Milan’s menswear season opened in sweltering heat Friday, while across Europe Italian premier Mario Draghi was vividly supporting Ukraine’s entrance into the European Union.
A major shift in the foreign policy of Italy, which historically maintained rather cordial relations with the former Soviet Union. And notable in a country whose luxury industry has always thrived in Russia and its former satellites. Markets where Italian fashion houses have stopped supplying literally hundreds of franchise stores.
Even if here in Milan the dense heat seemed the biggest topic of conversation, with half the audience in shorts, even if the models were dressed up for party action.
At DSquared2 – the day’s biggest show – every guy looked determined to have a rollicking good time in acid-dyed denim and beachcomber fantasies. While at Neil Barrett the mood was active-chic for active guys – starring snappy 90s revamps in contemporary fabrics.
That said, in a moment when Italian apparel executives are predicting a return to tailoring, at Kiton they softened up the whole mood and silhouette. Understatement at its maximum in the midst of an angry global context.
Designers have been musing on how to dress men post pandemic for leisure and career, and one clear statement was apparent at DSquared2. Why go to work at all?
Beachcomber boys, hair astray and everything unbuttoned, wearing patchwork paisley print sarongs over carpet bagger bovver boots opened the action in this show, staged inside a massive new super-sized Super Studio in deep south Milan.
Instead of trousers we got silk Indian dhotis; ballooning track pants in imperial purple; cargo pants cut below the knee with pockets big enough to hold copies of War & Peace or loon pants finished in silver metal studs. The same finish seen on some great leather motorbike jackets whose sleeves feature the Honda logo.
Plus, jackets were so crumpled, it looked like the cast had slept the night in them before hitting the catwalk.
DSquared2’s design duo of Dean and Dan Caten have gone for maximum mash-up mode in recent seasons and the results can be a tad confusing, but the net result this Friday was an optimistic devil may care statement. DSquared2 will always be a brand about celebrating life and living in the moment. Which this collection and show certainly did.
Hence their post-pandemic fashion message – flaunt it, and love it, while you can. Especially in your gilded bohemian youth.
One brand reconsidering tailoring is Kiton, perhaps the single most famous gentlemanly sartorial brand in Italy.
The result was a cool easing up, seen in a presentation inside a giant red cylinder within the courtyard of a storied Milan palazzo. Kiton’s soft elegant tailoring and signature Neapolitan shoulders composed in fresh takes of summery elegance.
The new unruffled and serene attitude coming at a complicated moment for Italian luxury. Kiton has had to stop supplying eight franchise stores in Russia – five of them in Moscow, strictly following the EU’s embargo policy.
It’s silhouette and mood, however, is infinitely more relaxed: languid soft herringbone cashmere double-breasted suits, old-world elegance at its modernist best. Slate gray fresh wool suits or faded blood red blazers, all worn with white-rimmed sneakers and loafers.
Clothes that whispered quality, even as they hid the wearer’s wealth.
A quarter-century ago, Neil Barrett was a young Turk, or Brit rather, designer revolutionizing menswear. Today, Neil is an elder statesmen, yet he is still breaking rules and reinventing the man’s wardrobe with precision and punch. The collection’s title said it all: ‘Urban Oasis’.
“I know how to dress myself but I have to dress these guys too,” laughed Barrett, pointing to his cast of rangy hirsute models in his via Ceresio headquarters.
Instead of a runway, the UK born designer presented spring/summer 2023 in a great video, projected inside a mini mountain range of dark brown sand.
“It’s good to have 10 minutes with people rather than just a quick wave or hug after a show,” added, post show, Barrett, still boasting the whip thin figure of his early days.
Neil dressing his cast in natty perforated neoprene blousons or grommeted surgeon’s tops. He cut holes pretty much everywhere; from white jean knees and ankles, to white ecru knit tops. Barrett has always had a great touch with transparency and layering – using that with great skill in combat vests and anthracite micro-mesh tops.
And when it comes to making an entrance, his redingotes with mirror sides were fabulous and flattering. In a word, this is one fashion veteran whose oeuvre and ideas has rarely looked younger.