Milan Fashion Week | Five Days Leading Up to a Show: Day 1

Arrivo a Milano selfie

words by JULIA VON BOEHM • edited by DIANDRA BARSALOU MITCHELL fashion week

A look into the 5 days leading up to a Milan Fashion Week Show with Ermanno Scervino. But first, arriving in Italy.


Milan Fashion Week will be a different type of diary. While I hope I may have time to sneak in a show or two, my main focus is the upcoming Ermanno Scervino runway presentation, for which I am both consultant and stylist. I deeply love and respect Ermanno, as he has been in fashion design since the days of Versace and all the original greats, but is always open to hearing and seeing things from a different perspective. He is an incredibly smart and talented man whose designs are always a wonderful representation of a goal that often gets forgotten nowadays— the clothes must make a woman look her absolute best, and flatter the figure first and foremost. We do four stories each year for Fall/Winter, Spring/Summer, Pre-Fall, and resort. After working remotely and flying back and forth on quick monthly trips, tomorrow is the first day of no return, so to speak. We will be diving into racks of newly constructed looks and beginning to weave into reality the narrative that we have been planning, creating, and working on for Milan Fashion Week for months. But first, I must arrive in Italy.

Getting to Florence (where Ermanno Scervino is headquartered), sanely and safely is something I have learned by trial. The best route I have figured out so far, is that no one should ever land in Florence unless they enjoy the idea (thrill perhaps?) of a too-short landing strip that has not been updated, and the chance of being rerouted to Bologna at the slightest breeze. The workaround for this, and a great way to recoup and avoid jet-lag, is to fly into Milan for a night. My favorite airline at the moment is Emirates, it feels like being in a spa. Everything in the cabin is accented in mahogany wood like a luxury automobile, and the lighting is warm and welcoming. The bar in the back of the plane tops the experience off as this is fantastic when you just want a glass of wine instead of a whole dinner, you can get it immediately and fall to sleep. My go-to spot upon arrival in Milan is Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone, a cafe and restaurant with a beautiful courtyard in the fashion district that has been family owned since 1957. Last night, I stayed at the Grand Hotel Et De Milan, a 150 year old hotel near La Scala built in the gothic revival style with fantastic ties to political, musical, cinema, and fashion history. It is always preferable to stay in the palatial hotel, have an excellent room service, and get up early in the morning to catch the first train to Florence. The Frecciarossa is always on time, has a very luxurious first coach which provides breakfast, lunch and dinner, and comfortable seating to enjoy the views or get some work done.

Now that I am in Florence, and we have less than a week to show day, things get exciting because the looks are solidified, and aside from minimal adjustments, it's go time. From New York, once we had the story and direction, I was able to start to casting the fit models who will help us construct the actual garments for each look. I view their portfolios and decide by knowing what type of woman will be bringing the outfit to life, who she is and who she could be to the collection based on her portfolio, and of course, the small details like hairstyle, how she wears clothing, and her vibe— whether it’s androgynous, girl-next-door, mysterious etc. Now, the story has been set, and the creative narrative starts to come to life as we will see it on the runway. Tomorrow will be the first day working with the models, who are a part of the creative process in that they try the garments on so we can see how they move and go to together, where we need to adjust, how certain silhouettes fall and which ones complement each other, etc. The first fittings are like a very long play date, when we create looks and test new combinations. We try not to stay later than 11pm, since there are likely very late hours that sometimes mean no sleep closer to the show.

The best part, is that the first day is really when Ermanno and I get to make our creative languages work together and start to manifest the show— both literally and figuratively, as I learned Italian by working with my clients to ensure we could communicate as creatively and comfortable as possible, something I am grateful for as an opportunity to learn a new language is always welcome and expands the mind. What I most enjoy about my working relationship with Ermanno, is that it always feels like an exchange of learning and inspiration.

Signing off until tomorrow xx