Milan Men’s Fashion Week spring/summer ’11 was all about the effectiveness of layers. From Dolce & Gabbana, Ermenegildo Zegna and Alexander McQueen’s milestone celebrations to a host of new trends and silhouettes, the menswear shows indicated a turn toward designer depth of vision and aesthetic nuance.
Zegna marked a century in fashion, showing both its founding line and Z Zegna line back-to-back at La Triennale. The pressure clearly didn’t affect the fifth generation family-run business, which has long been renown for taking design control to new levels by staying involved in every step of production—from the fabric mill to the design studio. This season, Zegna produced the “zero weight jacket,” which was aptly named for its lightweight fabric (145-grams/meter). It seems this vintage style factory has no plans to stop innovating suiting just yet.
With a mix of provocative prints and seemingly camp colors, Dolce & Gabbana has chipped away at stiff male stereotype over the last 20 years to define the quintessential “metro” man. This season, the unstoppable duo used picnic rug plaid and apron check to trim, patch and print shirts, shorts and suit jackets this season—with tongue, as always, placed firmly in cheek. The color palate of leaf greens and cobalt blues could be likened to what you would find in a well-maintained national park, while tablecloth check reds and tropical prints were worked into double breasted suit jackets and crushed cotton trousers alongside the usual snug-fitting shorts.
The Alexander McQueen collection—titled “Pomp and Circumstance” after a military march common at graduation ceremonies—marked the first solo foray for creative director Sarah Burton after
the founder’s passing. Baggy shirts with suctioned sleeve work, wrap-around leather waist belts, button-down cutaway jackets and a mix of textures made for a collection of layered lengths that only a McQueen runway would have the strength to maintain. Burton’s work is to be revered—only McQueen’s closest confidant would be able to create a look that mixes the swagger of council estate lads with the minx of a man who enjoys high tea at The Ritz.
The abundance of leather used in collections for Bottega Veneta, Costume National, Burberry Prorsum and Emporio Armani was a further revelation of things to come. Seeing a textile that’s normally reserved for the depths of winter in patchwork on knitwear, open-toed ankle boots and zip-up jackets for seemingly warmer months suggests that these designers may know something about global warming that our heads of state have yet to discover.
There was plenty of romance to be found in collections by Missoni, Gianfranco Ferre, and Prada, whose varying lengths of drop crotch trousers made for a whimsical take on tailoring. For the former, Angela Missoni worked with billowing “layers of memories” in order to build on her house’s restricted silhouette. Using a mix of knitwear in long cardigans and vest tops, along with collared and cuffed shirts of varying lengths and even nylon zip-up jackets, the collection looked suited to that of a wardrobe of an independent film from the ’70s. Tri-colored deck shoes and tailored linen shorts completed the Italiano prep look. Marni, meanwhile took a similar approach to layering with double-sleeved shirts or jersey tees mixed with contrasting knits.
Blocked colored shirting and cotton suiting also took on a back-to-school vibe with the use of linen parkas, windbreakers and backpacks thrown into the mix. Raf Simons for Jil Sander
mixed urban-inspired silhouettes with a refined use of pop colors on tight-fitting floral t-shirts alongside skinny suiting with waist belts. Jil Sander’s signature narrow tailoring was highlighted against flowing layers of shirts and jackets in burnt orange, cobalt blue and bright pinks and greens.
Buttons were done up close to the collar and pants came in every length but long this season, with men wearing layers of loose fitting waist-coats, cardigans and jackets along with an array of ankle hugging lace-ups.