Maximilian Davis’ Debut Collection for Ferragamo Makes a Play for Gen Z

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Maximilian Davis is 27 years old and he is now at the helm of Ferragamo, an Italian luxury house with a long heritage of leather goods and craftsmanship. He’s only been designing for a few years, but that’s not to say he lacks talent. He is an excellent tailor and studied at London College of Fashion, after which he became Grace Wales Bonners’ assistant. He launched his own label in 2020, and has been building a name for himself in the industry to the point where he had to drop out of the LVMH Prize’s ‘Young Designer Competition’ in order to accept the appointment to Ferragamo. This is the kind of buzz worthy moment that whets the fashion appetite and builds anticipation around a collection.

The show was off to an auspicious start as we gathered in an enormous open-air square at Corso Venezia 11 that had been upholstered in a ruddy red hue, scattered with matching sustainable sand. Other houses like Bottega (parakeet green) and Valentino (‘PP’ pink) have made a splash with single colorways at their shows; Ferragamo looks to be planting its flag in rust red. A thudding soundtrack that mixed tribal beats with sonorous electronica poured from speakers at the center of the square as the first models came out wearing classic trench coats. Then a slinky optic white body suit appeared, and Ferragamo’s pivot to a more youthful, sexier look was revealed. 

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Courting a younger generation has been crucial for the brand’s growth, and has been a significant factor in its recent revenue increase in the first half of 2022. Davis amplified the Gen Z-centric messaging. Skintight bodysuits were styled with belts that featured oversized pouch bags, mini skirts were barely more than a strip of fabric, matching separates were made in a neoteric wet-look vinyl fabric, and loose slip dresses were decorated with subset ombre prints (inspired by Rachel Harrison’s Sunset Series). There were also hooded tunics, Grecian-draped mini dresses, moto jackets, and leather hot pants in the mix. It was predominantly body-baring and body-conscious, but there were also some beautifully tailored suits that kept classic elements in balance with the rest.

The sex appeal of the show came from a surprising reference. The show notes declared that the crystalline sparkling looks were inspired by shoes that the founding designer, Salvatore Ferragamo, once gifted Marilyn Monroe. Another key detail came from the technical fabrics, that were heat-reactive, giving a dégradé look to the looks. Bags also signaled a change of direction, coming in enormous proportions and punctured with cut-outs. Even the classic Ferragamo logo has gotten a makeover, moving away from the signature cursive to a more minimal look.

The front row acolytes who came out for Davis’s debut were the kind of style stars that Gen Z are crazy for. Chaeyoung of the K-Pop band TWICE sat next to Kelala. Both caused a frenzy outside of the venue when they entered. Under Davis’s assured direction, Ferragamo has made a clear pivot. We can’t wait to see what happens next.

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