Milan says goodbye to sport-inspired aesthetics—for now, at least—and delves into a new definition of masculinity.
There’s never a shortage of people who will—at the drop of a hat—passionately debate the merits and demerits of the global fashion capitals. But, of course, nobody debates as passionate as the Italians, right? Non-PC jokes poking fun at national stereotypes aside, Milan’s fashion scene has always had this distinct and uniquely Italian passion to it. And this vibrant energy has always accompanied every iteration of Milan Fashion Week, from the build-up prior to the shows, the runway events themselves and the aftermath that follows.
Gucci would be a good case in point. When Milan Fashion Week fall/winter 2019/20 opened, the brand was still feeling the backlash of having taken the wrong step in today’s global cultural minefield. The show it presented however, was unmistakably Gucci: costume jewelry and oversized glasses were in abundance, along with boxy suits and floral patterns. Edgy details such as fantasy masks, however, gave the runway a more dreamlike ambience. The collection itself featured high-rise pants, beefy blazers, satin outerwear and—for the streetwear aficionados—a Hawaiian shirt-jacket.
Versace also had quite a bit of news trailing its show, namely, its acquisition by Michael Kors Holdings. Regardless of how it went in the boardroom, what we saw on the runway was Versace all the way. There were loose cotton trousers, leather jackets and the ever-present homages to Gianni Versace. On the other end of the spectrum, we see bold touches envisioned by Donatella Versace and realized through colorful turtlenecks and wool sweaters among silk shirts. In a sense, it was a classic Versace collection that boldly embraced a more modern aesthetic full of color and patterns.
Fendi, meanwhile, was at the forefront in leading the masses away from sportswear this season. Part of this departure from the sport aesthetic was the involvement of Karl Lagerfeld before his untimely passing. Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director for menswear and accessories, mentioned that tailoring today is considered “the most subversive style.” To that end, Fendi’s menswear offerings for the season took the form of tailored and slouchy suits in a palette of black and neutral shades. There was also a bomber jacket bearing a reworked Fendi logo and a wealth of collaged prints depicting handwritten notes, sketches and so forth that went to and fro between Lagerfeld’s studio in Paris and Fendi’s offices in Rome. Surely today, those pieces would become even more meaningful as a series of tributes to the legendary creator.
“Silvia Venturini Fendi, the creative director for menswear and accessories, mentioned that tailoring today is considered ‘the most subversive style’”
Prada took a whole new direction this season and sought inspiration from horror flicks along the lines of “Frankenstein” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” It wouldn’t be the first time that Prada took on an off-kilter theme for its runway show, yet it was arguably much more unusual compared to what we’re usually shown. Based on this theme, the pieces showcased a blend of sci-fi and military aesthetics. Think drab olive shirts, bomber jackets, cargo pants and bags with multiple pouches. Fur-lined headwear and sweaters become a nod to the menagerie of fictional monsters, as were the lightning bolt motif and chunky footwear.
Neil Barrett also had a bit of movie magic in its show, namely the famous transparent trench coat from “American Psycho.” More to the point, the brand—which was celebrating its 20th anniversary—showcased a punk twist on tailored styling. The aforementioned translucent polyurethane trench was accompanied by ones in leather, along with classic sneakers and combat boots. The whole punk aesthetic was further enhanced through the use of plaid and animal prints. All in all, the collection—called “Born in Britain,” by the by—felt incredibly modern with a strong urban feel to it.
Ermenegildo Zegna brought a similarly urbane aesthetic to its show, although the actual collection was one meant for travelers and explorers. As such, there was an interesting fusion between tailoring and sporty elements. The former was quite relaxed while the latter gave the brand a fashion-forward look through elements like drawstring tops and plenty of utilitarian details. Modern suits were therefore paired with boots and sneakers, while sleeves and collars added touches of color whenever they peeked out from behind outerwear pieces—from puffer jackets and padded bombers to even anoraks and classic corduroy jackets.
Billionaire, a brand carrying designs by none other than Phillip Plein, introduced a unique festive touch to this season’s Milan Fashion Week. The theme of the runway show was a polo match. Yes, you read that right: Polo, as in the one done on horseback with riders trying to whack a ball with a long-handled mallet. In fact, Plein organized a short, four-minute match before the runway show began. Needles to say, it was a cold affair. The collection on show, however, was warm and welcoming. As befitting of its equestrian theme, most models wore skin-tight trousers tucked into knee-high riding boots. The star of the show was, without doubt, the jackets. These came in just about any material you could imagine, including plenty of exotic leathers such as snakeskin and crocodile.
“It wouldn’t be the first time that Prada took on an off-kilter theme for its runway show, yet it was arguably much more unusual compared to what we’re usually shown”
MSGM then turned up the heat with flames—in motif form, of course. Actually, there were plenty of other patterns in this racing-inspired collection, including comic strips, newspaper-style typography and animal prints. The runway show also progressed nicely from monochromatic looks to neutral-hued outfits, followed by blazing neon colors and metallic pieces. It was quite fun to see when your interest started to rise and when it became too much. On a more practical note, this collection has something for everyone and MSGM sure knew how to present that concept to the masses.
The return to the classics and a preference for tailoring seems to be rather universal for this season, and the general trend in Milan seems to further reinforce this notion. Yet, as always, there is this timeless charm of how the brands in this city present the whims and whimsies of the fashion world to an ever-attentive crowd from all corners of the globe.
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