Spotlight on Accessories at Milan Fashion Week

MILAN — Accessories brands made a strong statement at Milan Fashion Week with sculptural designs, innovative techniques and sophisticated constructions.

Talk about being on trend. As the viral conversation around the Roman Empire reaches a fever pitch — on TikTok, the hashtag has racked up more than 1 billion views — Gianvito Rossi debuted his spring 2024 collection at just the right time. Its starting point? Rome and its rich history.

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“The last time I was in Rome, I thought about how beautiful it is — and what a great inspiration and story we have there,” Rossi said. “I tried to bring some elements of [its history] into the collection.”

Some of the most iconic symbols of Ancient Rome were revived in Rossi’s styles. Gold stiletto sandals called to mind the wristbands worn during the glory days of the Roman Empire. And the theme was also clear in a gladiator sandal, where golden laurels — the symbol of victory and honor — enveloped the leg. The floral embellishment also adorned an ultra-feminine pointy-toe sandal.

Gianvito Rossi gold stiletto sandal.
Gianvito Rossi’s gold stiletto sandal.

Loro Piana introduced the Loom bag, a spacious and versatile tote, reminiscent of the draping of fabric on a loom’s warp beam with a metal bar placed under the flap. The Loom is available in soft and silky calfskin leather, and in water-repellent and stain-resistant cotton and linen canvas, as well as antique cotton, a fabric composed of linen yarns that give the bag a unique and irregular appearance. The lining is in suede leather.

Loro Piana's the Loom bag
Loro Piana’s the Loom bag.

Held in a neoclassical palace with Renaissance origins, Jimmy Choo’s spring 2024 presentation had a little bit of everything — a 3D goddess, K-pop star Mi-Yeon of (G)I-DLE and a series of experiential rooms that provided a glamorous backdrop for the bags and shoes.

For the new season, there was a big focus on the Drop heel — designed to evoke fluidity with its rounded tip. The heel, first introduced last season, was the focal point of a minimal sandal, and also showed up on a patent pump, slingback and mule. “It came from this idea of making something that is very sexy and feminine,” said creative director Sandra Choi.

The brand’s Avenue motif — with its signature quilted design — made a strong statement across the bag and shoe collections.

Jimmy Choo Drop heels
Jimmy Choo’s Drop heels

Known for his ability to make his greatest hits feel exciting again, Giuseppe Zanotti turned to his past once again as he looked ahead to spring 2024. A classic mule got a lift with an aerodynamic heel, updated from the archives. The designer’s focus on elongated lines was visible in the four-strap patent leather sandal, and his affinity for a little bling was shown in a pointy-toe sandal with a rhinestone torchon ankle strap. Finally, leopard — now a fashion neutral for many — made a return in a towering platform.

Giuseppe Zanotti pointy-toe sandal with a rhinestone torchon ankle strap
Giuseppe Zanotti’s pointy-toe sandal with a rhinestone torchon ankle strap.

Edgardo Osorio understands the appeal of quiet luxury, but some moments call for fashion that is a little bit louder. For the Aquazzura spring ’24 collection, the designer, who resides in both Florence and Venice, wanted to celebrate all things Italy. “All of the different shoes are reminders of my favorite places,” he said. “I want them to make you smile, and make you want to go on holiday.” Among the designer’s favorite styles is the Capri Crush. “It has one of my favorite things in the world — coral. “I love the sea and we decided to make a whole line — a clutch, jewelry and a statement flat,” Osorio said.

Aquazzura bag from Spring 2024 collection
Aquazzura bag from the spring 2024 collection.

The debut of men’s was the big news at Stuart Weitzman, which launched a Made in Italy collection. Across the women’s assortment, the tried-and-true nudist sandal was reimagined with wood veneer heels and platforms. And as the 5050 boot turns 30, the signature style was back in the spotlight — with a big push planned for fall. The brand — which recently saw the departure of designer Edmundo Castillo — also is making a foray into women’s sneakers.

Stuart Weitzman's 5050 boot
Stuart Weitzman’s 5050 boot.

Inspired by female designers such as Nanda Vigo and Gabriella Crespi — and the archives of Giuseppe Zanotti (the young talent’s biggest supporter) — Nicolò Beretta took his feminine aesthetic to the next level. Sculptural styles fashioned in new materials and bright colors put the focus on eye-catching details. Mules came adorned with chrome drapery on the toe, while swirls of ribbon and metal mesh (embroidered with chandelier-effect crystals) decorated sandals. Python print styles in laminated shades also made a strong statement.

