Menswear goes feminine at Milan Fashion Week's spring-summer show
Women's dressing went mainstream for men like never before during Milan Fashion Week, which ended its four-day run this week.
Gucci was the most extreme with lace shorts, satiny bow tops and floral suits - all for men. None of the looks could rightly be called unisex - or at least as the term has been used until now, reserved for looks that possess a gender neutrality. These outfits had a decidedly feminine point of view, emphasised even more by the female models who wore versions of the same.
And even on the menswear runways less committed to the strategy, there were touches of femininity, with softer fabrics, colours and cuts.
At the same time there was an emphasis on utilitarian looks, including anoraks, safari coats, trousers and shorts fitted with big pockets and flip flops.
Here are some highlights.
The Armani man knows how to kick back in style - as confident as the stylist himself, who is celebrating 40 years in the fashion business this year, and has nothing to prove.
His warm-weather styles for 2016 communicate comfort and lightness, from the elegant, light fabrics to the comfortable, roomy cuts to the easy way of dressing. An off-skew vest is all the shirt an Armani man needs under his jacket.
Colours were cool Mediterranean blues, with shades of nude and grey.
The trouser defined the look. Roomy pleated pants had three lengths: ankle, cropped at mid-calf or pedal pushers, ready to hop on a bike like one pushed down the runway by a model.
"You need provocations and courage - and we were courageous with jackets with flowers in the 1960s - but this kind of excess produces garments mostly to put on to demonstrate creative liberty," the designer said.
Those expecting the famous Versace glitz instead got simply styled models in muted colours, sensible suits and sportswear that was generally down to earth.
The show was stripped of brash patterns and bright colours as the label looks to become a bigger player in a booming, more global menswear market, which has led to more competition for older houses.
Miuccia Prada says her menswear collection for next spring and summer is an exploration of the role of modesty in an era that requires self-promotion. So, the issue of modesty isn't so much about not showing skin, as one might assume when discussing fashion. Skin, the designer said, is a sign of humanity.
Men were offered short shorts, in contrast to the Bermuda and cargo shorts on most other runways. Prada said the show aimed to analyse modesty and humanity in contrast with "the necessity of being bold, aggressive and loud".
"Because modesty is not any more for today," Prada said backstage after the show.
The men's looks had a slouchy feel, whether silken shirts open to the belt and roughly tucked in or stiff leather-hooded jackets worn as if they were about to fall off. The looks were paired with trousers with contrasting pockets or loose-fitting short shorts.
Graphic images of rabbits, rocket ships, eyes and lips cast a whimsical note, but Prada said she also intended to comment on censorship with the eye, which sometimes appeared with an X, and lips.
Creative director Tomas Maier's spring-summer collection took it outside - with looks and gear suitable for strolling in the Bavarian Alps, if not all trail-ready then at least lodge appropriate.
Maier said the collection "is about the fascination of a journey back to nature, when it is time for spiritual rest".
Tapping his Teutonic origins, the German designer incorporated details from lederhosen on lambskin suede trousers, from the drawstring waist closures to the button-down calves. He eschewed the traditional checked button-down shirt, pairing the bottoms with, say, a cotton sweater and Gabardine jacket.
The looks were finished with sandals featuring rope details or hiking boots, both worn with two-tone ribbed wool socks.
Maier took his duffel and quilted backpack and headed for the seaside with cotton pull-on pants that gathered on the calf, ready to wade right in, and crochet caps in bright purple and peacock blue.
The collection culminated with silken suits with a comfy pyjama feel made out of cupro, a regenerated cotton fibre often used as a silk substitute, and paired with flip-flops.
Massimiliano Giornetti reached for a youthful audience with an idiosyncratic collection that included off-kilter graphic prints of cacti and monkeys, bold colour panels on suits and pinstripes dressing up bomber jackets.
Menswear is a big part of Ferragamo's heritage and represents 40 per cent of its business, a rare balance in the female-oriented fashion universe. Signalling the collection's eclecticism, Ferragamo dressed up its showroom with art deco furniture, hothouse plants and a life-sized carved gorilla - the dwelling of an eccentric adventurer.
For the more traditional customer, there were double-breasted and single-button suit jackets, often paired with more playful colour-block tops. Giornetti tapped the brand's leatherwear DNA with an ultra-luxurious graphic shirt that appeared to be panels of brightly coloured crocodile.
The brand beckons men to India on a spiritual journey that incorporates its Western roots. Angela Missoni's menswear collection for spring and summer centres on two must-have pieces for the modern-day nomad: the four-pocket field jacket and the tunic. The two elements "interweave Western utilitarianism with Eastern ornamentation and devotion," Missoni said.
The loom-woven knitwear comprises Madras check elements, resembling plaids, as well as triangular patchwork and the more traditional Missoni zig-zag. Knit jackets were worn over linen shirts with Missoni knit sleeves, and paired with knit pants or cargo shorts.
Long beads or big scarves added to the ethnic mood. For travel-ready footwear there were the Malibu sandals - made with Peta-approved vegan material - and Converse All-Star Chuck '70 sneakers in Missoni's military mesh.
Colours were key to conveying the spiritual element of the collection, including saffron, indigo, turmeric, marigold, vermilion and ivory.
The house is known for its formal suiting but this was absent, although there were examples of suits being reimagined. In its place were duster coats in Madras checks, loose-cut pastel looks and fringed moccasins. Ties were replaced with silk foulards worn around the wrist and peeping out from jacket cuffs.
It's back to basics for the brand, as men's creative director Italo Zucchelli presented a utilitarian collection for spring-summer 2016 that works for the man, and not the other way around. The mainly monochrome looks featured T-shirts or sweaters with suit jackets and tailored trousers.
For more casual outings, simple T-shirts with jeans or trousers with big tablet-sized pockets, usually cuffed, were on show.