieu Blazy at Bottega. Prada always leads the way for the fashion intellect with a focused juxtaposition between the hard and soft. Tod’s showcased a sublime collection of beautifully crafted handbags and sophisticated clothing. Kim Jones’ Fendi collection was sleek and tailored with an emphasis on the waist. Overall the collections portrayed a degree of austerity and luxury that we know will resonate with our customer. 

Best presentation concept: Rhuigi Villaseñor’s second collection for Bally held at the famous Casa degli Atellani, Leonardo Da Vinci’s home. 

Loro Piana’s immersive experience into the production of their luxurious cashmeres with a stunning display of more than 600 kgs of cashmere. 

Trendspotting: Stealth sophistication continues to be the strongest trend this season, with an emphasis on classic tailoring with a chic twist. Every woman will need to invest in a tailored overcoat, whether it’s oversize or fitted. Silhouettes are reinterpreted in rich leathers and shearlings, paired with luxe leather accessories. Maximilian Davis portrayed this brilliantly. 

In a sea of gray, this season every collection featured a pop of red — the standout color to invest in this season. 

There was an overall feeling of futuristic realism this season with Jil Sander, Gucci and Prada playing with traditional textiles — modernizing with innovative techniques. The intersection of artisanal craft with new sustainable technologies is exciting to see. 

Must-have item: A Prada embellished wedding skirt; Brunello Cucinelli opera knit cardigan; Ferragamo white wide-leg trousers; Etro intarsia knit cardigan; Gucci faux fur moon boots; Dolce & Gabbana lace trench; Jil Sander leather moto; Fendi tote bag.

Federica Montelli, head of fashion at Rinascente

Favorite collections: Prada, Bottega Veneta, Diesel, Dolce & Gabbana, Jil Sander. It was a great second outing for both Maximilian Davis at Ferragamo, clearly stating its luxe Italian aesthetic, and Marco De Vincenzo at Etro, which convinced with a rich layering of new and archival. Special mention for Blumarine and Roberto Cavalli, who are riding the waves of the 2000s glam with two powerful collections.

RELATED: Diesel Brings In the Sexy for Fall Collection

Best presentation concept: Sunnei was the runway highlight of the third day of Milan Fashion Week. The crowd-surfing models became an instant Instagram hit and gave us the much needed uplift in a gray Milanese day. Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo are proving season after season that you can take an unconventional approach while still keeping things not too serious.

Trendspotting: A feminine and grown-up woman, elegant, chic and luxe, somehow [discreet] and mysterious in its choice of sharp tailoring and tight silhouettes was the main theme in Milan, counterbalanced by the still present Y2K sexy trend. We’ve seen both the elegant total black and the sparkles, plenty of eco fur and shearling, shiny jersey for dresses, sharp tailoring in the straight and slightly oversize coats. There were a few hints here and there of a dark-punk mood, which was so strong in menswear.

Must-have item: Anything Prada. I am [confident] that the layered miniskirts, the trapeze handle bag and the simple pointy pump will be flooding street style come next season. In general, it’s been a strong season for shoes, where the more feminine mood we’ve seen on the runway hints at a return to the golden age of footwear. Fitted boots with stiletto heels, cuissardes, platforms are all must haves. Maxi long fur coats and micro shearlings were other hits, styled with form-hugging draped jersey dresses.

General comment on the season: Milan did luxe and classy, now we are eager to see what comes next in Paris.

