Wednesday 20th February

| BY Claudia Croft

United Colours Of Benetton: Ready-To-Wear AW19

United Colours of Benetton, the sleeping lion of the Italian fashion industry is waking up. In October 2018, Benetton announced that Jean Charles de Castelbajac was joining the house as it’s first ever creative director. He joined founder Luciano Benetton who returned to helm the brand in January last year and brought back Oliviero Toscani, whose social commentary campaigns made Benetton an essential part of the cultural conversation in the eighties and nineties. “We are the three musketeers,” said Castelbajac, backstage. These three charismatic fashion veterans have a joint mission to put Benetton back at the heart of fashion, starting with the brand’s first ever on-schedule fashion show (in Milan) and followed by a move away from fast fashion by shifting production back to its Italian factories.

To emphasise that point, the centre of the catwalk featured knitting machines manned by white-coated workers from the factory floor. Castelbajac then let loose his rainbow army wearing their box fresh, brightly coloured Benetton looks. Boys and girls alike block colour quilted coats and body warmers, and primary hues knits. Many pieces featured the familiar green Benetton label blow-up to supersize. Castelbajac wants to make iconic collaborations a key part of the Benetton world. Micky Mouse and Peanuts characters featured on several pieces. It was fun, upbeat and clearly aimed at a making a new generation of kids, proud to wear Benetton. Castelbajac “I’ve dressed The Pope and Lady Gaga,” said the designer, “now I want to dress everybody.” Castelbajac has had a long and distinguished fashion career. In 1974, he co-founded Iceberg, and 1978, he launched his eponymous brand. Know for his bright optimistic designs, he left the label in 2016. Over the years he has also collaborated with Max Mara, Ellesse and Courrèges, but Benetton he said, with its heritage of colourful, good vibes, “feels like home”.