Milan mainstays Fendi and Armani close out menswear previews, capping a lighter-than-usual program with some of the Italian fashion world’s top labels altering their show rhythms.
Both houses chose special venues, away from their usual showroom locations. Fendi invited fashionistas to a garden picnic, setting up wicker chairs along a gravel park pathway and even providing straw picnic baskets with a brioche, Fendi-branded baby bananas and a ceramic cup filled with coffee, green tea, juice or water by roving waiters.
Giorgio Armani was showed in his historic headquarters in the centre of the city for the first time in nearly two decades, closing the menswear calendar.
Gucci and Prada were among the fashion houses that have decided to combine their shows with co-ed collections on the women’s calendar or do one-off shows in other cities.
Elsewhere, youthful dressing and streetwear were in focus for next spring and summer. It’s a game of sophisticated materials and edgy styling, of pushing boundaries and reaching for that increasingly significant, but typically not economically independent young customer. Highlights from the shows:
Oscar-nominated film director Luca Guadagnino continued his long-time Fendi collaboration by staging its spring-summer 2020 collection, and the Italian director recreated the sultry, summery mood from his hit film “Call Me By Your Name.”
Rather than the usual indoor runway show, models strolled along a forested path in Milan’s Villa Reale to preview a collection that blended neatly into the foliage with earthy greens, beige and browns.
“It was Luca who discovered this place, a different set, which he saw with the eyes of a cinematographer, to present a collection inspired by the botanical world, by gardening, and by travellers,” said creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi, who has been a producer on some of Guadagnino’s films and who tapped him to do a short film for a 2005 runway show.
Fendi said the collection was a return to simpler things, like caring for a garden. Models carried with them Fendi-clad watering cans, coveralls, gardening gloves and bags that had elements of a gardener’s tool bag.
The Guadagnino collaboration extended also onto the looks themselves, with botanic prints that he created while on the set of the 2018 film ‘Suspiria’, appearing on flowing kaftans — which show notes say are a reference to Guadagnino’s childhood in Ethiopia — as well as on light outerwear, as linings in mesh Fendi Peekaboo bags and on nylon tote bags.
Fendi, who suffered the loss of long-time womenswear designer Karl Lagerfeld in January after five decades with the Rome-based family-run fashion house, said the sense of wonder that comes with fashion is what keeps her going.
“It is work that allows you to keep reinventing yourself. And something that I learnt from Karl is never to look back at what has already been done, what is interesting is only what you have not done. Therefore, as soon as I finish this collection, thoughts turn to the next.”
Fendi’s cinematically choreographed runway show was perfectly gauged for an actor-fashionista like Tommy Dorfman, the ‘13 Reasons Why’ actor who is just coming off a play in New York and looking forward to beginning work on a film in September.
“The collection was so beautiful, I mean so cinematic,” Dorfman said after the show. “It’s just so effortless and wearable. I like the breezy atmosphere. I had chills, honestly I did.”
Dorfman said he loved that the fashion house famous for its intricate fur and leather pieces offered denim as a casual option.
Giorgio Armani took the fashion crowd home for an intimate show in a 17th-century courtyard of a former noble residence at the heart of his former headquarters.
The central location — just steps from Armani’s hotel and a clutch of brand flagship stores — led to some some traffic tie-ups as curious onlookers snapped photos for the arrival of VIP guests Samuel L Jackson, Aleksander Skarsgard and Richard Madden, who played Robb Stark in ‘Game of Thrones’.
Models took a slow, deliberate pace past the paired Tuscan columns along the courtyard perimeter covered in greenery, allowing ample time to take in the elegantly tailored looks.
A vest that closed asymmetrically with a geometric cut was a centre-piece garment, worn in soft velvet under a jacket or shirtless to show off toned biceps.
Soft jackets had new rounded lapel that contrasted with the angular vest. Looser linen trousers with button flies tapered harmoniously. Oversized silky shirts had a cape-like effect — and one bore the Giorgio Armani signature as a vertical print. Summer sweater dressing included comfortably velveteen trousers.
The men accessorised with a red beaded and sequin brooch, a neckerchief tied smartly around the neck and aviator sunglasses. Travel bags underlined the care-free summer mood.
A smattering of women’s looks showed the duality — from a sleek suit with a Nehru collar and satiny trouser to a cropped double breasted jacket with loose trousers, both echoing the masculine counterpart looks.
Armani basked in applause in the centre of the courtyard, as the models lined up behind him.
Sunnei took a leap in sophistication with its co-ed collection featuring highly researched materials and calm, Zen-like silhouettes.
For the unveiling, founders Loris Messina and Simone Rizzo brought the fashion crowd to the whitewashed concrete of a future public art space beneath a disused overpass in Milan.
