Matty Bovan’s Maximalist Designs Have Unexpected Ties to Italy’s Fashion

·4 min read

MILAN Matty Bovan’s avant-garde maximalism is decamping to Milan this season and he is all about taking his rebel spirit to the city’s fashion, traditionally rooted in wearability.

“I’m incredibly excited because I’m so used to London and it’s really an exciting opportunity for me,” Bovan told WWD, Zooming in from Yorkshire in the U.K. a few days before the show, which is scheduled for Sept. 25 at 4 p.m. CET. The show is being backed by Dolce & Gabbana as part of a mentoring program jumpstarted last February that invites young names to Milan Fashion Week and supplies them with fabrics and materials.

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“When they originally contacted me, I did come over to Milan I think in June for their men’s show. I had a meeting with them, they were great and very encouraging, they loved my use of color and use of texture, they told me to do whatever I wanted,” Bovan explained.

A 2015 Central Saint Martins graduate with an MA in fashion knitwear, his graduate collection earned him the L’Oréal Professionel Creative Award, followed by the prestigious LVMH Graduate Prize, which included 10,000 euros and a junior designer placement at Louis Vuitton under Nicolas Ghesquière.

A self portrait of Matty Bovan.
A self-portrait of Matty Bovan.

In 2021, the designer took home the Woolmark Prize, crediting his mastery in knitwear design, seen by Bovan as his strongest tie with Italian fashion.

“Italy is the capital of knitwear in the world, so I kind of already have an affinity with Italians’ love of texture and colors,” he offered.

“It’s really exciting for me who’s maybe a little bit of a rebel when it comes to how I do the craft, [I’m] a turn-on-its-head [type] slightly, which I think is the point of someone in my position anyway, to challenge people’s expectations, level of taste, and what people know, especially young people,” he said.

“I want them to look at the collection and think, ‘Oh, you know I want to learn how to knit, how to crochet, how to silk print.’ That’s my role in a lot of ways, to challenge the status quo and push it forward,” he added.

Building on his fall 2022 creative vision of “chaos and destruction,” the spring lineup marks an evolution that he described as “controlled chaos,” distilled into texture manipulation Bovan referred to as “camouflage.”

Just don’t expect military gear.

“I challenged myself to cover each texture in something that could meld together, so it was kind of this idea of shapeshifting through this universe, through the different outfits….I started quite vague and then I was very particular about my fabrics, my textures, everything from then on was very controlled in a sense,” he said.

A preview look at Matty Bovan's textured fabrics for spring 2023.
A preview look at Matty Bovan’s textured fabrics for spring 2023.

Lurex jacquards are to mingle with Scottish lambswool knits, custom prints, hand-painting, sequins and hand-crochet, all worked into layered outfits, with structured skirts and exaggerated shoulder lines pushing conventions on feminine tropes.

“It’s a tour de force,” Bovan said. “It’s very Matty Bovan in a sense but it’s an elevated Matty Bovan collection,” he added.

The Milan trip also marks an opportunity for Bovan to ramp up the brand’s visibility and appeal. “That’s a bonus, really,” he said.

He’s been mindful to inject some more commercial pieces, including bestselling T-shirts and sweatshirts, although the experimental fashion approach still sits at the core.

“I kind of pushed that side a bit more but to be honest my modus operandi is to create special pieces,” he said. “I believe the role of my job is to provide some fantasy and an exaggeration of the everyday world, but there is a lot of wearable things in the collection.”

Runway at Matty Bovan RTW Fall 2022 ​on February 18, 2022 in City.
Matty Bovan RTW Fall 2022 ​on Feb. 18, 2022, in London.

“People when they see my work they think it’s avant-garde but actually I design with a wardrobe in mind, so I do work on pieces that can be translated into very wearable items. When you see it, it looks very intense and amplified but…when you break it down, there’s some very wearable stuff,” he noted.

As part of the tie-up with Dolce & Gabbana, Bovan has trained his crafty hands on archive pieces for a cobranded capsule collection debuting in the show for which he revisited signature styles that “are very important to Dolce’s history.”

The joint effort provided Bovan with the opportunity to work within a design studio, which he is not accustomed to, handling most operations on his own.

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