International

Benetton, Ferrari close Milan Fashion Week with bold moves

Models wear creations as part of the Benetton women's Spring Summer 2023 collection presented in Milan, Italy, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

MILAN (AP) — Milan Fashion Week closed Sunday after five days of mostly womenswear previews that celebrated diversity and renewal, with more designers of color represented than ever and a host of new talent making their debuts at major fashion houses.

The Italian fashion council was also putting the spotlight on sustainability with the return of the Green Carpet awards Sunday night recognizing progress in practices that reduce waste in the industry and its carbon footprint.

Even while the fashion world was putting the spotlight on sustainability, this season’s calendar presented unsustainable trajectories between shows, forcing the fashion crowd to travel back and forth, multiple times in one day, in an already gridlocked city. Even biking proved a challenge with few bike lanes on the routes.

Some highlights from Sunday, the closing day of Milan Fashion Week:

REMAKING BENETTON FROM THE KNITWEAR UP

Benetton is embarking on yet another remake, this time under the creative direction of Andrea Incontri, a Milan designer with experience at a host of fashion houses, including Tod’s.

An architect by training, Incontri wants to reshape the Benetton retail experience, and emptied the Corso Buenos Aires flagship store for his runway debut as creative director. Upstairs, his new collection — replete with colorful fruit-repeating motifs, pretty melange knits and tweeds — hangs against a bare tiled wall, in well-curated, easy to survey constellations.

Underlining his desire to start with the consumer, Incontri staged the runway show on the ground floor, allowing passersby to catch a glimpse.

The modern silhouette includes culottes — a hot trend in Milan for next spring and summer — and leather Obi belts that shape crisp cotton dresses or corresponding cotton shirt-short sets for men.

The brand’s famed knitwear is pretty in melange, which layers nicely. A bra top gives a modern edge to a ribbed tunic and trousers, as cozy as it is chic. Knit biker shorts transform a tweed skirt and jacket into active daywear. Fruit motifs create a cornucopia of mix-and-match looks: the reds, pinks and yellows of cherries, pears and apples all aligning cheerily with green, sky blue and yellow backgrounds.

Incontri has given the Benetton octopus logo a much-needed graphic update, deploying it sparingly, and he has created necklaces with the B and E for Benetton, in the spirit of personalization popular with Gen-Z. Just six months in the job, Incontri promises an even fuller makeover at the 57-year-old brand, which has experienced periods of malaise.

Whereas Benetton’s heydey is strongly associated with the socially forward United Colors of Benetton advertising campaigns of Oliviero Toscani, Incontro wants to put the product and the consumer first.

“This is a brand that I feel a lot of affection for, as do many Italians, because I grew up with it,″ Incontri told reporters.

FERRARI APPAREL GAINING TRACTION

Super sportscar maker Ferrari’s foray into luxury goods is finding traction with its luxury auto buyers, as hoped, but also Formula 1 fans whose garages house less flashy cars.

Rocco Iannone, the creative director of Ferrari’s fashion line, said he saw the effect during the Monza Grand Prix event this month. Many Formula 1 fans were buying pricey made-to-measure Ferrari garments, and showing up the next day wearing them at the race track “with badges and all of the iconic elements.”

“This mix is what I am interested in telling: They exist and we want to give them a wardrobe,’’ Ianonne said.

Iannone’s third collection focuses on what the creative director called Ferrari’s “primordial materials:” leather, denim, cotton and silk.

The new collection combines pieces Formula 1 fans would covet, including racing jumpsuits and pit jackets adorned with patches, as well as elegant statement pieces incorporating the Ferrari technological drive with more subtlety.

Jacquard cargo pants are made with recycled nylon, rendering a camouflage look. The denim is technological, each piece treated with sprays of ozone to give a colorful stone-washed effect without the usual environmental damage. And napa glove leather is used to make supple leather jumpsuits in a deep red with orange undertones or black.

“The goal is to embrace the soul of Ferrari through a sharp, precise and mixed wardrobe,″ Iannone.