Before we get to all the designers in Lord Byron mode, let’s address the ones that took a different direction. Raf Simons, for example, incisively focused on cut and proportion for his Jil Sander debut, and scored. The palette was strict: navy blue, black, camel, and gray. Cuts were severe: jackets and coats were boxy with dropped shoulders, and trousers were narrow. The beautifully clean knits and white shirts worn tieless throughout gave Simons’ keep-it-simple statement a quiet punch. Other designers who embarked on a quest for sharpness over frills stuck to a more familiar narrow, athletic silhouette. Italo Zucchelli cut pants super-tight and jackets very short in TV-distortion patterns at Calvin Klein, while at Alessandro Dell’Acqua crested blazers and monochromatic blouson-and-shirt combos were body hugging and chillingly precise. Zucchelli’s kinky black leather sweatshirt read like an involuntary but much-appreciated anti-dandy manifesto. The movement found a comrade in Mihara Yasuhiro‘s sinister rubber hoodie that topped a smashing lineup of pointy-shouldered suits with shredded detailing in varying nuances of gray.
Elsewhere, the goings got wild and romantic. Gucci‘s John Ray wore his Scottish heart on his sleeve: his lanky, longhaired bravehearts wore monastic black coats over frilly blouses and skinny velvet pants tucked inside lace-up boots. The unexpected about-face toward non-overt sex appeal, however, left many displeased, and the collection ended up being Ray’s last. Romanticism meant decadent egotism, too, the kind so perfectly epitomized by a slinky robe de chamber. Luca Missoni had the best, all Art Deco waves, in a fey collection inspired by Edward VIII. The blood red dressing gowns at Alexander McQueen were ghoulish and Draculean; at Roberto Cavalli, kimono collars on dinner shirts and chiseled suits suggested smoky, lazy scenarios.
Otherwise, it was an upper-class triumph of coattails and tuxedos. Costume National‘s Ennio Capasa had plenty of both in his mournful black-on-black effort — perfect for aspiring poètes maudit with a thing for bowler hats and cravats. At DSquared, Dean and Dan Caten opted for the gentrified pleasures of equestrian foxhound chic and top hats. Denis Simachev’s Arctic dandies were partial to super-furry furs; Frankie Morello fused Oliver Twist and slapstick; and even Mr. Armani charted dandified waters at Emporio and his main line, singing an ode to velvet in his trademark softly tailored but tonic mode.
Persistent military streams spiced up the action here and there. At Dolce & Gabbana, the embroidered Napoleonic redingotes lifted from some theater’s attic and the Georgian tails were not exactly noteworthy, but the brass-buttoned, double-breasted jackets — worn with cords or ripped jeans — were perfect for modern-day Bolsheviks. Neil Barrett put satin bands to fatigues and tails to cummerbunds in his fastidiously sleek Tuxedo Army collection. At D&G military meant sailors and moth holes with Madonna on the soundtrack. But it was Miuccia Prada who lifted militarism to the heights, poetically juxtaposing notions of vulnerability and protection. The animated backdrop — a digitalized video rendition of Paolo Uccello’s 15th-century painting The Battle of San Romano — set the tone, as Prada’s quixotic warriors paraded down the catwalk in fur-covered scooter helmets (they do not ride horses, after all) quilted jackets, and animal-print macs paired with cropped pants. As ever, accessories were a knockout: sturdy brogues swarming with heraldic embroideries and fantastic clutch bags shaped like old manuals. At Miu Miu, the goings got even dreamier, with callow lads playing mitteleuropa dress up in punky hiking boots. Christopher Bailey was similarly opulent at Burberry Prorsum. His sleek tailoring — suitable for a young Duke of Windsor — played up with chain belts, studs running along necklines, and hobble hats, was both assertive and delicate. No matter what, modern masculinity is all about a certain amount of grace.
Jil Sander a/w ’06-’07
Alessandro Dell’Acqua a/w ’06-’07
Missoni a/w ’06-’07
Roberto Cavalli a/w ’06-’07
Alexander McQueen a/w ’06-’07
Dolce & Gabbana a/w ’06-’07
Prada a/w ’06-’07
Burberry Prorsum a/w ’06-’07