Nicolò Beretta's mule from spring 2024
Nicolò Beretta’s mule from spring 2024.

With new leadership at the helm and a fresh growth strategy now in place, the Sergio Rossi brand continues to take advantage of its rich archive. This season, Sergio Rossi brings back a hero style from 2010, the Mermaid, defined by its perforated leather and its trompe-l’oeil effect on the skin. From a cage bootie and over-the-knee boot to a ballerina and platform sandal, the Mermaid story is extensive.

Sergio Rossi's cage boot
Sergio Rossi’s cage boot.

The Hogan brand’s H-Stripe sneakers were the story of the season — with plush white leathers paired with the colorful H signature and pastel accents. Gender-neutral jogging-inspired sneakers also made a statement. The Hogan H bag was crafted in a scale of earthy shades or pastel hues.

Hogan, spring 2024
Hogan, spring 2024

Generations of women artisans in southern Colombia have perfected the art of weaving — and Themoiré decided to spotlight their talents — and their communities — in the brand’s third capsule collection. The environmentally responsible brand partnered with 200 women who use natural Iraca fibers, which are biodegradable, as the centerpiece of their work. From the label’s signature handbag designs to new clutches and shoulder bags, each of the special styles is hand woven and fashioned in three colors inspired by the hues of Colombian cities.

Themoirè's bags from spring 2024
Themoirè’s bags from spring 2024.

Best known for its elegantly crafted men’s looks, Santoni is focusing more heavily on the women’s business for spring ’24. The brand — which drew inspiration from Marche, the shoemaking region where it’s based — offered up geometric-heeled sandals and pointy-toe pumps in a variety of heights. A loafer paid tribute to the founder, and the brand’s double buckle signature detailing was incorporated heavily throughout. Carla Bruni and Bar Rafaeli stopped by the presentation, and carried ThePluto, Santoni’s new hero bag.

Santoni's geometric heeled sandal
Santoni’s geometric heeled sandal

As the brand marks 70 years, Fratelli Rossetti used its presentation to tell the story of its Italian heritage with a special exhibit — and celebrated its famed loafer. A larger-than-life version of the limited-edition Brera style — in stores and online now — greeted visitors at the presentation. Other key items — some of which remain bestsellers today — also were in the spotlight, from the brand’s original ice skate to the Magenta boot to the sockless Yacht to the Hobo slipper.

Fratelli Rossetti's loafer
Fratelli Rossetti’s loafer.

Flower Mountain, the sneaker brand born in Tokyo, celebrated its deep connection to nature, with lush plants serving as the backdrop for its colorful collection that tapped into the continuing convergence of fashion and outdoor. It launched a see now, buy now capsule with London-based collaborator Kish Kash. And for spring ’24, Flower Mountain explored the relationship between denim and the complex art of Sashiko, an ancient Japanese embroidery technique characterised by precious handmade textures.

Flower Mountain capsule collection from spring 2024 in collaboration with London-based collaborator Kish Kash
Flower Mountain capsule collection from spring 2024 in collaboration with London-based collaborator Kish Kash.

Archival styles took center stage at Le Silla, where the brand showcased some of its classic designs in updated styling. A tweaked version of the Punk pumps played up digital prints, while caged boots, pumps and sabots with sharp heels also paid homage to earlier styles.

Le Silla's Punk pump
Le Silla’s Punk pump.

Italian model-turned-designer Caterina Ravaglia is hoping to take her fledgling shoe business to the next level with several key styles for Kate Cate spring ’24 collection. A ‘90s-inspired sandal came decked out with metallic fringes on the heels, while a ballet flat shined with metallic and crystal details. The designer’s combat boot was also adorned with metallic details.

Kate Cate's ballet flats
Kate Cate’s ballet flats.

With a new office and showroom in Milan, Mach & Mach, the Georgian brand, is building the business and venturing beyond its double crystal bow. New details and embellishments — the pearl is the centerpiece — defined the spring ’24 collection, inspired by under-the-sea adventures and seaside locales. The Mermaid Pearl sandals, with sculptural kitten heels, were the brand’s first thong style and feature straps lit up by shimmering pearls. Slingbacks were updated and fashioned in satin and lace ruffles.

