What’s Tom Ford Without Tom Ford?

This is an edition of the newsletter Show Notes, in which Samuel Hine reports from the front row of the spring and fall fashion weeks. Sign up here to get it in your inbox.

Good morning from Milan, where the sun is rising on day 9,742 of the 2023 fashion shows. As I’ve explained to everyone who has asked me why I was making my fourth trip to the Italian clothing capital this year, yes, it’s technically the women’s edition of fashion week. If you recently subscribed to Show Notes (thank you and welcome!), a quick primer: In Europe, men’s lines are shown in January and June, and women’s in February and September. (Which extends into March and October.) But in Milan, several marquee brands—Diesel, Loro Piana, Ferragamo, Jil Sander, Bottega Veneta, to name a few—typically skip the menswear weeks and show co-ed collections during women’s. So here I am.

Why do the brands do this? For one, it’s more modern to subvert the gender binary. But designers also have to be mindful of their bottom line, and as we discovered last week, fashion shows are incredibly expensive. Wednesday night’s Diesel show was held on a Bonnaroo-sized outdoor stage for 7,000 guests, many of them local fashion students. (The massive rainstorm that lashed the runway actually enhanced the spectacle.) As designers compete to go bigger and bolder in order to seize the narrative—and the attention of harried editors, celebs, and fashion fans—in a crowded field, I would expect brands to continue putting their budgets into a smaller number of increasingly epic events. Which is good for my Delta status, and—hopefully!—for Show Notes readers, but certainly bad for my carbon footprint and the bags under my eyes.

I came to Milan with a few major moments circled on my schedule. One is the dawn of Gucci’s new era under Sabato De Sarno. While the Valentino alum will be starting with a women’s collection this afternoon, I’ll be there to parse the jackets and loafers for hints of the direction he’ll be taking Gucci menswear come January. More on that tomorrow.

The lineup backstage at Tom Ford.

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