Nowhere is the transition in the fashion world more evident than during the menswear preview shows in Milan taking place on the second of three days on Sunday.
Only in Milan does three days make for a Fashion Week; the Paris menswear calendar claims a full six days.
Designers cite a breakdown of fashion world rules. A strict four-week-a-year cycle once guided fashion capitals, covering menswear and womenswear and the spring-summer autumn-winter calendars. Now, designers are deciding to invest elsewhere to grab consumer attention.
Gucci and Giorgio Armani are both skipping the menswear cycle for next winter in Milan and offering co-ed shows in February, while maintaining a presence this month with other events. Armani opened an exhibit at his Silos museum of portraits by French photographer Charles Freger. Gucci is hosting a performance on the closing day at its Gucci Hub.
Highlights from Sunday’s shows:
Miuccia Prada observes a world becoming more “difficult, dangerous, boiling” and interpreting it through fashion.
Her latest collection had a strong military silhouette, but offset with whimsical details.
“It came out naturally,” Prada said. “I didn’t know that I wanted to do it, but the only thing I had in mind was military.”
Prada’s looks mostly were done in black and navy, starting with elegant men’s suits first shown with the jacket casually opened, worn shirtless and having slightly cropped trousers that revealed bare ankles.
But the collection had more than one mood, alternating between the disciplined feel of double-breasted jackets fastened closed with a triple belt and the rock-and-roll of bare chests adorned with chunky male necklaces under open jackets.
Ever playful, Prada softened the military looks with fuzzy, colourful patches on the shoulders, like epaulets, and tufts of coloured fur accents peeking out of caps.
Prints on shirts included lightning bolts and beating hearts placed with anatomical correctness, Prada’s nod to cheesy horror movies.
The soundtrack included harder-rock versions of music from the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ and ‘The Addams Family.’ Prada said she wasn’t necessarily a fan, but was fascinated that the writer who created Frankenstein’s monster, Mary Shelley, initially had to publish under her husband’s name.
The designer punctuated the show with looks for women, including tailored suits with external bustiers, cocktail dresses with elegant necklines and romantic full skirts with crystal accents. A cargo dress in fitted black was paired with a furry, red safari hat.
British designer John Richmond marked his return to the Milan fashion calendar with a co-ed collection featuring dark military looks for men and elegant 1940’s starlet-inspired dresses for women.
“It is almost two collections. I am not trying to do one thing that works for men and for women,” Richmond said.
Richmond embroidered Japanese tableaus on recycled military garments and bags for men and decorated recycled Levi’s with sequined wings across the hips for women.
“We don’t have to make more jeans. There are already so many jeans in stock,” he said.
Women’s dresses were extremely elegant, with pointy shoulders, deep V-necks and asymmetrical mini-hemlines. Richmond designed wedge boots with fringe detailing for women.
For men, he stuck to the tried-and-true Doc Martens footwear.
The designer said his exhortation to reuse, recycle and reduce is not a one-off for this season. “This is a theme forever,” he said.
German designer Philipp Plein staged a game of polo in the centre of the runway for his Billionaire collection, giving a plug for his sponsorship of the Monte Carlo Polo team.
For four minutes, polo players on horseback played a fast-paced match on a courtyard covered with faux snow in what is likely a Milan Fashion Week first. More horses were brought on to the field after the match, forming a central runway for the models.
It was little surprise, then, that the collection for mature men featured equestrian looks, including tight-fitting jodhpurs, reptile riding boot and matching caps and even saddles. Blazers had leather or fur lapels, and fur coats draped over silken pyjamas, perhaps to take a last look at the stable. Flashier looks include bold medallion print suits featuring the Billionaire logo alternating with the stallion profiles. They were worn with leather gloves, a neckerchief and a blanket draped over the arm.
After the show, the fashion crowd had to be directed away from the horse droppings on their way out.