Milan Men's Fashion Week is under way, already with some impressive outings from Versace, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada, which drew in several big-name celebrities who sat front-row.
With a strong nod to the archives, each brand has presented shows for spring/summer 2023 that are resolutely in the now, but rework many familiar elements for a new, younger audience.
Created by the ongoing partnership of Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, this show opened with crisp single-breasted suits that gave way to a collection that mixes modern with retro.
Horizontal striped jumpers popped up, as did black leather shorts that, with a double zip front, felt vaguely 1980s. More historic influence made an appearance as gingham, now turned into lightweight men's coats layered over gaberdine jackets and those same shorts, or as shirts worn under longer leather coats.
There was a great quartet of washed denim jumpsuits that arrived collared, collarless and chopped into shorts, and offered a breath of fresh air in the middle of all those knee-length coats and ankle-cowboy boots.
As with all things Prada, this collection is underpinned by deep, philosophical musings, which, as usual, the house preferred not to share, leaving us all guessing what so many gaberdine coats actually mean.
As a sign of the offbeat pull of Prada, showgoers included the actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Rami Malek, plus Emirati twins Mohammed and Humaid Hadban, dressed in matching outfits, as always.
Also, there was former Prada model and now front-row guest, actor Jeff Goldblum, who raved about the quality of the clothes. "They not only make things that, as you can see, are kind of beautiful and interesting, but they’re comfortable, too. I mean, I'm not here to do a commercial, but I'm telling you — that’s how I honestly feel.”
Dolce & Gabbana
After almost 40 years in the business — it first launched womenswear in 1985 and menswear in 1990 — the eponymous designers behind Dolce & Gabbana are enjoying trawling through their own vast archive. As a house, it has never liked to look back, and instead has constantly found new ways to describe its codes of Italian heritage. However, a couple of seasons ago, the pair seemed to notice the treasure trove of ideas they are sitting on, and began to revisit and rework some for a new, younger audience.
For spring/summer 2023, its line is called Re-Edition, which means a lot of 1990s-era baggy clothes, seen as loose jackets and wide-legged, pleat-fronted trousers, in materials from glitzy brocade to mesh.
Woven through were sultry, sheer lace shirts, lots of leather, and religious imagery, while the suits were clean and snappy, and mostly single-breasted.
Within all of this, there was a reminder of David Beckham, whose famous No 7 kept popping up on vest tops and T-shirts. There were also plenty of ripped denim jeans and cargo trousers, and more denim turned up as fabulous, slouchy, wader-style boots.
In a nod to its alter-ego as a creator of homeware, for the Versace men's show, many models walked the runway with bits and pieces pilfered from the store.
Vases were carried underarm, and saucers dangled from waists like key fobs. Elsewhere, this would feel like an affectation, but at the house of Versace, whose mantra has always been more is more, it felt delightfully tongue-in-cheek.
In between the china, there were monogram-lined coats, silken pyjama pants in bronze and rococo-patterned suits, many of which were lifted from the archive.
One motif in particular, a drawing of a man's face, became a recurring theme of the collection, seen on hoodies, silken shirts and even a loose suit. The face, it turns out, belonged to someone from Pompeii, the city destroyed in 79AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying it under a layer so deep, it wasn't found again until 1748. In other hands, this would risk being morbid or creepy, but Versace made it almost celebratory, as a focal point of clothes that jumped from peach through deckchair striping to translucent lemony yellow jackets. The face appeared in lime, next to brilliant blue suits, and slashed, black leather trousers.