Fashion 

How Blumarine, the Iconic Y2K Label, Returned to the Fashion Spotlight

Nicola Brognano has transformed the Italian house into one of the industry’s hottest brands.

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Looking at November’s tabloid news cycle, you’d think that daylight savings had us flipping the calendar, rather than the clock, back — all the way to the year 2000. Britney is free. Lindsay Lohan is nabbing leading roles. Paris and Nicole are hanging out. And, like clockwork, Dua Lipa is wearing head-to-toe Blumarine.

From music to fashion, the Y2K revival is in full swing. And nowhere is it more readily apparent than in the raucous resurgence of iconic Italian fashion house, Blumarine.

 

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Founded in Carpi by designer Anna Molinari and her late husband Gianpaolo Tarabini, Blumarine has been a fashion industry stalwart since its Milan Fashion Week debut in 1981. Back then, Anna was known as “the queen of roses” and, in many ways, the pretty pink flower symbolized the designer’s vision for Blumarine: sensual and romantic with an edge. Think cashmere bikinis, sequinned minidresses, loads of leopard print and mink-trimmed cardigans — a label staple.

While Blumarine came up in the ’80s, Blumarine’s heyday arrived around the turn of the millennium. Throughout the ’90s, the brand enlisted supermodels like Adriana Lima and Nadja Auermann, and powerhouse photographers such as Helmut Newton and Ellen von Unwerth, to lend their sexy élan to the label through a series of now-iconic campaigns. One such Newton-lensed image sees Italian actress Monica Bellucci wearing a thick black choker, thigh-high socks and a floral-embroidered vest, cigarette perched between her lips.

Into Y2K, Blumarine became the go-to brand for sexy-but-sweet party garb: intricately beaded frocks, lacy camisoles and broderie anglaise. In 2004, at the zenith of noughties pop culture, Lindsay Lohan wore one of the label’s sequinned minidresses to the MTV Movie Awards. By the latter half of the decade, however, the fashion house’s luster began to fade.

 

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Enter Nicola Brognano, the designer behind the the brand’s recent resurgence. After graduating from Milan’s Marangoni Institute, working a stint at Giambattista Valli and founding his namesake label, Brognano was appointed as Blumarine’s creative director in 2019. The designer made his Milan Fashion Week debut for Spring/Summer 2021, followed by a buzzy Fall/Winter 2021 collection that paid homage to the Y2K icons of his youth, and of Blumarine’s heyday: Britney Spears’ newsboy caps, Paris Hilton’s flouncy miniskirts and, of course, Lohan’s lower-than-low-slung denim.

The outing signaled a departure from the Blumarine of yore. “I wanted to show a collection that talks about happiness, sexiness, freedom. Something that breaks the rules,” Brognano says. “I feel very close to the early 2000s because I grew up in these years and it was natural for me to present them to the Blumarine audience. From the heritage of the brand, I wanted to revisit the sense of sensuality, not in a vulgar way, but with irony and lightness of touch.” Out was the earnest sweetness that characterized the label’s early-’00s fare. In was a more hard-edged, ostentatious glamour: more midriff, more belly chains, more faux-fur. “My Blumarine is more dirty, b-tchy, sexier,” the designer told Vogue. The look was a hit, transforming Blumarine from sleeper label into one of the industry’s most buzzed-about — and one of TikTok’s most viral — brands.

While Brognano’s new Blumarine marks a clear break from the past, the designer notes that he aims to maintain a bit of the brand’s original spirit. “Blumarine has always been a reference to me. I think Anna Molinari’s vision is similar to mine, even though we have different lives and are from different generations,” Brognano shares. “I always take into consideration the archive and the DNA of the brand [when I’m designing].” He points to the FW21 collection’s electric rose garden patterns, a callback to Molinari’s original prints. Brognano also revisited the label’s signature fur-trimmed BluVi cardigan, reinterpreting the iconic look across a series of jackets, boleros and off-the-shoulder tops. The reimagined style has been worn — in its many iterations — by fans including Kim Kardashian, Bella Hadid and Olivia Rodrigo.

 

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But perhaps no celebrity is a larger fan of the new Blumarine than Dua Lipa. The queen of the Y2K revival herself, the Future Nostalgia singer has worn myriad head-to-toe looks from the brand. Most recently, Dua attended the filming of Adele’s ITV special in a pink chiffon two-piece from the Spring/Summer 2022 collection. Last month, she snapped an Instagram grid photo donning a denim set — a halter top and matching jeans — from the same collection. Both looks were embellished with butterflies, a motif that fluttered its way across both Blumarine’s FW21 and SS22 collections, and one that Brognano calls an unofficial logo of the label.

In the last two seasons, Blumarine has not only become one of the internet’s most talked-about brands, but it has also become an emblem of fashion’s larger obsession with ’00s style. “I’m happy that Gen Z is able to appreciate the 2000s even [though] they didn’t live that period,” Brognano speaks on the label’s success amidst the Y2K revival. “There is something cyclic in trends, but especially for the early 2000s. I feel it was the right moment to talk about it, because today people need happiness, joy and a sense of lightness in their lives more than ever. These three elements with a touch of glamour describe perfectly the early 2000s.” They’re also the perfect words to describe the new Blumarine. As Paris would say, “That’s hot.”


Zoë Kendall is a writer and editor specializing in fashion and culture.

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