There’s New York Fashion Week… and then there’s Milan Fashion Week! Call it our weakness for Italy, but we have to say our favorite is the Italian fashion week, which takes place twice a year in Milan.
During Milan Fashion Week, the city’s cobblestoned streets turn into veritable catwalks, filled with VIPs and fashion lovers from all over the globe. And fashion shows go on pretty much non-stop, so there’s plenty of chance to get up close and personal with your favorite designers.
Fashion Week 2013 kicks off next week. Here’s our guide to Milan Fashion Week!
What is Milan Fashion Week?
Milan Fashion Week for the upcoming Spring/Summer 2014 collection starts Wednesday, September 18th. It includes 132 collections and 74 fashion shows! Famous participants include Italian and international designers like Gucci, Prada, Versace, Moschino, as well as emerging designers. Some even have two shows each!
The week gives fashion houses an idea of how much of the collection should be reproduced for sale. More importantly, the designs that walk down the runway will dictate the fashion world’s upcoming trends.
It’s a fabulous occasion for designers to show their collections to journalists and buyers, who then review the collection and start placing orders for their boutiques and stores. Milan’s fashion week is one of the most important, but similar events are held in New York, London, Milan and Paris.
Where do the fashion shows take place?
Aside from the standard studios and showrooms, many of Milan’s fashion shows are held in historic, outdoor landmarks—like the Piazza Duomo (Milan’s central square and home to the city’s cathedral), the courtyard of the Castello Sforzesco (a 15th-century castle), and the Arco della Pace (triumphal arch located in Parco Sempione).
These outdoor venues offer more space, appreciation of the city’s history, and the opportunity for the public to be a part of the show.
You can find a complete list of the schedule and locations for Milan Fashion Week on Camera Nazionale della Moda‘s Fashion Week calendar.
When is Fashion Week?
It’s different for men’s versus women’s fashion week. The women Spring/Summer fashion shows take place every September, and Fall/Winter in February. (These shows are always a season ahead, so the Spring/Summer 2014 collections are actually shown in September 2013, in order to get an idea of the demand for the collection for sale in stores).
Men’s collections are shown in January (Fall/Winter) and June (Spring/Summer). Dates vary by year, so be sure to check Camera Nazionale della Moda’s calendar before planning your trip!
Individual shows usually take place every hour, and range from 5 to 30 minutes long.
If I’m not in the fashion industry, can I still get into the shows?
Not all of them, as most fashion shows are invite-only. But many fashionistas can be found waiting outside the shows or events to get a sneak peak. Plus, there are always specific events, like in the outdoor places we mentioned earlier, that are free and open to the public.
Meanwhile, many after-parties and events are open to the public, with free pre-registration. Didn’t RSVP? Dress your best and show up anyway. You might just make your way onto the list!
How far in advance should I book my trip to Milan if I want to attend Fashion Week?
As far in advance as possible. In fact, because of the crowds, we suggest reserving hotels and transportation months ahead of time to secure your tickets and accommodation; you can find something closer to the date, but prices reach exorbitant rates.
I’m heading to Milan next week. What’s the first thing I should do?
Kick Fashion Week off with Vogue’s annual VFNO on September 17th (Vogue’s Fashion Night Out, also taking place in Florence on September 12th). Even if you don’t plan on attending a single fashion show, walking around the participating stores—which throw parties, often with DJs and complimentary refreshments—will give you a great feel for Fashion Week’s energy… not to mention the chance for some celebrity sightings!
Have you ever attended a Fashion Week before? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!