Vote 2020 graphic
Everything you need to know about and expect during
the most important election of our lifetimes

Milan In The '80s: "It Was A Nonstop Party That Soon Became A Bloodbath"

Illustration for article titled Milan In The 80s: It Was A Nonstop Party That Soon Became A Bloodbath

Vice has an interview with Renata Molho, who was a stylist and writer in Milan in the 1980s, a wild time known as Milano da bere or "drinking Milan." Ms. Molho describes an era in which the fashion industry was full of creative people and fresh ideas. Magazine editors didn't cave to the pressure of advertisers; they wrote about the designers, the styles, the fashions that they actually found exciting. "Just think about the power that press offices have today," Ms. Molho says. "They probably dictate 80 percent of what is written. It wasn't so in the '80s. Fashion magazines were made by individuals with taste, or lack of taste, but they expressed opinions."


Then, in the early 90s, it all came crashing down, due to corruption in the Italian parliament, bankruptcy in the cities, deaths from AIDS and a lack of money in general. But Ms. Molho maintains it was great while it lasted. And possibly the fashion magazines were a lot more fun. Plus! Ms. Mohlo has some great insights about working in the industry: "There was a time when quality paid off," she says.

On being a young, low-on-the-totem-pole stylist:

"I instantly learned that the difficult parts of this job are the small ones. When you have the amazing dress and the famous photographer, you don't really have to do any work."


On the vibe in Milan in the 80s:

Easy money, constant partying, and one out of two people in the street was a foreigner. It was a very superficial atmosphere, but it was vibrant. The fashion money funded the arts. Think about the Fiorucci store that was entirely painted by Keith Haring. There was a sensation that everything was possible."

On why no one should go to fashion school:

"These schools today are pretty useless. They are very theoretical. What do you need theory for? Nothing. What you need is experience, to have lived and seen and done other things in life. I taught for a while and I used to tell my students: 'Seeing one picture by Chagall is much more important than reading all the issues of Vogue ever published.'"


On Giorgio Armani, whose biography she penned:

"Studying him and talking to all the people in his life, I think I managed to understand the reasoning behind some of his actions. There's a telling episode in his life. When his life partner, Sergio Galeotti, died, the only daily that mentioned AIDS was Rome's Messaggero. Immediately after that, Armani canceled his advertising account with that paper. It became something of a media scandal. Researching him as a person, I see that as an act of love aimed at the preservation of a man's dignity rather than an act of spite."


On what happened after the magical '80s ended:

"Everything turned into a soulless homage to other things we had seen before. Think about the era of successive revivals that began after the 80s. For example, even today in most runway shows the music is nothing but a mix of 60s, 70s, and 80s music. It's a big empty hole. Nothing is exciting anymore, and most things are tremendously boring. Often, the best things are written by unknown editors and journalists, while the big names seem to sign things off with their left hand. Haven't you noticed that nobody expresses an opinion anymore?"


Here's an opinion: If the pendulum would only swing back the other way, fashion (designers, magazines, ads, models) would be a whole lot less boring.

Drinking Milan [Vice]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



@hortense: wow, I'm sorta scared that I got a comment from you, eek!

My opinion is that more and more kids go to "fashion school" or major in "merchandising" thinking is an easy or glamorous industry where they don't really have to work very hard. I've been in the "fashion business" for 10 years and every talented person I've been lucky enough to come across is where they are because of ambition and that talent, not because they went to FIT for 2 semesters. There are few schools (that I know) that teach fashion as a true art (i,e, textiles, etc). My experience tells me anything else is a waste of time.

(so yes, probably the community college reference was imappropriate, what can I say, I can be a jerk. My sincere apologies to any offended.)