Backstage at Ferragamo RTW Fall 2023

Backstage at Ferragamo RTW Fall 2023

Vanni Bassetti/WWD

Simon Longland, director of buying, fashion at Harrods

Favorite collections: Bottega Veneta was the highlight of my Milan Fashion Week; Matthieu Blazy just gets better and better. After delivering incredible shows in his first two seasons the expectations were high and he did not disappoint, showing a spectacular collection that delivered on every front. From the strict minimal tailoring to the embellished and extravagant the collection was one highlight after another. Prada showcased a truly beautiful, pure “Prada” collection, one that had guests adding look after look to their ideal shopping lists. Miuccia and Raf bring out the very best in each other and the whole collection was covetable, from the white embellished skirts with dark cashmere knits and fishtail shirtdresses to the standout tailored jackets and capes. Jil Sander’s collection was full of elevated clean lines that are the very DNA of the brand; the tailoring was key with both slimmer and oversize looks, and the leather peplum detailing had a entirely sculptural feeling. Kim Jones delivers at Fendi, and this collection was a triumph. A beautiful and harmonious contrast of the sensuous and fluid with the sartorial and structured. We saw a wholly wearable, rich color palette of black and chocolate set against chic neutrals with bursts of scarlet and fuchsia peppered throughout the entire collection. A collection full of standouts, but for me, I expect the long, slinky dresses, draped leather dresses, sequin lined trenchcoats and the billowing trousers will be some of next season’s must-haves.

Best presentation concept: The laser show, paired with the “Twin Peaks” soundtrack at Fendi was incredibly atmospheric and set the tone for a remarkable show right from the start. Prada’s ceiling that raised to reveal floral displays was really impressive, and the scent throughout the space was also immensely impactful.

Trendspotting: The slinky dress was everywhere this season from Prada, Fendi and Bottega more pared back, subtle silhouettes to Dolce & Gabbana and Missoni’s glamorous, more dramatic styling. There was a huge variety in statement coats this week, but key trends to note for the coming season are elongated, floor sweeping lengths, textured curly shearling, bold color all in either beautiful soft fluid cocooning or sharp and tailored silhouettes. Winter white: worn head to toe from shirting to outerwear and accessories. As expected, we saw a strength in black and gray, but accent colors of red, pink and yellow were warmly welcomed and faultlessly styled. Sheer fabrications took center stage across the week, and this time not limited to evening, from elevated day looks seen from Etro and Bottega, to red carpet, extreme glamour from Dolce & Gabbana, transparency is here to stay. There was no end to spectacular and glamorous dressing this weekend, and while the collections weren’t as dominated by it, we still saw beautiful pieces with crystal and embroidery embellishment which will please our clients looking to dress things up.

Must-have item: In almost every show we saw various iterations of a gray, sharply tailored overcoat — it’s an absolute must have next winter. A winter white skirt and dark knit pairing from Prada, classically chic and iconic Prada. Almost everything from the Bottega Veneta collection, but if I had to choose the black sculpted jacket and/or sculpted dress will be on many ideal shopping lists next season.

RELATED: All the Looks From Bottega Veneta RTW Fall 2023

Ida Petersson, buying director at Browns

Favorite collection: Prada — the whole collection was just magical; Miuccia’s and Raf’s best outing to date.

Best show format: Fendi — we got goosebumps when we heard the intro music and saw the models walking through the light tunnel. It was very powerful. 

Top trends: Simplicity and wardrobing continuing to rule, alongside subtle punk references and denim everything. 

Must-have item(s): A new Fendi top handle bag, Prada’s must-have flower pump and embroidered skirt, and those thigh-high crystal Diesel boots, not to be worn together of course. 

Budgets up or down: Level as we are continuing our cautious approach. 

New talent: Andreadamo. Andrea’s really growing as a designer and we just love his work.

RELATED: Andreādamo’s Fall 2023 Show Featured an Indoor Rain Shower

Riccardo Tortato, head of buying departments and men’s fashion director, Tsum, Moscow and DLT, St. Petersburg

Favorite collections: Prada, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana.

Best presentation concept: Gucci, Brunello Cucinelli, Bally.

Trendspotting: Sophisticated dresses. The collections in general were really light and not so wintry, so they required layering. As seen in the Dolce & Gabbana show, the underwear and see-through [designs] are back even during the fall season. As for the accessories, I noticed so many amazing high boots for next winter.

Must-have item: The Bally high boots and all Bottega Veneta’s leather products.

General comment on the season: The season was for sure really dynamic and Milan was really packed with buyers from all countries, who were back in the city after the pandemic break. Overall, I think Milan presented really sophisticated collections, full of creativity but as always with a sharp attention to the business. I feel Milan came back after the pandemic stronger than before.