Providing a snapshot of the 4-year-old brand’s technical sophistication, the looks included textured yet translucent knitwear, which from the front row looked soft as a sponge. On closer inspection, the knit was closer to the actual marine sponge, resistant and just a little scratchy.
The super-light knitwear lent itself to layering — over knit pants for men and a long knit dress or skirt for women. There were matching knitwear duffels, and maxi bags took on the micro-bag trend shown on other runways.
While cargo pants may be disparaged by some, the designers embraced their utility without worrying that stuffed compartments would ruin the line. In fact, the male silhouette was boxy, with oversized shirts over wide fitting shorts.
Short denim jumpsuits were wide enough to suggest a dress and ensure comfort, while a lemon yellow belted jacket created a male peplum over a matching cargo trouser. Tie-back caps finished the looks.
For women, there were super wide elephant pants that could be worn with ruched bandeau tops, perhaps layered with a sheer tunic. Satiny skirt outfits came cinched with scrunchy belts that gave a springy feel. Platform sandals added as much as 5 inches (12 centimetres) in height.
The collection featured a palette of soothing white, mix-and-match green tones, sky blue and denim along with neutrals black and brown.
Francesco Ragazzi took his popular Palm Angels streetwear brand underground, into the Porta Venezia subway station, where he staged his runway show for next spring and summer against a backdrop of greenery.
For Ragazzi, streetwear “comes from the underground, like vegetation. I want to give meaning to this.”
Ragazzi said backstage that the collection was inspired by a vintage store in Anytown, USA, where varsity sportswear, preppy college wear, safari looks mix it up alongside discarded Hawaiian shirts and tie-dye garments from long-forgotten vacations and previous lives.
He chose a Monarch butterfly as the collection’s emblem, symbolising rebirth. It appeared first and most strikingly on the front of a black car coat, as if taking off, and on souvenir T-shirts left for show guests with the inscription, “They will ignore you until they can’t.”
The show opened with a leather shirt paired with trousers had a distinctive contrast black stripe down the inseam — a stock item for the season in a range of combinations, black on khaki, khaki on black, red on black. These were paired with floral shirts or Palm Angels basketball jerseys.
Americana permeated the collection. A crisp white hospital shirt with a tiny US flag was paired with deep-cuffed jeans. A dark hoody was covered with patches, the sort collected on vacation or as Boy Scout merit badges. Myriad butterfly brethren swarm a boxy white denim top, and white jeans, both with trailing straps. A short-sleeved down jacket with a sunset scene had a decidedly 1970s vibe.
Wrap-around sunglasses in black or white completed the looks, along with oddball knitted Nordic winter hats.
Milan-based Canadian designing twins Dean and Dan Caten stuck with co-ed formula to unveil a collection bursting with patterns, shapes and volumes — and lots of attitude. There was an East-meets-West cross-over inspired by Bruce Lee films, which appear on movie poster T-shirts for him and for her.
The menswear had a fetish appeal, with leather trousers paired with lace or sheers tops. Floral silk boxer shorts stuck out of trouser waistbands, clashing with tropical tiger printed light silk shirts or kimonos that fluttered luxuriously at the slightest breeze. Trousers ranged from straight leg khaki to cuffed jeans. Wide-leg shorts with a frayed-edge denim jacket had a feminine silhouette, accentuated by a bright-red shoulder bag. A gold corset was partially unlaced under a dark car coat and olive jeans, offering a kinky surprise. Accessories included oversized backpacks, often camouflaged with patterns matching tops.
The women’s collection had a 1980s vibe with tough-girl denim in ripped skinny jeans and short-shorts. A gold lame jumpsuit laced at the side waist heralded the gender shift in the runway show. Silk corsets were worn with jodhpur trousers, and sheer baby-doll dresses offered an after-hours flouncy, femininity.
While younger brands sharpened their street smarts, Missoni is sticking with what it does best, luxury knitwear.
The newest menswear collection, previewed in a showroom presentation, was inspired by French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg, who creative director Angela Missoni described as “one of the icons of my teenage period.”
“He wasn’t the most handsome, but he had a lot of charisma. He was different from the crowd of men — very cultured, very sexy and very unconventional,” Missoni said.
The collection incorporates classic pinstripe, argyle, houndstooth and Prince of Wales patterns with Missonified-twists, to give the brand an urban edge. An argyle pattern is hand embroidered over a sweater. Pinstripe trousers come in powdery hues. And ethnic inserts give a new twist on the very French boat-neck knit top.
At Missoni, technical treatments are all in service of the knitwear. A car coat was treated with aloe for softness, with the additional benefit of having an anti-bacterial layer. Another super fine cotton summer coat received treatments to make it water resistant, while maintaining the knitwear lightness.