Written by Manuela Hausen, Fashion Marketing Management student at Polimoda.
It might have been the intense soundtrack or the minimalist yet industrial space, or even the over the edge mixture of fabrics and inspirations. One thing can be assured, on June 15th during the Polimoda fashion show named Anthos, in Florence, Italy; spectators from varied backgrounds were astonished by the authenticity of the pieces made by 3rd and 4th year fashion design students. After listening to commentary from some of the guests, the overall sentiment was of excitement for the freshness exhibited by the newly graduated designers with the creative direction of the director Massimiliano Giornetti.
Beginning with the backstage, unlike other fashion shows that generally have a chaotic aspect to them i.e. some people screaming and others crying. The Anthos – Graduate Fashion Show 2023 had an overall vibe of excitement and ease. The hair and makeup were done by professionals in the beauty room, hairstylists and models were sharing news while in the makeup chairs it was possible to spot various relaxed faces. Around the hallways, models and staff were getting ready to do the rehearsal and, further in the morning, the dressers filled the dressing room in order to receive their instructions.
And truly, the only contamination that has taken place during the show was a cultural one, with 24 collections of designers coming from 18 different countries: Anna Casalini (Italy), Fernanda Castro (Peru), Siying Chen (China), Charles Cote (Canada), Olivia Doose (Canada), Rahel Ercolini (Ethiopia), Iman Zubair Fazal (USA), Eleonora Federico (Italy), Haigann Fevier-President (Canada), Carola Emma Galli (Italy – UK), Giorgia Giannotta (Italy), Alisa Kosiborod (Russia), Xiaodan Liao (China), Chia-Ying Lin (Taiwan), Giulia Mauro (Italy), Giovanna Miali (Italy), Keziah Hyacinth Ottman (Ireland), Filipe Daniel Silva Mota Cerejo (Portugal), Abygail Nathale Smith (Jamaica), Danielle Smith (South Africa), Mingze Sun (China), Rachel Tay Za (Myanmar), Amina Vanneling (Iran), Gabriele Venturi (Italy) and Marija Yankovich (Serbia). The over 100 looks presented during the afternoon were flooded by creative thinking and diverse inspirations ranging from a loved one to an homage of your childhood self, arriving even to the thought of humans being shrunk to half of their size. Hence, culminating on beautiful fabric manipulations: knitwear, drapery, structured fabrics, latex and feathers – everything that fills the eyes of fashion aficionados.
During the show, it was possible to hear guests grasping at the intricate pieces presented in the collections. The idea of a winter coat with elements in silk and mesh feels like an oxymoron, however the composition highly impacted the public. Soon, the models started walking with cut out suits and hats bringing some formality and structure to the collection. Also, fabric manipulations such as twisted tops and shirts turned into skirts were a delight to the sight. Not far from there, the mixture of sport references with rental tags, oversized shapes and vintage ski boots stood out for the show attendees.
Then, the elegance of the midi structured dress with a heart shaped decoté, laced to the bottom and with a lower arch structure to finish, was breathtaking. Also, it is important to highlight the complexity of the bridal dress that closed the show: an off white, almost beige, latex dress with silver brooches all over it and a shortened veil in the same colour. Not only were the designers able to provide beautiful pieces, after speaking with a few of them, they revealed that it was possible to challenge themselves by experimenting with materials and techniques that they hadn’t had contact with in previous projects.
Something heartwarming about the entire experience, that took place in the new building of Manifattura Tabacchi, was how beautifully the elements of the show were essential in order to make all the 24 collections come together as a whole. Students were assisted by big names in the industry e.g. Caroline Issa CEO and Fashion director for Tank Magazine, mentor of the last-year Undergraduate in Fashion Design, Diego Dolcini supported the designers with footwear and accessories, fashion stylist and mentor Serge Girardi, and the sound designer Frédéric Sanchez who created the soundtrack for the catwalk.
In the post runway, the designers stood right next to their pieces and concept mood boards, further explaining their inspirations and looks to guests such as Ed Westwick and Amy Jackson; figures from the music scene like Gaia, Clara, Beatrice Quinta and Tommy Dali. Other names within the prestigious guests looking at the collections were Vogue Italia Head of Content Francesca Ragazzi, Suzy Menkes, Linda Loppa, STYLE NOT COM, Danae Mercer Ricci, Mina Le, Fashion Boy, Ludovica Ragazzo, Constanza Pascolato and Consuelo Blocker. On the other hand, this-year jury was composed by fashion critic Eugene Rabkin, Bruce Pask and Lidewiji Edelkoort.
Moreover, the show was broadcasted in multiple platforms such as the Polimoda website and other social networks: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and TikTok. Soon the entire show can be watched by the public on their YouTube channel as well.
As a final note about this experience, it was certainly inspiring to see how far and diverse this new generation of designers can go, as Mr Giornetti has stated: “The time is necessary to create a collection, the time that’s essential to make mistakes, grow and mature. This is the real luxury in fashion today. Being able to wait for the results of precise and delicate work.”
The creative freedom was flowing all the way from the pieces to the runway. And it is, in fact, a delight to observe what can be done without the oversight of a big group or a logo to be held as the main character of a collection. The fashion scene will definitely see more of the talent that these designers hold in the future – to them, my truthful wish is that they never lose this authenticity and freshness within them. Innovation definitely comes from looking within you and the environment you insert yourself in.