It was every man for himself at Milan Fashion Week.
Runway shows for next spring and summer menswear collections were crammed into three days, ending Monday, with some fashion houses opting for presentations, others skipping menswear for combined men’s and women’s shows in September and yet others taking a break during creative transitions. The abbreviated calendar proved somewhat disorientating, leaving the feeling that something was missing.
Likewise, trends seemed to be going every which way. Many designers, for example, seemed not to have gotten the memo that these were warm-weather collections, with a plethora of winter fabrics like corduroy and velvet hitting the runway along with heavier gear like overcoats, beyond the seasonal bomber or duster.
One thing everyone agreed on: Millennial engagement. Some houses did that by inviting young personalities to either walk the runways or sit in the front row, while others sought to attract them with proportion plays, mixed media and other youthful touches. Armani invited Liam Payne of One Direction to see his preview show; Ferragamo seated Italian rapper Ghali in its front row; Fendi hosted actor Tommy Dorfman; and Dolce & Gabbana put no fewer than 106 style-setters from around the globe on their runway.
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Here are some highlights from Monday’s shows:
THE VERY BEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF FENDI
Silvia Venturini Fendi’s menswear collections was exquisitely light, summery in the best and most elegant sense of the word, best expressed in transparent nylon jackets that defined Fendi’s new executive work.
A sheer salmon-coloured printed suit jacket allowed a glimpse of suspenders from the back, and yet was weighty enough to give gravitas to the brown striped trousers and complementary golden tie. The Fendi man is down to business, but it may be at poolside, or in a hotel lounge, professional and yet playful at the same time.
“Lightness is our speciality,” Fendi said backstage. “It was interesting to propose it on more classic looks, more traditional, with ties and clothing that I call a bit more executive, and create a contrast with the transparent jackets.”
The silhouette of the looks had an easy Brat Pack feel, even if the story board backstage pictured Christian Bale in American Psycho.
And in that vein, ties are back, if loosely knotted, and also suspenders, but they are paired with nylon trousers or a matching sheer short, and sling-back loafers or slip-on pool shoes. The bag of choice is either a serious leather bucket-back or a more whimsical nylon mesh carrier featuring one of the collection’s quotidian motifs.
The looks featured repetitive prints that on closer inspection reveal themselves to be everyday objects: cups of coffee, faucets, bananas, old-fashioned desk lamps, martinis. For Fendi, these objects are not symbols of nostalgia, but of things that stay the same in a changing world.
“I like to take references from the past because they are fundamental certainties on which to build a future,” she said. “But the collection is all new.”
Fendi also has updated the logo with elegant subtlety. The brand’s well-known interlocking Fs becomes a repeating print of its own on short-sleeve button-down shirts, and stand as logos above breast pockets on jackets, forming a stripe down trouser legs and stamped into the leather bill of baseball caps.
MADE IN ARMANI
Wind-swept and beach-ready describe Giorgio Armani’s looks for next season, even if most are meant for an urban setting.
The collection opened with a sweeping, double-breasted linen trench with a kaftan feel, setting a casual note. The materials — from crinkled linen to crumpled silk __ also contributed to the carefree mood.
The designer, who turns 83 next month, is securing his legacy of elegance. There was little that would challenge the norms of an Armani dresser, but plenty of fresh detail to maintain their interest. Tapered pants closed with a buckle. A shiny silken suit had a relaxed shawl collar and open pockets. A crinkly white trench was worn over a grey trouser, both with optical effects giving the impression of shimmery waves.
For fun, there were silky combinations of aqua green and magenta top and bottom combinations, broken up by grey hoodies, and he played with proportions on youthful hybrid tops featuring knit fronts and shirt cloth backs. For serious business, Armani sent five classic suits with ties down the runway.
For the final flourish, the designer reprised the key looks in all white versions.
FAN FRENZY FOR LIAM PAYNE
Cries of adoration outside the Armani theatre signalled the arrival of Liam Payne, the One Direction singer who is launching a solo career.
Payne posed momentarily under the hot sun in the concrete-clad Armani courtyard, before taking up a corner spot in the shade. The 23-year-old singer leaned against the wall, then took off his Armani sunglasses for the photographers.
“We’re in a hurry,” he said as he walked passed video cameras. Then, tossing out a small consolation, he called back, “I love you.”