Physical to Digital, Round Trip: MSGM’s Massimo Giorgetti on Switching Show Formats
MILAN — Judging by the fashion week craze mainly reprised here on February (and last week’s Salone del Mobile crowded extravaganza) it almost looks like nothing really happened in the past two years.
The mindful pledges of slowing the industry’s pace turned into a distant echo; the conscious considerations in planning local events were shooed away by the comeback in full force of itinerant shows around the globe, and the bullish predictions that had digital formats taking over every aspect of the business have been slowly swept under the carpet.
Yet for MSGM’s founder Massimo Giorgetti something has changed — or better, clicked. One of the best designers in Milan in interpreting the desires, attitude and energy of younger generations, Giorgetti found in the digital format a great avenue to fully express his creative vision.
Over the past two years, his videos acted as manifestos, crystallizing the sentiment of a precise moment. Take the first project, for men’s spring 2021, which channeled youth’s desire for carefreeness as the country was slowly coming out from the lockdown. Other successful experiments followed, including the “Autoritratto — Self Portrait of a Generation” poetic project hinged on a series of interviews realized for the women’s spring 2021 collection and the fall 2021 clip set in an empty Teatro Manzoni in Milan as a way to make cultural spots live even through the pandemic.
After returning IRL for womenswear, Giorgetti is now to reprise the physical format for menswear, but the lessons learned from the digital projects have remolded his creative approach.
“It’s funny how the perception of the same collection changes according to the format,” he said, also noting that now “when I prepare the collection I don’t only think which piece would go well with another but also if the garments would fit with the background.”
Yet the most challenging effort was not the first but the latest project in January, when Giorgetti had to forgo the runway show planned to unveil his men’s fall 2022 collection due to the sudden surge of Omicron cases in Italy.
“We had already planned everything: the location, the set-up, the DJ. It would have been in a former soap factory, with laser games and an underground vibe. Then we had to cancel it and retool it in a digital format in just three days, while working from home. At the end, the video resulted being more romantic, with a key focus on Gaetano Pesce’s pieces [of furniture] rather than clothes. It’s funny how on the runway, the collection would have looked completely different,” the designer said.
This is one of the reasons why Giorgetti can’t pick sides. Pragmatically, he said that budget-wise the formats are equal “but with the shows you have an instant feedback, which also vanishes rapidly,” whereas reactions to videos gradually pile up. “It’s true that being at a show and watching clothes live is different but it’s also true that you concentrate the work of six months in six minutes, while you can go back to videos whenever you want,” Giorgetti added.
“I also like the idea of handing my world in the hands of somebody else,” he continued, even if admitting he likes to be involved in every aspect of the process, including editing. This holistic approach further expanded the pool of sources of inspiration for him. If Giorgetti was already strong in music and art references, the digital formats further cemented his ties with the world of cinema and TV series.
For one, the first pandemic project in 2020 nodded to the “Skam Italia” teen drama to the point it also included one of its actors. Dubbed “Non so dove ma insieme,” or “I don’t know where but together” in English, the video followed the young cast during a carefree summer’s day around Milan and elicited in the audience “emotions and reactions exceeding any expectation,” Giorgetti said.
“It also made for a little win for me: We reached many people that had been a little snobbish towards the brand and that understood there’s actually a message behind it — something that maybe through runway shows they didn’t perceive,” the designer said. “Digital formats creates empathy and I think that’s what is needed today.”
He now aims to channel the same feeling with the physical runway show on Saturday. Once again, a TV series came in handy for the project. “Earlier this year, I watched ‘White Lotus’ and I completely went crazy for the soundtrack,” Giorgetti said. The tropical island set-up of the HBO show will additionally mirror the inspiration behind the collection, which is set to align with the women’s resort 2023 lineup unveiled earlier this month.
Hibiscus motifs and tropical prints will mark the looks, while more daring techniques will define knitwear. The collection will also focus on eco-conscious items, including garments in organic cotton and new, entirely sustainable sneakers.
The show will be staged outside the headquarters of Italian telecommunication company Fastweb, which stands next to Fondazione Prada in Milan’s Southern area. The Brutalist architecture of the building is flanked by an ornamental pool that will help the designer recreate an imaginary MSGM dream island in town.
An artwork commissioned by Fastweb spelling “Tu sei il futuro,” or “You are the future” in English, further convinced Giorgetti this was the right place for the men’s physical comeback.