Against a backdrop of glorious architecture and great weather last week, Milan hosted its spring/summer 2016 Men’s Fashion Week. As befitting an Italian city with rich fashion heritage, many new trends made their way down the catwalk. Here are the five key looks for next spring.
An obvious trend was multiple items worn layered over each other, at different lengths, in a playful game of guess the proportion.
Versace gave us elongated salwar kameez-style tops worn under suit jackets. Loose and flapping, and mixed with fluid, dropped-crotch harem pants, the silhouette was soft and relaxed.
Diesel Black Gold, on the other hand, had tough punk-boy shirts worn deliberately untucked, and crammed under tight knits and jackets. Funnel necks were exaggeratedly high, while sleeves and trousers legs were extra long.
Gucci offered strangely beautiful shrunken clothes, à la Shaggy from the cartoon Scooby Doo. Jackets seemed too tight under the arms, while sleeves stopped abruptly three inches short of the wrist. In contrast, trousers were long and crumpled onto shoe tops, and one model was left entirely shapeless in an artist’s smock.
As expected for spring/summer, sandals featured heavily. What was new, however, was designers’ insistence on adding socks. Once considered the ultimate fashion disaster, it now appears to be a cornerstone look of the season.
Bottega Veneta, Versace and Marni all showed chunky, hand-stitched leather sandals worn with ribbed, crumpled socks, creating an air of carefree confidence.
Another surprise was Dolce & Gabbana’s reliance on espadrilles as footwear. Sent out with every outfit, whether board shorts or tuxedos, it was a shock to behold in such a shoe-conscious city.
The 1980s are officially back, with a happy mix of softly rounded blouson and boxy, square-cut jackets, in addition to high-waisted, pleated trousers. Worn rolled at the cuff, complete with floppy hair, it was Miami Vice all over again.
Marni gave us wide cotton jackets, seemingly unlined, that crumpled with each step down the runway. From Giorgio Armani, the man who practically invented the 80s silhouette first time around, came elegantly simple wide jackets flowing over even wider legged trousers.
Even Tods, that bastion of restrained Italian style, got on board with wide-cut, double-breasted suits, clipped through the cuff and cut just below the hip.
Considering how famous the Italians are for their cutting skills, it was a little surprising to see how this anti-tailoring approach had been so wholeheartedly embraced. But don’t be fooled – it takes intense amounts of skill to make a fluid jacket sit well, or an unlined jacket hang correctly. To quote Billy Joel: “You can’t dress trashy unless you spend a lot of money.”
The great outdoors was a huge influence on the runways, with many labels presenting clothes that looked fit for a camping trip, complete with hiking boots and tent-like, waterproof fabrics.
Z Zegna had kitesurfing-inspired technical outerwear (all bonded seams and water resistance), while Bottega Veneta gave us horseriding jodhpurs and sweat tops quilted to resemble sand ripples at low tide.
Diesel Black Gold dubbed its collection Urban Safari, and the brand’s creative director Andreas Malbostad spoke after the show of a desire for “exploration and adventure. A safari in an urban, industrial setting with abstract, monochromatic texture”. He gave us rebellious, tough-yet-sensible boys dressed for inclement weather.
At Fendi, Tomas Maier reminded of the need for a “spiritual rest”, and presented outfits ready for a stroll in the woods, with pebble prints and rainproof macs and trousers. Anchored with sturdy rubber-soled shoes, vaguely resembling cut-off wellies, the models looked set to tackle the moors, or as if they had just stepped off a fishing boat.
Natural motifs were across the board. Dolce & Gabbana offered suits covered in everything from peacocks, flocks of birds and tree branches, while Alessandro Michele had birds embroidered across suits, coats and bags at Gucci.
Prada offered nature in the form of cartoon bunnies, but then, being Prada, veered off towards those who work, rather than play, outdoors, with high-visibility strips, industrial piping and reinforced white stitching.
Also on show was a playful mishmash of fabrics teamed with unexpected partners.
Luxe snakeskin shirts were seen at Prada, worn over long-sleeved cotton T-shirts, while Fendi mixed molten-metallic tees, all shimmery and decadent, with matt-suede jackets and sweatpants.
Gleaming leather shorts were also teamed with sensible cotton jackets – the effect curiously louche.
Meanwhile, Bottega Veneta carved relaxed, slouchy hoodies out of cupro, a glossy natural fibre with an expensive, silken sheen.