Sixteen years ago, I attended the IdeaBiella cloth fair in Cernobbio on Lake Como. Showcasing the best mills of the Biella region, it was an incredibly elegant affair that attracted the world’s top designers and buyers. Of course, back then there was no social media to capture the occasion (photography was banned anyway) but I recall the show stopping for lunch and everyone strolling to the nearby Villa Erba for an excellent leisurely meal with the attendees dressed in beautifully tailored suits that would knock spots off the Pitti peacocks.
When the show moved to Milan over ten years ago it was greeted with dismay but combining the show with Shirt Avenue and Moda to create Milano Unica has ensured its survival. Now in its 25th season it is a commercial success with growth in both the number of exhibitors and visitors. It’s also a celebration of the world’s best textiles with top UK mills such as Dormeuil, Fox Brothers and Marling & Evans exhibiting alongside Loro Piana, Ermenegildo Zegna and Guabello.
The Vitale Barberis Canonico stand is always inspiring and this season they had an engaging range of displays inspired by the animal drawings of Albertus Seba. As “the designer behind the designer”, VBC understands the needs of the world’s best artisans and creates fabrics with integrity and authenticity. Their ‘21 micron’ wool champions more robust cloths and heavier weights. This season it’s realised in a new suiting quality combining both worsted and woollen yarns to create three dimensional textures. In both traditional and modern designs, it is a surefire hit.
Cerruti had a strong jacket game as Sales Director Umberto Paccotto believes, “The jacket is the new formal” with many soft knitted effects and a pure cashmere denim that perfectly captures the current mood in luxury menswear. Charles Clayton, the Yorkshire mill and weaver of rare fibres, was showcasing a 4-ply super 160s worsted that would make a fine luxury travel blazer. They have also been innovating with coarser count yarns but made with finer microns to create cloths with character and depth. I am a fan of this style of weaving but understand it can often be difficult to relay this message to the consumer. I describe it as making a cheeseburger with fillet steak and a vintage Parmigiano. They probably wouldn’t. Their sister mill, William Halstead, is justly famous for their kid mohairs but is also offering a substantial 580g ‘double hopsack’ that is just screaming to be tailored into a peacoat.