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David Bowie

Milan catwalks pay fitting tribute to David Bowie’s influence on fashion

Designers including Ennio Capasa and Peter Dundas salute the Starman’s influence on culture at Milan Fashion Week menswear shows

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 January, 2016, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 January, 2016, 12:01am

Designers in Milan paid tribute to music and fashion icon David Bowie as Milan Fashion Week menswear previews for next autumn and winter continued.

Costume National designer Ennio Capasa and Roberto Cavalli’s Peter Dundas both said that the musician had often been a font of inspiration, something apparent in their collections, which were previewing just a week after Bowie’s death.

Capasa named his Milan show after Bowie song “Under Pressure” for the state of the world amid repeated violent attacks and for the condition of a fashion industry being consumed by fast fashion.

The collection featured feminine touches for men that embodied early Bowie, from silken scarves tied loosely below the neck to concentric silver beading on jackets and deep scoop necklines on soft velour tops. Yet at the same time, Capasa underlined the converse, the adaptability of men’s fashion for women. A red, velvety three-piece suit was worn in turn by both a male, then a female, model. Booties finished all the looks.

Under pressure

Capasa said breaking gender barriers is an idea that drew him into fashion in the 1990s “and I think it is coming back”.

Bowie, he said, has always been one of his icons. On Capasa’s story board backstage was a Costume National photograph of Bowie from the early 2000s flanked by two wild wolves, looking, said the designer “like a Roman emperor. Even the wolves are subdued.”

“The magic beside the incredible talent of his music is that everything he touched became an icon. That is the meaning of a true artist,” Capasa said.

Capasa said he was fighting to protect his own creations against the “vampires” of fast fashion that copy innovation, but had lost one battle against a copycat’s powerful lawyers. “The only defence I have is creativity,” he said.

Sicilian spaghetti western

The invitation to the Dolce & Gabbana show came with its own soundtrack, playing Ennio Morricone’s A Fistful of Dollars theme when opened, clearly foreshadowing that the designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana had applied their Sicilian lens to the spaghetti western.

The cinematically styled collection, titled “Sicilian Western” and inspired by Sergio Leone’s popular ’60s films, had flashes of both of whimsy and danger. Light-hearted repeating motifs of cacti, crossed revolvers, a mustachioed cowboy and a saloon dancer were embroidered or printed on sweaters and shirts, as well as tailored jackets and suits, three-piece and double-breasted.

A bit more back-country, a big furry brown coat recalled Leonardo DiCaprio clad in the skin of the bear that mauled him in The Revenant. There were also bushy lambswool trousers, worn with scoop-neck sweaters or thermal tops. Embroidery emerged as a trend in Milan, and the designers featured needlework on denim jeans, jackets and shirts.

Some models filmed the catwalk and fashion front row as they displayed their wears; designers again upped their social media engagement by streaming the films.

Models in silken pyjamas swarmed the catwalk for the finale, bringing sleepwear out of the bedroom and onto the street. Silken trousers were worn with thick-knit sweaters and pyjama tops were tucked into straight trousers, completed with a bandanna knotted around the neck.

Rock’n ’roll femininity

Peter Dundas’ menswear debut at Roberto Cavalli embraced feminine touches in ways familiarised by Bowie, tempered with masculine features. Sheer shirts adorned with silver beading were paired with a tweed jacket, or silken floral scarves knotted below the neck with an open front polka dot shirt and suede jacket, and even embroidered black velour jacket over corduroy flairs.

Winter was a parade of luxury, from oversized animal print furs worn over Norwegian-patterned scarves and sweaters, to rich reptile skin coats and jackets in contrasting stripes of colour worn with jeans.

A long, sweeping coat draped casually cool over the shoulders, flowing down into open-slit arms, both evoked superstars of ’60s and ’70s rock and contrasted pointedly with the crystal chandeliers and Canaletto originals in the Napoleon-era Crespi Palace where the show took place. Discordantly fitting, sneakers finished the looks.

Easy intimacy

Marni creative director Consuelo Castiglioni provided a carefree, easy menswear silhouette for next winter.

Big overcoats had deep slits on the sides to create movement, while others were so wide they recall ponchos. Painter’s shirts provided whimsy with their gathered necklines, unfinished hems, and button-down backs, left open to reveal layers, and worn with wide pants that narrow at the ankle. Pinstripes clashed with each other, thick over thin on coats and shirts.

Castiglioni used casual necklines, favouring V-necks. A castorino fur stole provided serious closure to a suit. Winter colours included calming blues, military greens, burgundy and mustard. Shoes were neat leather high-top or low-top sneakers with pronounced treads in contrasting red and go-anywhere tan.

Fragmented beauty

Creative director Alessandro Michele created a dreamlike backdrop to unpack a chest full of ’70s memories for his latest Gucci menswear collection. The looks were presented under a reddish light in the freshly red-carpeted, disused train depot that the designer, now in his second year at Gucci, has claimed as his theatre.

His memories spoke of a happy boyhood, with a Sherlock Holmes-style cape and cap, this one with crocheted ear covers; Snoopy and Woodstock motifs on T-shirts, a theme that he elaborated later into a Charlie Brown sweater, and a crinkly western cowboy shirt with bootleg jeans.

But the boyhood lens also picked up on the adult world, and there was floral tapestry that became coats and suits, crocheted capes and hats that suggested a loving hand, and cosy pyjamas with floral embroidery. Each memory was also elaborated: colourful totems were applied to the back of floral jackets; knitted hats had whimsical ears or fantastical monster faces; detective capes came in striking red, rich fur and classic plaid.

The looks were finished with a melange of rings, beaded necklaces, some with pendants, and headbands with a hand motif. Michele also reinterpreted classic ’70s Gucci. A golden handbag was realised with glittery Gucci red and green stripes. The Gucci trench was white, worn with a dramatic red hat.

Michele’s show notes were intimidatingly titled “Poetic Reactivation”, and cited three philosophers – one French, one German, and one Russian. Backstage, he said the starting point for the collection was the idea of “fragmented beauty” that he took from the late Walter Albini, one of the pioneers of Italian ready-to-wear.

Associated Press