"THE GRAPHIC SKY'S THE LIMIT:" HIGHLIGHTS FROM MILAN MENS FASHION WEEK

January 20, 2013 3:08 PM

The next stop on the fashion calendar brings us to Italy, first to Florence with Pitti Uomo filled with menswear tradeshows and finally to Milan where some of the most renowned designers showed their newest collections for the AW’13 season.

As special guests of Pitti Uomo, Carol Lim and Humberto Leon presented their newest outing for Kenzo in Florence.  Steering away from their jungle and safari playfulness of past seasons, the collection took an austere turn, perhaps literally upwards, and into the sky.  Sprawling cumulous cloud prints permeated the collection in periwinkle, oxblood, and navy -some iterations even resembled surrealist camouflage.  The silhouette was also more severe than ever with boxy oversized tops and strong-shouldered flight jackets that were worn over slim tapered trousers tucked into covetable shoes: leather high tops complete with central industrial zipped hardware.  The designers also continued their successful collaboration with Delfina Delettrez who added militaristic accents with metal pocket squares and button coverings.  The collection was a refreshing change for the new Kenzo image that Lim and Leon began cultivating in 2011.

The somber color palette with pops of sky blue, as well as the oversized outerwear shown at Kenzo foreshadowed some of the emerging trends that we saw in subsequent shows in Milan.  At Gucci, Frida Giannini presented what perhaps was her finest menswear outing to date.  Traditional suiting and military tailoring prevailed, but felt fresh in Giannini’s hands when employed in surprisingly smart colors like a pea green cadet jacket or an oversized French blue officers coat.  For evening, tuxedos were cut slim and streamlined in scintillating tweeds.  But the bowties were the only neckwear from Gucci this season: collared shirts were loosened at the neck, or matching herringbone and tweed sport coats were worn with mohair jumpers instead of rigid button-downs.  This aesthetic statement diffused the intensity of such strict tailoring and militant references, resulting in a seductive new approach to menswear: formal, yet charmingly insouciant.

Necktie lovers fear not.  In her eclectic collection for Versace (there was grafittied denim, window pane and Prince of Wales checked separates, and voluminous and baggy leathers abound) Donatella accessorized her looks with wide ties that ended way above the navel.  When realized in exaggerated giraffe, zebra, and leopard print they had a cheeky “Fred-Flinstone-chic” feel.  Those intricately detailed sheer intimates her models dauntlessly donned under evening coats with knee-high combat boots had us exclaiming “Yabba-dabba-doo!”

Another highlight was Silvia Venturini Fendi’s latest men’s collection for Fendi.  Silvia has a knack for presenting the pinnacle runway collection: thematically focused, filled with the most covetable AND wearable pieces, and spliced with show-stopping editorial looks fit for editors and the street-style set to be endlessly photographed in come next season (or for that matter, later in Paris, if you’re lucky enough to cop a piece straight from the runway).  Starting in a palette of somber midnight blue, inky blacks and the occasional periwinkle pop, the Fendi man graduated into full-on fur, pelt, and leather looks that jived perfectly with Venturini Fendi’s Nordic theme.  A standout was an oversized fur coat complete with oversized hood (hoods were a constant theme throughout) worn over supple butterscotch leather pants stacked into shin-high fur boots, obviously intended more for the urban admirer of winter wonderlands than those ice-fishing in Alaska.  If those fluffy fur boots didn’t float your boat, desert boots came in espresso and caramel with hints of fur on the vamp, and traditional leather boots had see-through, ice-like, outsoles: all hits in their own right.

Finally (a personal favorite of mine), was Neil Barrett’s innovative and graphic outing for AW’13.  Those phenomenal oversized coats that were featured in his AW’12 ad campaign made a glorious return, this time in a more undulating, cocoon shape thanks to smart belting on the interior.  In fact, the way Barrett chose to fasten his clothes this season added to the collection’s graphic nature that he explained was influenced both by the pared-back ‘90’s and the Bauhaus.  A constant motif was luxurious breastplates in leather, suede, and pony hair that fixated themselves underneath Barrett’s sinuous outerwear and even tailored blazers.  As has also been a concurring theme at the menswear shows this season, we saw the ubiquitous (and glorious!) return of the skinny, tailored pant.  Mixed media jumpers were also a standout in obscured graphic “fabric-blocking,” and lead perfectly into the final looks of black and white zig-zag patterning.  They evoked that Twin Peaks, spooky vibe, the perfect graphic and emotional conclusion to Barrett’s latest ingenious outing.

 

 

WRITTEN BY: MICHAEL COSTA

 

 

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