Mach & Mach Mermaid Pearl sandal
Mach & Mach Mermaid Pearl sandal.

It may be known for its Blade heel, but that’s not stopping Casadei from flexing its craftsmanship muscles to show what it’s long been capable of in other categories. For spring ’24, the brand was ready for the beach, introducing a new mini heel — the Galaxy, which has hardware that is hammered by hand and a line of crystals to keep it elevated figuratively, if not literally.

The vacation-ready footwear (which also includes jelly flip-flops) spanned a few color stories (shades of red, ready for a “tomato girl summer” part two, but also soft pinks and bright blues). Woven beach bags joined a series of wide-brimmed straw hats and retro cloches, a new category for the brand. “You have the possibility to wear the total look but also play with it. Our DNA can cross into different categories,” said chief executive officer Arianna Casadei.

Elsewhere in the collection, flats were prominent, leaning into the ballerina trend with flexible scrunched styles in metallic leather. The Blade stiletto was still present but done almost exclusively in a slingback.

Casadei noted that the brand will enter the Chinese market at the end of the year.

Casadei's Galaxy mini heel
Casadei’s Galaxy mini heel.

Fashion’s synergy with architecture and interiors is no secret (see the recent Salone de Mobile lineup for proof). For spring, Alexandre Birman found an authentic kinship with the Instituto Bardi, the foundation dedicated to the Italian-born, Brazilian-based Modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi.

“We were thinking about how to connect Brazil to Italy,” said founder Alexandre Birman. “Lina Bo Bardi was an architect but also a designer; she was into fashion, too.”

Through a donation to the institute, the brand was able to license the designs of three chairs of Bardi’s creation to use as inspiration for corresponding limited-edition styles: the Rocking Mules, based on the architect’s Rocking Chair; the Bola sandal, which channels the brass ball armrests of the Bola chair onto a heel (and utilizes its leather corsetry, too), and the Trolley sandal, a strappy leather sandal with an angled wooden heel meant to replicate the zigzags of Bardi’s tea trolley.

The brand presented the collaboration alongside its spring ‘24 collection, which had a sandal for every sandal lover, from delicate thong kitten heels and ankle-wrap raffia block heels to red-carpet-ready crystal decorated heels, plus a series of silk moiré mules in pinks, oranges and pastels.

Alexandre Birman's Bola sandal
Alexandre Birman’s Bola sandal.

Coming out of its 70th anniversary for 2023, Pollini is carrying on with some of the details it has pulled from the archives, specifically its Cremini striped sole, done for spring on thong sandals and Cavaliere boots alike. Both also include O-ring gold hardware and logo stamping, additional archival details added to both footwear and handbags for the season.

Pollini’s loafer got a slimmer, softer treatment, veering almost into ballet flat territory. And ultra-flexible metallic gold leather shaped a series of sling backs and ankle-wrap sandals that incorporated the scrunch detailing of a ballet flat — but with a heel.

In handbags, supple suede mixes with sturdy polished leather and woven raffia add to the softness of the season.

Pollini, spring 2024
Pollini, spring 2024.

How does a brand with bling in its DNA navigate this moment of quiet luxury? For Giorgia Caovilla, it’s about taking things down a notch but not losing the essence of René Caovilla‘s rococo aesthetic. “I think that the quiet luxury moment still has space for all brands,” said the third generation executive. “Luxury will never stop, maybe tastes change, but it’s still there. We are trying to do some simpler styles but still rich. And not necessarily [in] lower heels.”

Caovilla pointed to a series of sandals with a new cantilevered wedge heel as proof. Done in gold, silver and black, the sandal utilizes René Caovilla’s signature Cleo serpent-wrapped upper, swapping out chandelier crystals for articulated tubular bracelet hardware. The brand also removed embellishment from its Cleo for a series of satin styles done in various skin tones, named the Cleopatra.

As the 70th anniversary of its Cleo sandal wraps up for the year, the brand is also bringing an archive piece to production for spring ’24. A beaded style inspired by the jewelry of Maasai tribes in East Africa from the ’80s was done in its original color way along with a turquoise and gray version and will come in both a heel and a flat.

René Caovilla's Cleopatra heel.
René Caovilla’s Cleopatra heel.

It’s a good time to be a brand focused on flat shoes, and Charles Philip kept things characteristically low. In addition to its usual slippers, done in a square toe in suede and leather, the brand added ballerinas and kitten heels to round out the collection. There were on-trend mesh flats in black, nude and yellow fishnet, and a series of silver studded leather ballerinas. The satin Elena kitten heel (with or without a velvet bow) added an evening element.

