Milan Menswear Wrap-Up: The Quiet Season

A mere four-day weekend, Milan men’s fashion week for spring/summer ’09 passed so quickly and so lightly over the fashionable horizon, one was left with the impression that it might never have actually happened. No juicy news items, no flashy catwalk tricks; our uncertain and hard times suggest that it’s better to get real—well, as real as fashion can actually get on a catwalk—saving creative outbursts for a brighter future. Yet despite a host of presentations that were a little boring and a tad too safe, an evolved vision of masculinity still emerged.

Switching, so to speak, from a shout to a whisper, the Milan man looked pensive and reflective yet prideful—like someone whose stubbornly private style needs to be appreciated up close. At Prada, it was folds and crinkles turned into odd decorative motifs on clean-cut dusters, roomy trousers and precise denim suits. The intellectual collection was also shot through with a clinical theme expressed in asylum tunics and rubber bands used as belts or to secure shoes, while short jackets and parkas held by a strap at the neck added a feminizing touch.

In one of his best collections of recent memory, Burberry‘s Chris Bailey put crumpled trenchcoats over gauze-y cardigans, t-shirts and stovepipes, singing an ode to layered dressing and muted non-colors that felt undeniably contemporary. Also in layering mode was Alessandro Dell’Acqua, and at Bottega Veneta, Tomas Maier continued his ongoing exploration of Neapolitan tailoring. While his blue pagoda-shoulder jackets paired with wide white pants had something of The Great Gatsby about them, the deconstructed blazers worn with pajama-like matching shirts and slacks suggested a sleepy vision of elegance that was truly au courant.

Meanwhile, the gangster dandy over at Dolce & Gabbana favored loungewear-style piping and necktie-worthy jacquards for his flashy, double-breasted suits. Microprint boxer shorts at Marni had both a precise and absent-minded quality, and Antonio Marras‘ faded jersey suits looked totally daydreamy. At Versace, once the temple of rock and royalty, delicacy, pastels and sportswear were the order of the day, but the effort felt rather lukewarm and not very convincing.

Taking a different tack, Giorgio Armani worked with violently saturated colors in his East-meets-West collection that was heavy on the soft tailoring and Indian references. Frida Giannini, at Gucci, opted for a sprinkle of tropicalia, painting flowers everywhere, even on the shoes of her well-to-do skinny boys who appeared to have gone AWOL in Ibiza. The Caten twins at DSquared2 went in for old-school hip-hop, complete with flares, gold chains, sport shorts and incredible basketball shoes. Italo Zucchelli at Calvin Klein delivered a sport-inspired, ultra-minimalist collection, and Neil Barrett convincingly fused tailoring and gymnasium references, adding quasi-fluorescent color along the way.

Finally, just when you thought it was a soft season, in came the futurists with their neo-geo vision of the 21st-century super-homme. At Jil Sander, Raf Simons created bold silhouettes with his color-blocked suits, and Alexander McQueen married Savile Row precision with a longing for the man-machine, working with contrasting textures and architectural cuts in exquisite ways. The future, after all, is about action, not laziness.

—Angelo Flaccavento




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