Born in Dalmatia just after the First World War, Maria Carmen Nustrizio was just a young upper- middle class lady who knew nothing about fashion but the fact that she liked wearing Parisian Haute-Couture dresses. Certainly, nobody could expect her to become the Lady of Italian High- Fashion.
She was living in Milan with her husband when she decided to enter the world of Italian fashion. This charming and elegant lady of aristocratic origins had no cutting or sewing experience but with a small group of able workers she set up a workshop in via San Pietro all’Orto (then moved to the famous via Montenapoleone) in 1958. The first soberly cut coats and dresses were produced and their refined touch was not missed by the elegant Milanese women.
The turning point came in 1965, when she was invited to show her “Onda” collection in one of the symbolic scenery of the Italian fashion tradition, Palazzo Pitti, who had become a showcase for much Italian designers like her. Her elegant but not too luxuriant, her geometric and well defined lines, the preciousness of the fabrics led Mila Schön to catch the eyes of a worldwide public.
The future holds international recognition in store for her and the Florence show is only the first in a series of successes. The enthusiasm of a buyer from the fabled department store Neiman Marcus took the Italian stylist to the United States where she presented her collections in Houston and Dallas and was awarded the Fashion Oscar for Color in 1967 and Truman Capote organized a fashion show in her honor.
At the end of the decade, Mila Schön was offering dresses that were compared to works of art such as those by Josef Albers, Calder and Fontana. The new representative of the made-in-Italy played with geometric shapes and optical illusions, inlays of colors and precious materials, attractions and multiplications of images, always inspired by contemporary artists. Her Calder’s mobil-inspired printed wovens are worthy of the “Tiberio d’Oro” prize in 1969.
Her evening gowns take on a growing importance in the successive collections of the Italian maison. They include some embroidered in white and silver, those with Gobelin motifs, and those of Persian inspiration, which made their first appearance in 1970 just after the opening of the first boutique in Rome. Her most important invention was the double-faced fabric, a two-weaves union that means order, dynamics and preciousness, characteristics that the Italian designer had managed to mix in every cloth she had designed.
In 1969 Mila Schön started a collaboration with the Italian airline company Alitalia, designing the uniforms for its hostesses and crew. In 1971 the Italian stylist launched her men’s line and the same year sees the birth of the women ready-to-wear collections, followed by the men collection before the end of the decade. These latter lines had a wider public in mind but no less demanding. Simplicity, elegance and refinement were as always the Italian fashion house priorities.
In the 70’s and the 80’s, Mila Schön was decorated with international important awards and titles, while her Italian brand’s market grows exponentially. During her career, in an era were the importance of the made-in-Italy was ever-growing, she promoted her label through the images of various famous photographers, among them the Italian Ugo Mulas.
In 1973, it is one of the first fashion houses to represent the “made-in-Italy” in Japan, a nation that recognizes the Italian fashion designer’s talent dedicating her an exhibition in 1983. The same year, for the 25th anniversary of the Italian Maison, other shows are hold in Rome as well as New York.
The relationship between the Italian label and the Japanese market is so strong and well-established that in 1992 the same Mila Schön decided to make over her fashion brand to Itochu Corporation, which is still holding the control over the group, entrusting the creative direction to different young fashion talents and the European market control first to the Mariella Burani group, then to Brand Extension Srl in 2007. Since 2008, the creative director Bianca Gervasio has contributed to the revitalization of the Italian maison, which currently has a yearly turnover of about 200 millions of Euros, with boutiques all over the world, from Europe to the Far East.
In 2008, for the fifty years of activity of the “made-in-Italy” brand, the Alta Roma organization presented the docu-film “50 Mila Schön”, and the city of Milan paid its homage to her with the exhibition “50 Mila Schön, Linee, Colori, Superfici”, but the Italian designer died just before she could see it.
Mila Schönvia Vivaio, 11
20122 Milano, Italy
Tel. [+39] 02 7601-3707