Mila Schön

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Mila Schön (1916 or 1917[1] – September 5, 2008) was an Italian fashion designer.

Born Maria Carmen Nutrizio, in Trogir (Dalmatia) – now Croatia – on September 28, 1916 to wealthy Dalmatian Italian aristocratic parents who relocated to the Italian peninsula when Schön was a child,[2] she is known for her simple, modern clothes structured along classical lines.

After the First World War, the lands ruled from Vienna were redistributed and the family moved to Trieste, where she grew up and which she considered her home. At the age of 18, she left the city to join her brother in Genoa, moving once again to Milan in 1946. There, she met her husband, precious metals dealer Aurelio Schön.

In the postwar period, Schön enjoyed a brief return to wealth. She became a client of the most prestigious Parisian couture houses, first Balenciaga and then Dior.

Happiness was to be short lived - when her husband's jewellery business failed and the marriage ended, she was left broke with a young son, Giorgio. Lacking the means to fund her love of couture, she resorted to creating dresses herself, with the help of skilled Milanese seamstresses, creating garments which imitated Parisian fashion at Milan prices.[citation needed] As her friends began to place private orders, Schön suddenly became a fashion entrepreneur. With the help of her mother, she opened a workshop in 1958. Marella Agnelli was one of her early clients.

By 1965, Mila - her childhood nickname - Schön had advanced so far beyond imitation that she was invited to show her 'Onda' (Wave) collection in the famous Sala Bianca at Pitti Palace in Florence. Her 25 outfits in tones of violet, the colour of the Art Nouveau revival, were a hit. In 1966 she opened her maison in an antique palazzo at Via Montenapoleone 2, with modern furniture by Joe Colombo and Eero Saarinen.

In the same year, she received the Neiman Marcus 'Fashion Oscar' prize for colour. At the legendary Black and White Ball held at the Hotel Plaza in NY by Truman Capote, Marella Agnelli was voted best-dressed guest, in a sheer embroidered Schön kaftan craftswomen. The third in the best-dressed guest contest was Lee Radziwill in a Schön shift. Agnelli and Radzwill, with Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Iran's Farah Diba and Imelda Marcos were amongst Schön's clients especially in her Onassis yachtgoing years, as did Farah Diba, wife of the Shah of Iran, and later Imelda Marcos came to embody the Mila Schön brand of simple, intelligent elegance.

Like Armani did later, she tried to subvert the traditional structures of tailoring, although she did so with a more daring zeal, experimenting with doublefaced fabrics and investing in her own Cuomo textile firm for research and development. Schön remembered from childhood Jeanne Lanvin's feminine discipline, and she anticipated Jil Sander as an unsentimental reductionist. When she did do colour and pattern, she borrowed from the modern art she collected - Victor Vasarely, Kenneth Noland, Alexander Calder, Lucio Fontana ([3])

In 2005, Ronna was the Mila Schon ready-to-wear license holder in Japan with retail value of €30 million.[4]


  1. ^ Her New York Times obituary states, "Though Ms. Schön's age was confirmed to be 91, her birth year has been reported as both 1916 and 1917."
  2. ^ [1] Interview with Mila Schön: "Mila, al secolo Maria Carmen Nutrizio, nasce infatti nel 1919 a Traù, un anno dopo la caduta dell'impero austro-ungarico. Il padre è farmacista e proprietario terriero, la mamma una Luxardo del maraschino di Lussinpiccolo, il fratello Nino diventerà giornalista e sarà fondatore e per lunghi anni direttore del quotidiano milanese «La Notte». Dalla Dalmazia, che lascia a tre mesi con la famiglia, si trasferisce a Trieste, in una casa del centro storico, dove vive e studia fino a diciott'anni." (Mila is born as "Maria Carmen Nutrizio" in 1919 in Traù, a year after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire...)
  3. ^ The Guardian
  4. ^ Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9. 

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