The menswear designers in Milan provided some of fashion’s finest hits this season. Stuffy suits gave way to relaxed fits, while classic prints and over-zealous colors coexisted amid the dark rock-hybrid motifs of the moment. Youth’s seductive influence on society was also apparent through leisurely, optimistic notes that tempered an otherwise flamboyant mood of ostentation.
Etro’s menswear collection might have been over the top, but it nonetheless offered a harmonious balance. Light and airy pajama-like suiting made for an eloquently accessorized collection of paisley and pattern printed outfits. Swimming in fringe and floral scarves, models were topped off with wide-brimmed sun hats that concealed their faces. Seemingly geared for a pompous, print-wearing man on safari, it would be fair to describe this as giddily gaudy.
The prints at Prada were just as bright and erratic as they were contextually traditional. Miuccia’s models lugged golf clubs between holes and dressed the green course in Miami-inspired floral pants, checked suiting and vibrant blouses. Likewise, black-and-white checkers and red-and-white stripes opened the Alexander McQueen show, eventually giving way to a procession of regal velvets that segued into the elastic pajama-styled trend seen elsewhere. Just as Prada intersected golf and glam, designer Sarah Burton promoted the combination of comfort and chic with oversized blouse button-ups and white jeans tapered off with toe-hugging dress shoes. She fittingly brought closure to the show with an impeccably tailored flame-emblazoned suit that proved her loyalty to the late McQueen’s vision.
Costume National’s solid, rock ‘n roll-inspired collection featured deconstructed tuxedos, tight sheer crop tops over skin-tight tees and sleeveless, moto-inspired jackets. Shorts were shorter, tops were zipped and buttoned to the neck, trousers were tailored with relaxed pockets and fiery reds peeked out in belts, knits and head-to-toe ensembles (think trenches and tracksuit jackets). As a final touch, shoes featured a black-and-white micro-check pattern that evoked those seen in Prada and McQueen’s shows. DSquared also played into youthful liberties with urban-influenced looks that seemed to speak to a global brand of hipster chic with distressed materials, slouchy silhouettes and a general air of confident indifference.
Bottega Veneta, Giorgio Armani and Gucci all incorporated the popular geometric design motif, albeit in varying interpretations. Gucci’s on-trend micro-checked parkas and Prince of Whales raincoat were further complemented by leisurewear-inspired looks like classic blazers paired with relaxed, collar-less shirts. Zegna’s similarly relaxed looks featured baggy pants and wide shoulders that were controlled even in their excess, while Marni flirted with haphazard summer style by pairing two-tone shorts and classic straw hats with rolled up socks befitting a formal suit.
Versace’s healthy palette opened with a double breasted Prince of Whales suit and later introduced prints in canary yellows, emerald greens and solid cognac leather browns. Like a ripened fruit, the layers of the show unraveled as the conservative suit from the beginning shifted to undressed models in terry robes and poolside attire by the conclusion. Missoni’s color preferences were considerably more muted, but nonetheless spoke to an emphasis on visual stimulation by contrasting understated, athletic-influenced outerwear with loudly patterned shirts and tops.
At Jil Sander, models resembled youth in revolt as Raf Simons’ collection mimicked Mark Leckey’s 15-minute video graphic piece, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore. Based on English club culture, Leckey’s video came to life as nomadic boys walked in high-waisted shorts reminiscent of ‘40s pinups. With crocheted sweaters and lacquered eel skin jackets, materials managed to be simultaneously exotic, crafty and suggestive. While short shorts revealed the pale skinned legs of clubbing life—sleeping by day and partying by night—garish bags hung from models’ necks as accessible carry-alls for passports, ID’s and other necessities.
This youthful theme prevailed in Dolce & Gabanna’s multi-faceted collection as well. Where business and pleasure mixed, classic suits were specifically tailored for the younger, more boyish audience. Short sleeved white shirts, skinny black pants with fitted waists and sheer androgynous tones in netted fabrics and mesh-like layers played directly into a juvenile exuberance.
In a literal nod to the power of youth, Roberto Cavalli passed the label’s reins to his 25-year-old son. While Roberto watched on, Daniele’s Riviera-influenced theme bridged American basics (jeans and leather) with European cuts, hems and staples. A repetitive bright blue was used throughout the entire collection in an obvious ode to the Cote d’Azur theme and spirited European culture.
Upstart Umit Benan proved why he deserves to take over Trussardi with a focused and visionary collection that was as much about storytelling as it was about style. Staged as a hypothetical luncheon in which the descendants of menswear icons like Nino Cerruti pay tribute to their predecessors, the collection had the unique quality of conveying a futuristic vintage feel in yacht club-friendly looks and brightly patterned, playfully tailored pieces.