The brand also unveiled a new art direction, using a saffron hue as its signature color. A new logo, meanwhile, uses the CPM initials to form the shape of a tassel, nodding to the brand’s original slipper design.

Charles Philip Milano's Elena satin ballerina
Charles Philip Milano’s satin ballerina Elena.

When Piero Giusti founded his footwear company in 1958, comfort shoes quickly became AGL‘s reputation. And since third-generation sisters Sara, Vera and Marianna came on board some 20 years ago, the brand has been focused on taking the footwear into a more fashion-forward direction.

For the spring ’24 collection, the Giusti sisters brought past and present into clearer view with a few new styles. One mule features its chunky round sole on an anatomically shaped footbed, all of it finished with hand-tied ruched leather bows. “I really wanted to mix up things,” said Vera Giusti of the collection, which she described as a mix of rococo and rock, hence its name “Rocorock Queen.”

Elsewhere in the collection, AGL is leaning into its modern roots in the ballet flat by updating the silhouette with more of their signature quirks. One style includes the oversize leather bows, while another is done in plush terry fabric. A more rigid leather ballerina is outfitted in tulle and delicate paper detailing — a real tutu for the feet.

AGL's ballerinas.
AGL’s ballerinas.

The brand Rodo leaned into its artistic know-how of weaving for the season, introducing a brand new wicker technique into its handbags while also playing with woven leather to give footwear a similarly textured look. A new wicker heel adorned leather mules and a wicker toe detail topped low slingbacks, while sneakers were outfitted with woven leather that is meant to look like wicker.

Rodo CEO Gianni Dori noted that come April, the brand will showcase its weaving and embroidery techniques at artisan activations inside Selfridges and Harrods, respectively.

The spring collection was not without its evening component. Satin bags and cushioned platforms (the best were done in chartreuse) were still sprinkled with crystal embroidery, but a bit less so than a few season ago, while a mesh ballerina got the full Rodo treatment in crystal knots.

Rodo, spring 2024
Rodo, spring 2024

Inspired by the Roaring ’20s, the contemporary brand Mario Valentino’s lineup included feather-accented pumps in metallic turquoise and strappy python sandals with gold ankle wraps, plus a few block-heeled slides, done in hot pink with matching feathers. Close-toed slingbacks in patent leather with a chunky low heel had the feel of a mary jane, with one version revealing a pinky toe cutout.

In the brand’s Valentino line, a focus on sneakers was divided up into three logo stories: a monogram, done mostly in Lurex; a sporty lettering done on crisscrossed elastic straps, and a “V” logo done on simpler leather silhouettes, which come as unisex styles.

Valentino Shoes' feather-accented pumps
Mario Valentino’s Shoes’ feather-accented pumps.

The Secret tote bag was the star of Serapian’s spring 2024 collection, which was titled “Milanese Geometries” and paid tribute to the understated elegance of the famed entryways of the city’s buildings.

First created as a bespoke artisanal piece for a discerning Milanese client who requested a spacious, lightweight bag with a hidden pocket inside, the bag was developed in different renditions, with color combinations ranging from coral red paired with pink and platinum to peacock blue with rust red and silver.

Yet the most striking one was a tan iteration crafted from supple napa leather and marked by Serapian’s signature Mosaico weaving techniques in a see-through version, which was enhanced by a contrasting lining. Inside, a hidden leather pouch still ensured secrecy for the most treasured belongings.

Serapian's tote bag from spring 2024 colection
Serapian’s tote bag from spring 2024 collection.

Since joining the storied leather goods-maker, Valextra CEO Xavier Rougeaux has sought to broaden the scope of the brand’s key codes. The spring collection was perhaps the most accomplished, best telegraphing his vision of Valextra’s ethos, one not rooted in minimalism but rather in purity, to which craft is integral, as he put it.

Valextra's Iside with a 3D-printed handle for spring 2024.
Valextra’s Iside with a 3D-printed handle for spring 2024.

The signature Iside top-handle bag was subject to reinvention, including one design with a new 3D-printed twisted handle, or a Milanese architectural patterned style achieved by overlaying leather with rubber, as well as the “palmelato” version, crafted from leather made softer compared to Valextra’s traditional “millepunte” thanks to a special treatment made with hand palms.

