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  • Writer's pictureJurnee Holland

Celebrating Black Talent in Fashion: "We are Made in Italy" Brings Diversity to Milan Fashion Week

In case you haven't noticed before, Black designer representation at Milan Fashion Week tends to be seriously lacking. Unfortunately, Milan showcases probably the least amount of collections by Black designers of any other major fashion capital. However, this is definitely not due to a shortage of Black talent in Milan, thus this continues to be a major flaw for Milan Fashion Week. But, after doing some digging we managed to uncover a shining light on the MFW calendar - the "We are Made in Italy" digital event.

The "We are made in Italy" digital event is relatively new, having just completed its third season with the Spring 22 presentation. The event is hosted by the Black Lives Matter in Fashion Collective, a collective who's goal is to highlight the Black designers who's roles in and contributions to the fashion industry are typically underrepresented in the image of Milanese fashion. Industry members behind the collective include Stella Jean, Edward Buchanan, and Michelle Francine Ngonmo.

For its Spring 2022 presentation, the "We are Made in Italy" event looked a little bit different - showcasing an all-female group of five fashion designers who are based out of Italy but have roots all over the world. This time the designers included not only Black creatives but creatives from countries including India and Morocco. So, in addition to celebrating the work of Black designers on the Italian frontier, the event went further to highlight even more designers of color who are just as invaluable to the industry. The members of the Black Lives Matter in Fashion Collective not only give the designers featured in each season's event a platform to showcase their new collections, but they also take them under their wing and serve as mentors.

Keep scrolling to discover the amazingly talented designers featured in this season's "We are Made in Italy" event!

Judith Borsetto, Owner of Judith Saint Germain

Borsetto is a designer with a Haitian background who specializes in stylistic consultancy as well as designing women's accessories. All of her footwear is manufactured locally in Italy with high quality Italian fabrics. The color palette of her Spring 2022 collection referenced the colors of her native Haitian flag. The shoes are unique, bold, and playful. Key features include nontraditional heel shapes, oversized bows, and exposed stitching.

Sheetal Shah, Owner of her Namesake Label

Shah is originally from India, where she first studied fashion with a focus in textile design. Upon receiving an internship in Italy, she dove deeper into her textile design career. Shah's Spring 2022 collection included recycled materials, and made references to her Indian background through the use of specific shantung and silks. The womenswear collection had a very 'boyish' feel and showed an exploration of androgynous dress. The use of denim in tailored looks gave the collection an eclectic yet polished feel.

Nyny Ryke Goungou, Owner of her Namesake Label

Goungou is originally from Togo, a country of West Africa, and received her degree in fashion and textiles in Milan before continuing to study in Paris as well, receiving a masters in lingerie-making and corsetry. Her Spring 2022 collection was titled "Ethical Chic" for its focus on sustainable fabrics and production techniques native to her home country. She even worked her own patented textile into the collection. The silhouettes though were more of a reference to Goungou's Japanese heritage with Kimono-style dresses. The collection was exciting and full of textural stimulation. The mixture of West African and Japanese elements delivered a collection rich in unique design techniques.

Romy Calzado Celda, Owner of her Namesake Label

Celda, originally from Cuba, now has her fashion label based out of Italy and also teaches at the Burgio Fashion Institute. She dove into advanced textile technologies for her Spring 2022 collection, and worked with a nanotechnology company in Italy to develop the graphene-coated denim used throughout her designs. The collection showed a sophisticated use of bright color and print.

Zineb Hazim, Owner of her Namesake Label

Originally from Morocco, Hazim started her own fashion label in order to fill a gap in the industry of clothing tailored toward Muslim women. The collection combined a more traditional Prince of Wales motif with pops of neon colors, making the clothes professional and sophisticated but still exciting and playful at the same time. High-waisted trousers were enhanced with pleated ruffles, and blouses featured exaggerated long point collars in bright colors and shimmery fabrics.


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