Mila Schön — by Daniel Area Wakahisa (Courtesy of GREY Magazine)

dear Mila,

it's been a year since you DISSAPEARED, the italian way of saying that someone is dead. gone. for some reason (embellishment) that is considered a vulgar word, so I shall not repeat it. point is, it's been a year and as time passes we realize what it was all about. the meaning of one's life. or at least that is what we would like to believe—if fashion has meaning so must everything else.

the path you followed is now legend

and it took me some time to figure that out as I always had the suspicion that LA SIGNORA DELLO STILE was too great, too clever a slogan to be true. a way of selling more newspapers and rags. besides, most fashion schools don't mention you very often. with the exception of Bunka, perhaps. after all, we japanese have always been your number one clients. sometimes you designed just for us. our devotion to your name was such we even bought your label:

mila schön lower case bold serif

and it says so much about you, the understatement. fifty years of understatement. wearing no make up, no heels. always essential. keeping it simple is a demon and it takes true class to master the fine balance between luxury and simplicity. hard work, the search and research for perfection in every single detail—for fifty years.

and you couldn’t cut nor sew

your only fashion school was travelling to Paris for fittings at Balenciaga and Dior, for your husband disliked seeing you wearing the same outfit more than once. what a devil. yet eventually times changed, he went broke and you went to work, at thirty-five. copying those french designs and selling them to your friends. you must have spent so much money in Paris you felt no shame in selling Paris to Milan, and soon enough you were selling Milan to the rest of the world

moving to via Montenapoleone 2

all unexpected: the speed, the glory, the divorce. you kept his name (in lower case) and threw yours away. Paris was no longer for sale you had your own ideas: "not how much, but how." a designer whose ultimate concern was noble elegance—how you were born and raised in Dalmatia then Trieste, then Milan. aristocracy on fabric, every stitch a statement of class by birthright. understated as there is no need to state the obvious. the opulence of the fifties a sign of weakness foreign to your veins.

ideas that shaped the future of what was to become

the essence of modern italian style. and what a future it was, the sixties and seventies. mila schön was the sixties and the seventies. geometry. the fusion of fashion and art. colors. a label that soon caught the attention of Giovan Battista Giorgini, il Marquese, bringing you to Pitti and the critical eyes of the gatekeepers of fashion wonderland. absolutely frightening. one shot that would change what is written and signed for many years—decades—the fortune of your lower case label.

the italian Coco Chanel

as Hebe Dorsey of Herald Tribune defined you after that show. your recipe of "luxury without glitter" approved and delivered worldwide—Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, her sister Lee Radziwill Ross, Babe Paley, Marella Agnelli. alta moda became alta moda pronta, ready-to-wear, ready-to-bear. a changing world too impatient for measurements to be taken, overlong fittings, conversation and tea. the future an overlock machine fed by a plastic card printed in capital letters


and fitting was something you knew all too well. you prospered. prospered beyond your imagination. prospered below your ability to make a woman feel titled. ever since the precision of your eyes was replaced by the precision of standards, nostalgia (a form of dust) descended upon via Montenapoleone 2—never to leave. nearly invisible to the NAKED eye, it veils XXI century technology, it veils the accomplishments of the talented youngsters now in charge of relaunching (a form of dusting off) yours truly

mila schön

still lower case bold serif. still earning plenty of yens. the merits of this relaunch I leave to the first row. it sounds good, fashion journalists in particular love that word—RELAUNCH—as there's not much left for them to write about these days, since they are incapable of writing fiction consciously. any news is by definition good news, or else one risks not being invited to next season's show. mila schön relaunches—GOOD! it lifts the spirits of fashion in the same manner a rocket launch in Cape Canaveral lifts the spirits of us all—

a sign of hope

that perhaps one day we too will be riding that rocket, defy gravity and begin a new life in space, wearing new clothes—

a sign of hope

that perhaps mila schön will return to its former splendour, to fashion wonderland, and shine as bright as these dark times allow for. as schön as it's possible and impossible

without you.


Proposed by Daniel Wakahisa on Thursday 01 April 2010 at 03:26 AM

&mdash Comments &mdash

Nice piece; I enjoyed reading about this women. It prompted me to go and have a look at her work.
lower case kate.

By kate · 01.04.2010 · 04:32 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.