MILAN — A sense of vertigo is how Luca Magliano summed up the past five years since launching his namesake label, which has been garnering increased attention internationally.
“It’s been a constant acceleration,” he said in an interview with WWD. “Not a fast one, because everything that happened, it has taken place in a diluted time and every goal we reached, we reached it at the right time; it’s never been sudden. So this sense of motion is what we’re looking back at with this upcoming show.”
To be staged on Wednesday, the event will mark a homecoming experience for the Bologna-native talent, as he is returning to Pitti Uomo after making his runway debut at the men’s trade show in 2018 with a collection dubbed “Wardrobe for a Man in Love.”
This time Magliano is back in Florence as guest designer of the edition, following in the footsteps of the likes of ERL’s Eli Russell Linnetz, Martine Rose, Grace Wales Bonner and Thebe Magugu, among others.
“In Florence there are people we know well and with whom we stayed in touch throughout these years, so returning to work with them is beautiful. To do a show in this context is different from any other, because it’s a four-handed production,” Magliano said. He praised organizers for having “worked with so many designers, all different one from the other, and know how to elaborate and develop concepts and to integrate them within the trade show.”
As reported, this year his showcase will be sandwiched between those from U.S.-based Todd Snyder on the opening night Tuesday at 5 p.m. CET at the Stazione Leopolda venue, and one by British brand S.S. Daley, helmed by Liverpool-native designer Steven Stokey-Daley on the last night, Thursday.
Magliano teased that one of his goals while developing his brand’s fall 2024 collection “was not to deny the context we would have found ourselves in, which refers to the world of classic [styles].” This translated into an exploration of fashion staples, from knitted twinsets to English-inspired tailoring seen through the Magliano filter, with a sense of fluidity and a worn-in and undone attitude. “Plus, a certain way of wearing them that we really like, such as jackets fully buttoned or with the lapels up,” he said.
To further explore these themes, the designer decided to “open a dialogue” and collaborate with heritage Italian brands.
“The first is Kiton, my dream collaboration for many years,” Magliano said. “I’ve always been fascinated by the identity of this powerful yet silent brand, which earned this specific position on the market and among customers by radically pursuing its values and respecting its goal: make luxury through processes. For a contemporary brand like ours, which obeys to other rules, that’s only possible by partnering with an expert,” the designer said. The result of the tie-up was a total look “that marks a milestone for Magliano” as it’s entirely handmade.
A second collaboration, with Italian hat specialist Borsalino, will add more accessories to the collection, which will be shown at the city’s Nelson Mandela Forum sports venue. The designer highlighted the location “has nothing to do with the Renaissance heritage of the city but it’s super popular and important for Florence” as it hosts many of its social events.
At the venue, a simple yet striking set will evoke the ups and downs of the brand’s evolution, “marking this sense of effort and vertigo on one hand and something fun, joyous and a little celebratory on the other,” teased the designer, keeping further details on the format under wraps.
“It’s pretty unusual: We don’t tend to have this self-celebratory attitude but we thought this was the right time to acknowledge that we managed to carve out our own space [in the industry],” he said. Yet the nostalgic and poetic vibe that has become a signature of the brand’s shows will still permeate the concept.
“It’s a mood that takes into consideration that we’re living a certain historic moment. We don’t want the show to be [disconnected] from the outside world. Our need is to connect our work and make our way into fashion without denying that fact that as people we’re involved in emotions that can be also tragic. And we need those, we want to carry them,” he said.
This sensibility speaks of his own persona: reserved and not very prone to media or Instagram exposure, Magliano makes for a different type of Millennial designer, shying away from the industry’s social agenda and matching his fashion’s rustic feel with a raw honesty in his conversation.
A fashion design graduate of Bologna’s Libera Università delle Arti, Magliano cut his teeth on Alessandro Dell’Acqua’s team in Milan prior to moving back to Bologna in 2013 to work with designer Manuela Arcari on the Ter et Bantine fashion line. In 2015, he decided to go solo and launched the I Was Naked independent women’s brand, which has since been discontinued. The following year, Arcari, who is also the president of Arcari e Co., offered him the chance to produce his own line under license and the Magliano brand was born.
The winner of the ninth edition of Vogue Italia’s talent contest Who Is on Next? Uomo in 2017, he unveiled a fall 2018 collection during Pitti Uomo, before joining the official Milan Men’s Fashion Week calendar.
His style and approach to fashion has evolved since. What started as bold collections filled with references to the ‘80s, different subcultures, “small-town boys” from his hometown and occasional tongue-in-cheek and irreverent prints matured into soulful, vintage-looking menswear imbued with charming tailoring and a fine sense of color.
“Our core team is the same since day one, but we’ve changed as people. At the beginning we were younger and felt the need to make ourselves heard, so to be loud and make some noise….Then we kept our codes but simply changed tone of voice, which became sharper and more essential,” the designer said.
Magliano pointed to the pandemic and the collections presented digitally as pivotal moments in which this shift intensified. “That’s when we learned to condense that bittersweet feeling that became [one of our traits] and has ties with our passion for cinema. Through the videos we learned to manage this approach, and when we returned to the physical format, it was important for us to stage shows that had a cinematographic value and invite guests in partaking in a situation a bit surreal and dreamlike,” the designer said. To this end, the 1983 drama film “Nostalghia” directed by Andrei Tarkovsky is among the references of the upcoming fall 2024 show.
Shining a light on this different dimension of the country, far from the glamorized versions or the usual “La Dolce Vita” postcard-like image, is what contributed to the increasing interest in the brand. Rather than displaying aspirational clothes and lifestyles, the designer shows the beauty in realism.
“But it’s kind of an irrational process. We manage to put together elements that can satisfy our memories without betraying them and turning them into something too mushy, but rather [into something] as beautiful, as fragile,” he said. “In all the people involved into this project there’s this kind of feeling, which evidently has to do with the environment: an Italy that is not all glossy but heart rending, that is a continuous province with wonderful nature and an industrial factory right in the middle of it. We experience this in a way that is as miserable as [it is] beautiful, and for us is extremely important to bring this [to the runway], because it’s something that is only ours [as Italians]….That conflict between a world that has rural roots rather than bourgeois, and a society imposed above it.”
The other milestone the designer mentioned was the establishment of Magliano Srl. At the end of 2022, the company sold a minority stake to fashion business accelerator Underscore District to support the next stage of its growth and “for the first time we channeled energies in future strategies and a business plan.” As a result of the deal, last year the brand, which is positioned in the affordable luxury segment, opened its online store and revamped the website, as well as focused on accessories and launched some collaborations.
He didn’t mention all the accolades he has received so far, including the Karl Lagerfeld Special Jury Prize at the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers last year.
“It’s undeniable that there are pros and cons of this increasing pressure,” Magliano said. “We wanted this attention. Now, to handle it, that’s something that doesn’t have to do that much with style but rather our ability of being mature. Will we make it? I don’t know. This season has been very hard from this point of view and we often sought refuge in simplification….We had a more minimal approach to ideas.”
In addition to international visibility, the LVMH Prize contest brought Magliano a grant of 200,000 euros, a one-year mentorship program from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton — and a dash of confusion, as he candidly admitted.
“I would like to leave that behind in 2023,” he said when asked about New Year’s resolutions. “We’ve always been determined but the past year came with some distractions, too. We’ve always been able to imagine the next step, and it’s not like we’re no longer doing that, but I’d like to return to be more concentrated and more focused on those mechanisms of this work that I enjoy and have always been gratifying for me,” he concluded.