New Designers Are Forging the Future at Storied Brands in Italy

Maximilian Davis at Salvatore Ferragamo and Marco De Vincenzo at Etro are among the designers this fall who will unveil their collections for brands that are going through pivotal changes in ownership and at the C-suite level.

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A Salvatore Ferragamo store. Courtesy of Salvatore Ferragamo

 

MILAN — A new group of young designers will this month unveil their first collections for some of Italy’s most storied brands, coinciding with pivotal changes in ownership and at the C-suite level.

Marco De Vincenzo, who joined Etro as its new creative director in June, is expected to mark a new phase for the brand that began with L Catterton’s acquisition of a controlling stake in July 2021, followed by the arrival from Dolce & Gabbana of Fabrizio Cardinali as chief executive officer last September.

Founder Gerolamo, or Gimmo, Etro’s children Veronica, Kean and Jacopo, who were previously creative directors of the women’s, men’s and home collections, respectively, continue to collaborate with the house, but Cardinali has said that, thanks to De Vincenzo’s “sensibility for colors, prints and fabrics,” he was confident the designer “will know how to best interpret Etro’s extraordinary heritage” and that he will “give new impulse to the world of accessories.”

The designer, a former winner of the Vogue Italia “Who Is on Next?” talent search who is known for his labor-intensive clothes, optical effects, rich fabrics and sophisticated embellishments, has been working for years on accessories as a consultant for Fendi with Karl Lagerfeld and Silvia Venturini Fendi. His first designs for Etro will bow on Sept. 23 during Milan Fashion Week.

Etro’s show will take place a few hours after Filippo Grazioli’s revamped vision for Missoni. This will mark Grazioli’s first catwalk effort since joining the brand as creative director last March. He was already responsible for the resort and men’s spring collections unveiled via presentations earlier this summer. Grazioli was tapped by CEO Livio Proli, who arrived at the company in 2020, as part of a reorganization following the Missoni family’s sale of a 41.2 percent stake in the firm to the Italian FSI fund in 2018.

On Sept. 24, Maximilian Davis will present his first designs as creative director of Salvatore Ferragamo with a coed show. Born in Manchester and a graduate of London College of Fashion, Davis founded his brand Maximilian in 2020, which he is putting on hold to be fully dedicated to Ferragamo. Davis launched his namesake brand after working as a junior designer at Grace Wales Bonner, and previously worked as a freelance designer for Mowalola, Asai and Supriya Lele.

His arrival, succeeding Paul Andrew, is one of the first tangible signs of CEO Marco Gobbetti’s tenure. Gobbetti joined Ferragamo from Burberry last January, and last May he said he aimed to double the company’s revenues in four to five years and to double marketing and communication spending as a percentage of revenues beginning in 2023. This will lead to a cumulative investment of 400 million euros in the 2023-to-2026 period, focused on store renovations, technology and supply chain.

“The clarity of his vision together with the level of execution and his powerful aesthetic make him one of the most brilliant talents of his generation. His work is defined by elegance, refined sensuality and constant commitment to quality,” Gobbetti said of Davis on his appointment as creative director. “Through his lens of contemporary sensibility, he will write a new, exciting chapter for this house built on a heritage of creativity, craftsmanship, sophistication and outstanding human values.”

Last year the Florence-based company reported a return to the black, posting a profit of 81 million euros compared with a loss of 72 million euros in 2020, and a 29.5 percent increase in revenues to 1.13 billion euros.

Switzerland-based Bally, which has traditionally hosted presentations, is making its debut on the runway in Milan with the first collection designed by Rhuigi Villaseñor, the Manila-born designer behind the Rhude brand.

Villaseñor joined Bally in January. CEO Nicolas Girotto hailed his arrival as in line with the repositioning of the brand, and said he was “ready to move Bally to the next level” with the designer.

At Rhude, the designer specialized in elevated streetwear, casual tailoring and silk separates with a Rat Pack-style swagger, at times incorporating bandana print as a signature. He has had several collaborations: with luxury carmaker McLaren to produce capsule fashion collections, with Thierry Lasry on sunglasses, and with Instant Pot on kitchenware. And with his fan base of athletes and musicians, he is expected to bring a new buzz to Bally.

Showing off-schedule on Sept. 25 at its Milan flagship on Corso Buenos Aires, United Colors of Benetton will parade the first collection designed by new creative director Andrea Incontri. CEO Massimo Renon has said Incontri’s arrival “will bring new energy to a history of success passing through a generational change” leading to an “urgent redefinition of the social role of fashion and ready-to-wear.” Incontri was the men’s creative director of Tod’s for five years until 2019.

An architecture graduate from the Politecnico di Milano, Incontri launched his namesake brand in 2009, won the men’s edition of the “Who Is on Next?” talent search in 2010 in the accessories category, and then developed a full-fledged men’s and women’s collection. Incontri succeeds Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, who was named Benetton’s artistic director in 2018.

Eyes will also be on the path of the Milan-based Off-White label. At the end of April, Ibrahim Kamara was appointed art and image director of the brand founded by Virgil Abloh, whose death last year at the age of 41 sent shock waves not only through the fashion world, but also the broader culture, from music to the skate scene. Kamara, the editor in chief of Dazed, has been part of the Off-White family for years, styling the shows of the brand in addition to being the stylist of choice for many other fashion designers, ranging from Riccardo Tisci to Erdem Moralioglu. Before taking on the top job at Dazed, Kamara produced editorials for the likes of i-D, System, Vogue Italia and Another magazine.

 

 

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