In 2020, we find ourselves at a crossroads. There is the past on one side, with all the nostalgia and beauty of the golden years of pret-à-porter, which is hard to leave behind. And there is the future on the other, still in the making.
We had a conversation about it with Italo Rota, world-renowned architect, who investigated the new forms of exhibition, made a virtual journey into the future and talked about it with the scenographer Margherita Palli. Together they’ve been called to create the exhibition space of the International Women’s Pret-à-Porter Exhibition by Alta Gamma, presented in Milan last February. They imagined new spaces, new values, new cohabitations. We save what we can from the past, we fantasize about what the future holds for us.
Questions had arisen, timidly, a while ago already. That we consume too much is there for all to see, even for those who pretend not to. We are also aware of the waste of resources, of the emptying, if we want, of a system that loses the values it has always had and is transformed in a ever going process. It is not necessarily a negative vision: old values will be replaced by new ones, better suited to what we are experiencing now. The passage hurts. It always happens. But it also brings enthusiasm.
The current situation in which we find ourselves has made these questions difficult and the very basis of the media agenda of many, if not all, specialized channels. The Business of Fashion comes to wonder if, after all, we still need fashion. A rhetorical question that hits the point: we need fashion – economically but also humanly and culturally – it is simply not the fashion we are used to. It is something new. Traditional presentation methods cannot last long in this landscape either.
The Copenhagen Fashion Week was the first sign of a future that will involve fashion shows, fairs and events and will change fashion as we know it today, including products. The last two days of Milan Fashion Week have shown that change is imminent, for a will greater than our strength. As Mr. Rota summed up, “covid-19 simply confirms the pre covid-19 thoughts”. However, the effect is unexpected. “Everything we are experiencing is physical: the virus is physical, the solutions are physical, we live in a world made of materials and now we are dealing with it”. What will happen next is unknown.
TheOneMilano is a double project. On the one hand it implements artificial intelligence and digitalization to make the showcase accessible even from a distance; on the other, it takes inspiration from the local markets, from the encounter with the different and focuses on emotions and sensory involvement of the audience, the most human aspect of all. The two go hand in hand.
Italo Rota has been working with these issues for about two years in China. For him it is clear that past and future must coexist: “we must learn to make efficient all that we have achieved” and he adds “in particular, we must learn to exploit the surplus: there is a huge margin for improvement, and that’s where what we already have and the near future meet and collaborate “. With near future, Rota basically means two things: artificial intelligence and social architecture. “We want to build the metropolis starting from the body of people, who themselves become building material”. Re-humanization of the city.
We are then in a prolific moment: this crisis can develop our vision and lead us to use what already exists in the best possible way. The same argument can, and must, be valid for the fashion system. For Italo Rota it no longer makes sense to talk about globalization, on the contrary. We live in a small world and we all belong to the same species. Fashion will increasingly become something personal and intimate, an instant way to declare what we are to the world. “We are no longer in a mass logic, but we are seven billion individuals” and those who want to remain competitive in this new modern market will have to learn to give the individual the opportunity to express their individuality freely.
Words by Giulia Greco