Prada RTW Fall 2023

Prada RTW Fall 2023

Giovanni Giannoni/WWD

Marissa Galante Frank, fashion director, accessories and beauty at Bloomingdale’s

Favorite collections: Maximilian Davis made his mark at Ferragamo creating a chic collection that remixed the classics for a range of customers. Bottega Veneta was another clear winner and Matthieu Blazy had his dedication to craftsmanship on display. At the Gucci show, there was such a perfect balance between the exciting theatrical pieces and elevated wearable items that could be worn directly off the runway.

Trendspotting: Red has proven to be a key trend color and present in virtually every collection. From head-to-toe looks to statement accessories, red is the exciting color of the season. Chocolate browns and grays are the other key colors of the season, best in outerwear and boots.

Must-have item(s): Kitten heels from Prada. Gucci’s reimagined Jackie bag and maxi horsebit shoulder bag. Bottega Veneta’s new jewelry pieces will be a nice compliment to their viral drop earring that we all love so much at Bloomingdale’s.

General comment on the season: Milan proved to be a season that highlighted new and emerging design talent, from Maximilian Davis’ second ready-to-wear collection for Ferragamo to Matthieu Blazy’s third collection at the helm for Bottega Veneta. After Gucci’s finale the entire design team came out and received a semi-standing ovation which was extremely touching and reinforced the importance of collaboration and teamwork.

Maud Pupato, divisional merchandise manager womenswear luxury and designers at Printemps

Favorite collection: Prada

Best presentation concept: Diesel is one to quote as it set the tone the first day of Milan, promoting safe sex embodying the Y2K trend. For sure with Glenn Martens, it’s a “successful living.” I absolutely loved Prada, it was as always a poetic and sharp reinterpretation of the brand’s DNA with this time a focus on skirts, suggesting how to wear your evening pieces on a more daily way. Brilliant! Maximilian Davis second show at Ferragamo was a highlight of this fashion week, silhouettes are precise, elevated and sexy. A true women empowerment garde-robe and an ode to red, the color of the season. Difficult not to mention Gucci with its diverse silhouettes proposals, introducing more causality to the Italian house while conserving the attention to details and heritage, the horsebit bag might be one of the must haves of the season.

RELATED: ‘Throwback’ Fashion Is Tops in Search Trends

Trendspotting: Y2K is definitely settling in and it’s becoming even more assumed, reaffirming some of the codes we like from it: roses, ruffles, cargos, high heels, corsets, cropped jackets, denim, chokers. Sexiness and femininity are evolving to a very empowering silhouette where the body is sublimized with transparent thin knits, one-piece body as a full outfit, skirts in every way (saying goodbye to the long pants trend we came from) and high pointy heels. Let’s also notice the gait, especially at Dolce & Gabbana, with a strong shoulder movement, strengthening this new power woman. Only one color to remember: red. And we love it has come back through all categories.

April Hennig, chief merchant at Moda Operandi 

Favorite collections: Matthieu Blazy’s innovative creativity and artisanal craftsmanship at Bottega Veneta delivered on his clear vision for the house. Prada’s reworked wardrobing was full of covetable hits. We also loved the rich bohemian layers at Etro and the sublimely chic lineup at Jil Sander.

Best presentation concept: Prada’s set quite literally heightened all our imaginations.

Trendspotting: Milan offered a refreshing balance of creative whimsy and elegant wardrobing, leaning into modern interpretations of craftsmanship and heritage. The clean minimalism we’re calling “polished reality” carried over from New York to the strong showing at Ferragamo as well as Tod’s and Del Core. Sculpted silhouettes, hero outerwear, sharp and feminine tailoring, and tactile texture were key themes throughout the collections.

Must-have items: The Murano glass sardine handle bags at Bottega Veneta are true collector’s items — and something to treasure. The embroidered white skirts at Prada will be on everyone’s wish list.

General comment on the season: The Milan collections inspired a pragmatic optimism full of compelling and emotional products. Retailers Praise Luxury, Innovative Fall 2023 Looks in Milan – WWD

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