As part of the active role Giorgio Armani has taken in supporting Italian fashion design, he launched a program in 2013 offering one lucky young designer per season the opportunity to show their latest collection at his theater during Milan Fashion Week.
Last season, he hosted Stella Jean, and, before that, Andrea Pompilio. This time around, it will be Mirko Fontana and Diego Marquez of Au Jour le Jour. We hadn't heard of Au Jour le Jour before today's announcement, but it might already be our new obsession.
The designers aim to combine the quality and sophistication associated with Italian fashion with a cool, quirky aesthetic. The clothes feel fresh and cute without being cutesy. The line, launched in 2010, is already sold in selective retailers like Yoox and Luisa via Roma. And apparently they've done much of their promotion thus far on social media. “I like the way in which today’s young designers seek to establish themselves, in using every kind of channel," said Armani. "I admire resourcefulness and decided to support it. Au jour le jour is a collection that the two designers Mirko and Diego were able to promote, above all, through social networks. I hope that my support is a good omen."
Au Jour reminds us a bit of MGSM, another Italian up-and-comer, sold by the likes of Opening Ceremony. While the old guard of Italian fashion is still making beautiful, relevant clothing, it doesn't always feel as accessible or wearable as what some up-and-coming New York and London designers are doing. But it seems like Italy is getting ready to have its own cool, emerging designer scene, thanks to a growing support system, including Armani's program, as well as the appointment of Jane Reeve to CEO of the Italian Chamber of Fashion (she is focused on making it easier for young designers to get exposure at MFW).
Less established designers are also getting support from influential editors and celebrities, thanks in part to their hiring of powerful PR companies. Anna Wintour attended buzzy designer Marco de Vincenzo's show last season, and celebrities have been wearing Fausto Puglisi left and right. Italy still doesn't have anything like the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund or Fashion Incubator, but we wouldn't be surprised to hear about something like that launching in the next couple of years.