It’s tempting to always expect a somewhat coherent round-up of each day’s runway offerings, but Day Three of Milano Moda Uomo left us with a degree of ambivalence. While skill was not in question, the collections presented by Bottega Veneta, Calvin Klein and to a large extent even Prada – despite speed being Miuccia’s chosen theme this season – failed to bring any real excitement or revelations to the runway.
That being said, other Italian designers displayed expert artistry in fusing what should be the twin hallmarks of fashion: intricate handiwork and insightful symbolism. In particular, we saw Massimo Nicosia (Pringle of Scotland) and Angela Missoni (Missoni) transporting the audience to the Scottish Highlands and Madras, India respectively, without lazily dabbling in tired tropes.
Tropes be damned, but long live tropes – on the other end of the spectrum (and the Atlantic), Thom Browne took the well-established language of preppy fashion and wrote Moncler a tour de force of fresh colours and stripes that is set to fly off the shelves. Amidst all this goodness, Vivienne Westwood retained her vocal, whimsical stripes, while Salvatore Ferragamo’s Massimiliano Giornetti continued to prove his mastery in manipulating textures and colours.
The outdoors get a luxe upgrade with Bottega Veneta’s SS16 collection, inspired by hiking and getting in touch with Nature. On a runway made of chevron bamboo, models moved with elegant ease in tailored but luxurious fabric, dyed in blues, maroons, creams and greys. Designer Tomas Maier may have taken familiar utilitarian items like hunting jackets, trekking boots and safari-wear as inspiration, but what appeared on the runway still embodied the refined, urban tastes of a high-end brand. Let’s just say you won’t be wearing any of his designs up a mountain trail.
It’s hard to pin down Massimiliano Giornetti’s colour palette. Beautifully tailored suits – aren’t they all in Italy’s great houses? – came in stunning emerald, goldenrod yellow, and pinstriped burnt orange, and some while mainly black featured strips of turquoise leather down the front. T-shirts sported Bauhaus-inspired stripe details, while shirts often looked pieced together in vertical strips. The ensembles seem traditional, but there’s some sportiness, some retro kitsch, some mod – they’re always toeing the lines of established definitions. Yellow on turquoise, magenta on ochre, colours that aren’t usually associated with one another flowed together, yet provided enough visual tension to grab and keep your attention. Like pieces of artwork waiting to be explained, Giornetti’s success comes from a demonstration of his ability to intrigue while looking all business.
Known for its clean lines and unadorned designs, the American brand didn’t stray too far from its heritage despite being in Milan, offering unicoloured, smart suiting in black, sand, and olive, and sometimes a mix of either two. American staples like washed denim was matched unsurprisingly well with khaki.
Utilitarian pocket details, black sheer sleeves on shimmering tees and visor hats were as far as the designer went in terms of experimentation. Oh yes, and the sandals-over-socks, sandals-with-suits trends that teeter precariously between fashionable and outright gauche.
With “Politicians R Criminals” emblazoned across the wall and over much of the collection, Vivienne Westwood made it clear she’s not going away anytime soon. Keeping to her uncompromising anarchism, the runway was filled with designer homeless wear that looked like randomly found pieces of fabric stitched together, often moth-eaten and printed with graphics reminiscent of curtains, bedsheets or tablecloths. There were baggy pants that barely stayed on the hips, worn over drawstring boxer shorts; animal-printed trench jackets and matching triangle briefs; the occasional roughly-cut suit with upturned cuffs and asymmetrical pant legs.
It all defies comprehension, which is the point – the whimsical anarchism that rejects definition and social structure is at the very heart of this collection. Yet one thing is clear: it takes a lot of skill to match textures in a bid to create an authentic chaos, and Westwood succeeded as always.
Madras is not just an analog for summer; Madras is a place – a spiritual place. Instead of throwing the fabric in just to denote summer, Missoni brought madras into the very centre of the design ethos, along with its history and significance. Under the endless arches just outside University of Milan’s Library of Oriental Studies, models walked over red and yellow petals wearing variations of the Indian textile, first in cool hues of blue and yellow, later in warm hues of orange and red.
The layered ensembles were pretty much the same for both passages of this spiritual journey – loose shirts and shorts, day suits, pocketed jackets, fluid scarves – but it was the intricacies of Missoni’s signature weavework that elevated the spectacle from mere symbolism. Just beholding something so beautifully and painstakingly made nourishes the soul. Such fine craft accrues the due respect ethnic cultures deserve – not the empty tokenism sometimes so wantonly displayed on the runway.
What do rabbits and rockets have in common? Speed – and that’s what Miuccia Prada’s collection wished to convey, sometimes directly through zip-up jackets with slanted pockets drawn from racing apparel (namely, pit stop mechanics), other times more subtly through the boxy, assertively straight cuts of suits, slightly bell-bottomed pants that captured the model’s movements, and blurry trompe l’oeil prints.
Contrast stitching on everything from suit jackets to trenches and shorts – very, short, shorts – made a re-appearance from her fall/winter collection as well, sometimes on the same kind of shiny leather, but mostly on lighter cotton/polyester blends. Will that trend finally catch on? Time will tell, and quickly.
MONCLER GAMME BLEU
Long live prepdom! Thom Browne’s collection for Moncler Gamme Bleu was a master class in layering – quite literally. Models walked out dressed in uniform polos, formed groups around rowboats and oars sprayed in French tricolore, and off they went digging into their duffels and putting on layer after layer of preppy goodness (sometimes ending up looking much too puffy).
Besides mixing up various shades of red white and blue, Browne also employed pastel lime green and banana yellow – embracing the preppy look’s affinity with bright colours, and giving the collection a tongue-in-cheek, candy store kind of fun. More than anything, the collection was an encyclopaedic étude in stripe patterning – ticking, broken line, seersucker, bengal, awning stripes, shadowed candy stripes – all matched together without one bit of discord. Add to all that a French sensibility in slim-fitting and unabashedly mid-thigh shorts, and you have a muscular collection that resurrects the glory days of elegant sporting. All hail Thom Browne as the king of modern day prep!
PRINGLE OF SCOTLAND
For the brand’s inaugural presentation at Milano Moda Uomo, designer Massimo Nicosia brought everything Scottish to the runway – save the obvious tartan or kilts. Instead the Italian designer painted the conservative collection with the colours of Scotland’s storied landscapes; loch green from the deep lakes, milky greys and off-whites from pebbles smoothed by rapids, and storm blue from the dramatic skies.
Rattan, once extremely popular in the United Kingdom, appears as a woven lightweight sweater stitched wicker-style with linen and leather, creating an interesting sheen that seems almost metallic. Flower embroidery is another major motif, adorning in muted grace some long-sleeved tees and varsity jackets. Nicosia’s skill in tailoring shows in the relaxed yet shapely suits, but more so it is his wise restraint in translating themes and locations into design that shines the brightest.
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All photos by Regis Colin Berthelier and Guillaume Roujas, via NowFashion.com.