The collection unveiled the new VV Hobo shoulder bag featuring an engineered V shape that allows it to be worn as a hobo style or in a flat, messenger version. The brand recently opened the Casa Valextra concept store in Kyoto, Japan, and plans to expand its retail footprint in Asia, adding its eighth store in China later this year, in a still undisclosed first tier city.

Lightness, crafty simplicity and colors were top of mind for Borsalino’s head of style Jacopo Politi as he developed a spring collection, stepping on the gas of its women’s lineup, an underdeveloped and, he said, potentially lucrative category for the storied hatmaker.

A Borsalino raffia hat from spring 2024.
A Borsalino raffia hat from spring 2024.

Raffia was employed in multiple ways, braided for a boho bucket hat, crocheted for a Parisienne-nodding beret and woven for a resort Panama style, its hem left unfinished. Elsewhere he worked jolts of bright colors, including fuchsia and highlighter orange, on the signature 120-gram Alessandria felt for feminine fedora hats and combined the same rich nuances in tie-dye nylon chine baseball hats.

Aptly titled “La Galleria,” or gallery in English, Borbonese’s spring collection was unveiled at Casa Flash Art, a multifunctional space inside a tony Milanese palazzo dedicated to championing contemporary art. Displayed juxtaposed to sculptures by leading Italian female artist Ambra Castagnetti, the lineup provided contemporary updates on the rich heritage of the Turin, Italy-based brand, courtesy of creatives Dorian Tarantini and Matteo Mena, who lingered over the brand’s contrasts and frictions.

Borbonese's "La Nido" hobo bag for spring 2024.
Borbonese’s “La Nido” hobo bag for spring 2024.

They resurrected the Luna hobo style launched in the late ‘60s for the “La Nido” range, in which crocheted, recycled nylon was overprinted with Borbonese’s signature OP pattern. Toying with the early Aughts’ look, the duo offered the “Capri” mini-sized shoulder bag in pastels, including baby pink.

Compared to fall’s experimental reinvention of everyday objects, Boyy’s spring lineup skewed toward a creative rejig of the signature styles on which founders Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri Kongman have built their brand’s foundation on, including the Buckle range, here expanded to include the Romeo top handle in the Epsom and Byron leathers as well as the use of a new croc-embossed leather for the Bobby 18 bag.

A Boyy croc-embossed top handle bag in the Buckle range.
A Boyy croc-embossed top handle bag in the Buckle range for spring 2024.

Although more commercial, it didn’t spare on flamboyant iterations, for example in the Wonton range crafted from Frazzle, a feather-like fabric with sprouting filaments that adorned a mini sack bag and matching slingbacks. Footwear is a growing category for the brand, which introduced the new terry cloth puffy slingbacks and flats.

As it expands its international footprint looking particularly at the U.S., Florentine leather goods brand Il Bisonte debuted the Malibù and Manhattan lineups for spring. While the former nods to the boho and laid-back lifestyle of the West Coast, with a satchel shoulder bag available in two sizes in a vegan tanned peach leather, the latter is a reinvention of the classic business styles, from the top handle briefcase to the shopping bag, known as “La Cartella” and a hybrid design to be used also on leisure time.

The hobo bag part of Il Bisonte's Malibù range for spring 2024.
The hobo bag part of Il Bisonte’s Malibù range for spring 2024.

Expanding its creative vocabulary beyond the core leather products, the new Marini lineup combined cotton and linen canvas with tan leather piping and details on crossbodies, bucket and tote bags.

Franzi is continuing the revamp process kickstarted in 2021 by further expanding its portfolio. The Italian brand, which was established by Felice Franzi in 1864 and became a pioneer in luxury luggage manufacturing thanks to its ultralight leather trunks, presented the “Luisa” collection, dedicated to Marquise Luisa Casati.

The range hinged on wallet-on-chain designs combining essential aesthetics and practicality via a bar with golden rivets, inner pockets and a removable metal chain allowing customers to wear the style crossbody or as a clutch. All designs were crafted from the “Cuoio Franzi” leather with organic texture and available in colors such as green, powder pink and baby blue, in addition to an iteration in metallic champagne lambskin. Franzi has also introduced its first selection of small leather goods to flank the collection.

Franzi, spring 2024
Franzi, spring 2024

With contributions by Sandra Salibian and Martino Carrera

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