By: Jillian McCarthy, BA, 2019
Some little girls, like me, grow up playing with dolls and obsessing over which article of clothing and accessory that the doll should don. They dream of clothes, the silky fabrics, the sparkly details, and of design. They pay particular attention to the beauty of all things- whether it’s in art, architecture, or fashion. These little girls lust over the glamour, suspense, and the allure of fashion. These early beginnings set the stage for something I could only dream of attending- Milano Fashion Week.
This past week I attended Milano Fashion Week (Feb 19-25 2019) as a volunteer for Italian fashion designer, professor, and creative genius Francesca Liberatore. Liberatore grew up in Rome, Italy’s capital and the epicenter of culture, life, love, and art, and pursued her degree at prestigious design school Central Saint Martins in London, England. From there Liberatore worked all over Europe- from Amsterdam, Paris, and Milan before winning the Next Generation competition in 2009 which catapulted her into Milan’s famed fashion scene and earning her a spot in fashion week. Liberatore has since continued to design her own collections and display her creative projects around the world from Saint Petersburg to Kiev to Beijing, and is constantly reinventing herself and showcasing her talents around the world. At the moment she also teaches at an array of famous design schools in Milan including NABA and Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. Liberatore’s talent is endless, and her ‘Made in Italy’ emphasis is apparent through her fantastic attention to detail, timeless silhouettes, and sublime choice of fabrics.
I volunteered with Liberatore with fellow Marist Fashion Abroad students – Eleanor Greene, Theresa Downes, Ines Soares, and Kristin Sikora. We began our exciting week on Sunday when we took the train to Milan to assist with model casting in Milan’s Chinatown district with a variety of other volunteers for Liberatore that ranged from longtime friends and supporters to her very own fashion design students. The vibe was energetic, contagious, and upbeat. Everyone was involved and everyone was thrilled to be there. Marist was tasked with social media and we covered the ground by taking photos and videos of everything that day. We even got a sneak peak at the collection and talked with Francesca about our studies and her inspiration for the collection that was to be showcased in Piazza del Duomo the next Friday in the very heart of Milan.
After the model casting, Marist returned to class for Monday and Tuesday and then hopped right back on the Italo express train on Wednesday night so we could be back at Liberatore’s setup in Chinatown early Thursday morning. We spent the day Thursday again assisting with social media, constructing the backstage board with all of the looks, and running errands around the entire city of Milan to collect the board, accessories for the models, and even a pinata for the afterparty celebration. We remained with show prep until it was dark and made our way home only after devouring freshly made bao buns in Chinatown before the show the next day. Even though Liberatore’s show was scheduled at 1.15 pm the next afternoon, we all were exhausted and excited for the events that lay ahead.
We all met up early the next morning for some smoothies in Piazza del Duomo before making our way over to the show’s space that was just steps from Milan’s grand, Gothic cathedral. We stepped into space with our bright blue badges and were completely in awe of the gorgeous space and the sheer number of people dressed in black buzzing around doing makeup, prepping each look, and ushering in photographers and journalists. It was a beautiful sunny day, and everyone’s spirits were high as we quickly jumped in to take photos, help place the right shoes with each look, and get organized. Liberatore’s theme for her AW 19/20 collection was inspired by the 50th-anniversary invitation of ‘Leika’ and was modeled after a galactic theme. The collection was brilliant, fun, and bright. It reflected Liberatore’s creativity and was, in some ways, a spoof of her own rise to success in the fashion realm. It was spectacular to be behind the scenes of fashion week and to watch a show come together from start to finish with a team of brilliant and passionate fashion minds. We were lucky to be on the social media team and have the ability to photograph every minute of the process from the model casting to hair and makeup to the actual catwalk itself. It is a special opportunity to go to fashion week anywhere in the world, but even more so in Italy where the craftsmanship, taste, and attention to detail are unparalleled. Thank you Milano and thank you Francesca for the most incredible experience! Until next time…