The last time I was in Italy was February 2020 — the exact week Covid began breaking out in the north of the country, in an area called Lombardy, which, to my surprise, turned out to be the exact location of Milan Fashion Week. Unaware of how serious the pandemic would turn out to be, I arrived in the city and went straight to the Gucci show, which made headlines across the world due to the incredible set that depicted the brand’s ateliers putting the final touches on model’s looks in real-time. I almost died when I arrived home afterward to find a ticket to the week’s hottest event, the Versace show (this was right after Jennifer Lopez’s internet-breaking Grammys dress revival) and proceeded to eat pasta for every meal — a legal requirement when in Italy.
About midway through the week, talk of the virus began picking up among attendees and masks started appearing on the underground for the first time.
As I zoomed out on a map, I realized how close we were to the epicenter and for the first time, started mildly freaking out. Shows were soon canceled and the world shut down. Pharmacies put up signs saying face masks were “finito tutti.” Italy battled a severe outbreak, which cost millions of their jobs and thousands their lives.
Over 18 months later, the capital city of fashion finally reopened, welcoming editors, stylists, models and designers back for the first time since the outbreak of Covid-19 sent the country, then the world, into disarray. Last week, I landed to see blue skies and cobblestone streets. People walking with gelato and focaccia in hand. At the coffee shop, waiters spoke about how happy they were to see the city come alive again.
There was a buzz in the air. It felt as though the world was finally healing.
I checked into my hotel and began planning out the week: first up was Fendi — a new debut show for Milan Fashion Week after Gucci decided to cut back on its yearly presentations in a bid to reduce waste. Then Jil Sander and Roberto Cavalli followed up in the afternoon, the latter of which is having a huge revival thanks to the current ‘90s and Y2K-era trends.
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In fact, for a dinner with Sunday Riley — Milan Fashion Week’s first-ever official skincare partner — the next evening, I wore a vintage Cavalli dress featuring butterfly print and ruched detailing, which I found on Vestiaire Collective (where I spend all of my time, when not on Instagram!).
The next day kicked off with Max Mara, where coffee and mini croissants were provided and where new redhead Gigi Hadid closed the runway. Then it was onto Boss x Russell Athletica, where attendees were taken to their seats at the Kennedy Sports Centre via a golf caddy to find the city’s baseball team faux playing a game mid-pitch.
Mascots, cheerleaders and a marching band — not to mention the popcorn, hot dogs and foam fingers — made the event a sensory overload with a commentator speaking over the loudspeaker the entire runway performance. On the backstage of this show, Sunday Riley’s team of experts worked their magic on the models’ faces (they also prepared models for Maryling Milano, MSGM, Budapest Select and Milano Moda Graduate shows). “We prepped the skin of the models by cleansing with Ceramic Slip and Blue Moon, which pulls dirt and impurities up and out of the skin while pulling in critical hydration. Then misting with Pink Drink, a peptide-infused treatment resurfaces, balances, and firms the look of the skin while supporting the natural microbiome. Next, we applied Good Genes, an all-in-one AHA infused brightening treatment mask, designed to remove
dull-looking, pore-clogging dead skin while plumping the look of fine lines and wrinkles. And then finished with Auto Correct, rejuvenating caffeine enriched eye treatment that will awaken tired-looking eyes. Skin is left with a natural-looking radiance that is bound to steal the show”, explains Craig Starling, Education and Training Manager at Sunday Riley.
Also of note was Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid’s BFF, Fai Khadra, sitting (very) pretty in the front row.
Though I was silly and didn’t request a ticket for the show, Blumarine was a highlight of the day and I lapped up all of the incredible looks via Instagram while getting ready for a dinner of pasta and wine with Sunday Riley at the iconic restaurant Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone, before heading to The Attico’s late-night party around the corner.
Friday started off slowly after one too many wines the night before but after a few espressos and a croissant we were back in business and ready for Prada and Versace, where Dua Lipa — my favorite woman — surprised guests by both opening and closing the show in her runway debut.
Then it was onto Sunday Riley’s cocktail event at The Roof Milano — a restaurant with 360-degree views of the city — where the margaritas were flowing and so too were the skincare tips: after years of avoiding vitamin C due to thinking it’s bad for my hormonal acne, I was informed that I was, in fact, completely wrong.
After getting a Sunday Riley facial at the very same hotel Dua was staying at the next day, where fans and paparazzi were lined up outside for hours, I’ve since begun using the C.E.O Brightening serum. No joke, I don’t know how I ever lived without it. The Auto Correct Brightening and Depuffing eye cream also deserves an honorable mention for how much it has saved my very tired eyes (these bags unfortunately aren’t Chanel).
At 8 pm that night, the Marni show began. Prior to the day, every guest was invited for a fitting where they were given their own Marni outfit to wear on the night, making the event an immersive experience — and one of the most highly anticipated shows of the season. Instead of using regular models, the brand enlisted artists, creatives, and muses with Dev Hynes on musical production, Mykki Blanco doing a spoken word performance, and singer Zsela performing. I think the way Marni approached its show will become essential if brands want to keep people’s attention, especially when so many are revaluating the way the fashion industry should work post-pandemic.
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Afterward, it was straight to the opening of the Gucci Vault, before I made my way to a Marni after-party and freaked out over my close proximity to my favorite model, Paloma Essler.
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The next day, fashion week was supposed to be over, but Donatella Versace had something else in mind. The designer sent a select few special guests a save the date for Sunday night where she debuted a surprise (but much-rumored and whispered about) collaboration with Kim Jones’ Fendi. Dua Lipa was back, so too was Gigi Hadid. And with them, Milan Fashion Week is thankfully well and truly back too.
Here’s what you’ll need if you want to try backstage Sunday Riley facial at home:
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