Milan men’s fashion week: Prada’s packs, Westwood’s Assange appeal and Versace’s purple

Colourful cultures from around the world inspire the catwalk shows in the Italian fashion capital, with looser cuts, relaxed silhouettes and a large dose of androgyny

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 June, 2016, 5:00pm

Strict tailoring gave way to looser, relaxed looks during the second day of menswear previews for spring and summer 2017 at Milan Fashion Week.

The prevalent silhouette was boxy on top with athletic cut trousers as designers courted the millennial audience, eager to mix comfort with style. Shoes were comfortable sandals with grip soles and bags were travel-ready.

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Androgyny remained a theme as designers presented looks meant to be worn by men and women – some more easily than others. Vivienne Westwood’s collection contained equal parts looks for men and women, while Prada continued the tradition of mixing women’s looks with the menswear.

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Ermanno Scervino, who opted for a presentation instead of a catwalk show, said he would mix his men’s and women’s collections during the September fashion week.

These were among the highlights from June 19’s shows:

Prada leads the pack

The Prada man dresses for comfort on his long global trek, but packs for a night out.

The focal point of the collection was active wear: drawstring active trousers or athletic leggings with contrast stitching for him, and walking skirts with corresponding drawstring hems for her. Colourful strapped sandals with big backpacks adorned with drinking flasks and dress shoes give the air of adventure and self-sufficiency.

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There were technical raincoats with satellite images of the Earth, pretty florals and a whimsical traveller’s print.

Miuccia Prada says that while recent collections looked back in time, this one is set firmly in the now – with all its question marks.

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“The past is over. I want to take care of the present,” she says. “The goal is to share with other people, other cultures, other mentalities.”

She has given her man the option to carry everything on his back in big utilitarian backpacks, because you never know. But she’s an optimist: pointy men’s dress shoes hang from the backpacks and women’s heels in celebratory cotton candy pink dangle from a handbag.

“In case you want to have an evening out. That was fun,” she says.

Westwood supports Assange

Vivienne Westwood opened her show with a video message to the British prime minister urging him to allow WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to leave the Ecuadorian embassy in London without threat of arrest.

“Whatever you do, you are not going to stop him from telling the truth,” she said.

The ever-political Westwood also continues to push the envelope in her collections. The designer champions androgyny with Arab-inspired dresses and thin knit dresses that can function as tunics.

The collection recalled some rock’n’roll greats, from Jimi Hendrix with fringed jackets and military embellishments, to Marianne Faithful with fishnet details and toga dresses and Brian Jones with overdone velvet jackets.

Many of her looks were emblazoned with IOU, which wasn’t completely obvious but given Westwood’s environmental leanings is likely a reference to the debt we owe the planet.

Westwood walked the runway with a T-shirt emblazoned: “I am Julian Assange.”

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. He faces rape allegations in Sweden and an active investigation in the US involving espionage, conspiracy and computer fraud.

Ferragamo funks it up

The Salvatore Ferragamo silhouette has loosened up considerably. The fashion house is transitioning to a new designer, still to be named, after the recent departure of Massimiliano Giornetti, and the looks presented by the in-house design team marked a decisive departure from the sophisticated tailoring of recent collections.

The new look is epitomised by a soft shirt on top tucked into high-waist pleated trousers accented with a double belt. The collection also featured military and safari jackets worn with primitive print scarves. Ferragamo sewed together 100,000 small triangles to create a mosaic-effect jacket.

Bags included canvas or leather backpacks with big pockets that were replayed on the jackets and shirts. Ferragamo’s Tramezza show combines leather and elastic shielding for a sneaker effect.

Missoni man is a cowboy

Missoni’s looks for next summer were inspired by Guatemala, from its hand-woven fabrics and palette of brown, red and orange offset by indigo, green and papaya.

Designer Angela Missoni knotted scarves at the waist for a sarong effect over baggy Bermuda shorts or flared cropped trousers. The collection also referenced the South American gaucho with arched embroidery on the front of cowboy shirts, worn with Japanese denim.

The colourful quetzal became a motif on sweaters and prints, while the Missoni looms wove 83 colours to mimic the harmonious mood of Guatemala.

Dolce & Gabbana jazz it up

Dolce & Gabbana invited the fashion crowd to a Sicilian jazz festival, with echoes of New Orleans and the Copa Cabana resounding along the checkerboard catwalk.

Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana’s collection for next spring/summer was a carefully arranged cacophony. The live soundtrack to the show was provided by New York jazz band The Hot Sardines.

A black-and-white ensemble featured a checked sweater worn over a floral print shirt and with striped pants. A sweater emblazoned with jazz musical references in bold white on black was paired with slim leopard print trousers.

There were looks for performers of all musical traditions, from slim, highly disciplined suits to oversized T-shirts over loose trousers and billowing silken floor-length caftans in wild prints.

Stage-ready black and white dominated the runway, with flashes of gold and animal prints. Suit jackets ranged from tuxedo collars to double-breasted looks, while trousers, be they slim or loose and pleated, were almost always cropped to show off thick-soled shoes. Bomber jackets and boxy tops were the canvas for the recurring motifs, including palm fronds, pineapples and jazz band instruments.

The show ended with a New Orleans-style jazz parade, the popping of sparkling wine corks and a flurry of golden confetti.

The front row was populated by a veritable who’s who of the millennial generation, including internet star Cameron Dallas, style icon Luka Sabbat, British rapper Tinie Tempah and famous offspring Gabriel Kane Day-Lewis, Rafferty Law and Lucas Maurice Morad Jagger.

Versace goes deep purple

Donatella Versace paid tribute to Prince, capping her show with a black ruffle shirt.

The frilly gesture, referencing the artist’s Purple Rain costume, was in stark contrast to the rest of the collection, which was otherwise defined by a relaxed silhouette more befitting a nomad than the ostentatious performer.

The collection featured silk knitwear worn under long, trailing overcoats. Button-down shirts were worn long like tunics, and sweaters wrapped androgynously at the waist. Single-breasted suit jackets were hastily buttoned over loose trousers with an elastic cuff.

The Versace empire bag was worn both cross-body, messenger-style and as a backpack. Footwear included sturdy sandals and technical sneakers.

The palette was olive, blue, grey and sand and Prince’s own purple.

The show was set to a soundtrack of music that Prince recorded as a gift to Versace, who said she wanted “to share this incredible music from a dear and much missed friend”.