The Milan Fashion Week (Women’s) Fall-Winter 2019 season kicked off in a somber mood with the news of Karl Legerfeld’s demise. The opening show by Benetton started with an homage to the late designer by their artistic director Jean-Charles De Castelbajac, who unleashed a riot of merry colours on the runway with the Rainbow Machine. This is United Colors of Benetton’s first ever Milan Fashion Week runway show, a tribute to industrial production, innovation and color.
“Rainbow” represents a vision shared by Luciano Benetton and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. “Luciano and I are all about color”, says the French designer, who explains that the collection’s palette will be mainly based on the primary colors of the rainbow – yellow, red, green, blue – with some touches of black.
“Machine” is a tribute to Benetton’s great industrial tradition, its know-how and its one-of-a kind technological expertise. The runway will feature actual knitting machines in a set with enormous close-ups of products photographed by Oliviero Toscani.
UCB has chosen to stage a show with ideas that represent only a part of its seasonal production, but which embody the new creative direction the brand is taking. A disciplined, pared down fashion that reprises some of the iconic pieces that are in every fashion lover’s wardrobe.
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They are “updated basics”, designed by JCDC, who identified the strongest characteristics of the Benetton DNA and enhanced them to create a collection that is both up to date and conceptual, while remaining deeply rooted in the brand’s heritage. The collection pays homage to original features of the brand – like the logo, the color element (particularly green), garment-dyed knitwear and a certain sporty, easy chic attitude – that, over the past 30 years, have made fashion history.
It is a style that is extremely strong in terms of identity, which is not surprising considering how identity has always been fertile ground for reflection for UCB. Today, when all the brands embrace the concept of inclusion, Benetton stands out for its pioneering spirit.
The electro-industrial soundtrack created for the occasion by Michel Gaubert, one of the world’s most important contemporary sound designers, is a clear tribute to the Rainbow Machine.