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Milano Moda Graduate crowns Chiara Balla winner of CNMI Fashion Award 2023

By Veerle Versteeg


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Chiara Balla with her winning collection at Milano Moda Graduate 2023 Credits: Image courtesy of Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana.

The young Italian designer Chiara Balla, a student of the fashion design programme at the Modartech Institute (Istituto Modartech) in Tuscany, Italy has won the highest honours at Milano Moda Graduate, a graduate fashion design competition organised by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion (CNMI). Balla was able to take home the competition’s Fashion Design Award.

On September 19, the first day of MFW SS24, the 22-year-old emerging designer who is from Tuscany herself, presented a fashion collection, entitled ‘Burrnesh’ on the runway of Milano Moda Graduate at the Royal Palace of Milan. The looks she created are inspired by the women of the Balkans who were known as the Burrnesh.

Milano Moda Graduate is a fashion design contest dedicated to showcasing the best talents from the graduating classes of fashion schools in Italy. It is organised annually by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion (CNMI) in the context of Milan Fashion Week in September.

Chiara Balla wins Milano Moda Graduate 2023 with her collection 'Burrnesh'

The international jury of the CNMI competition applauded Balla’s collection which could be described as “somewhere between tradition and innovation”, La Nazione, the Italian newspaper for the Florence region, wrote in a news article.

For her collection, Chiara was inspired by the Burrnesh women who lived in deeply patriarchal societies in the Balkans, where it was not accepted to live without the presence of a man, the local Tuscan news website toscanamedianews.it writes, describing the inspiration behind the collection.

In the absence of a male figure, they were the ones who had to deny their identity and take on that of the opposite sex. Becoming a Burrnesh meant undergoing a transition ceremony, during which the women’s hair was cut and they had to change into men’s clothes.

As a harmony between tradition and innovation, Chiara Balla created her collection using fabrics of Italian origin and Casentino cloth, where small details such as handmade prints and embroideries, the result of research and experimentation, are highlighted, Toscana Media News writes about the emerging designer’s creations.

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