Milan Men’s Round-Up S/S 2020
Achtung Digital’s seasonal review on Milan's greatest fashion moments for men
There is a lot of talk that Pitti Uomo in Florence is stealing the show from Milan men’s fashion week. With Prada opting to show in Asia and Pitti boasting the Givenchy men’s runway debut, editors and buyers were secretly complaining about the fashion relevance of their trip to Milan. But surprise, the season was strong and brought lots of new names to the forefront like Sunnei or Stella McCartney. Plus, strong shows from heavyweights Ermenegildo Zegna, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Versace, Marni and Dolce & Gabbana.
It’s a strange moment in fashion. While the industry is obsessed with sustainability and ecological issues, the big powerhouses have invited top editors and buyers to travel all over the globe to see their cruise shows. Not caring at all about the hefty CO2 emissions that come with this itinerary.
Alessandro Sartori has been opening the Milan season on Friday night with his Zegna Couture show and it is refreshing to see a designer who puts his money where his mouth is. More than 20 percent of his new collection was made of both nylon and wool up-cycled from existing Zegna waste product. Sartori even urged CEO Gildo Zegna to buy new machinery to carry out his “use the existing vision”. Kind of making him not only the chief designer for the brand but also its chief sustainability officer. As it’s about fashion here, it’s important to note that Sartori has taken the company in a new direction from a design point of view as well. A true tailor at heart, he knows how to put good use to those upcycled fabrics by fusing private tailor details and sportswear elements. It was on his runway that we first saw sweatpants combined with suit jackets and his mix and match tailoring is now industry standard. Sartori is also becoming a strong colorist; this time with his dark rust palette.
Sartori has a female match in Stella McCartney who has been thinking about ecology from the very beginning of her brand. How on earth could Kering let her go? Called “Eco Weirdo” the title of the collection acknowledges the fact that McCartney and her honesty are still considered weird in our industry. Picking Milan to show her soft-edged tailoring with boxy, double-breasted suiting with contrasting black buttons and Prince of Wales checks overlaid with animal spots does not bode well for her hometown London.
Another designer who knows her roots is Donatella Versace. In her days as Versus designer in the 90’s, she was the first to champion the fashion show as rock concert blueprint bringing many names like The Prodigy on her catwalks. So it was a nice touch that she dedicated the show to the recently deceased Keith Flint who famously fronted the electro rock band. Nothing better than showing appreciation. Mannish Prince of Wales tailoring met vibrant prints in made for clubbing gear. Swirling paisley and antique baroque prints and some old Versace ads on denim kept this affair close to the codes.
Dolce & Gabbana
Much talk about Dolce & Gabbana in the New York Times where Vanessa Friedman penned a slightly odd piece about the brand’s resurrection. One thing is for sure, the design duo has taken responsibly for their Chinese show mistakes and continue what they do best. New idea: The resurrection of archival pieces like a leather jacket from 1991 in look 91. A direct reproduction of the original with painted pin-ups. As always, the mood was kept aristocratic with plenty of silk pajamas, dressing gowns, and pareos featuring southern Italian ceramic prints.
Francisco Risso at Marni has proven his enormous creative talent but has been missing the pieces, which channel his talent commercially. So his tailoring driven show came at the perfect moment injecting energy with vibrant camouflage patterns in jumpsuits.
Sunnei has been making a name on the Milan circuit for irreverent men’s clothes and the bright attitude the brand has ushered in. Their outdoor venue and super boxy four pocket utilitarian jackets worn with shorts kept the relaxed vibe.
Dean and Dan Caten have always been responsible for making the Milan season a fun affair. Former club kids turned designer, they continue their path of mining iconic imagery to be splashed all over their sports couture which always riffs on 50’s inspired denim styles. Hong Kong meets Hollywood proved a winning formula with Bruce Lee, tigers and bright flowers printed on maxi-volume shirts and shorts.
Silvia Fendi is slowly but surely becoming the queen of the smart collaboration. After partnering with Fila amongst others for the sweatshirt of last year which combined the Fendi and Fila logos, she has now taken a more upscale approach and let the Oscar winning director and pride of Italy’s cinema culture Luca Guadagnino develop prints for her high-end gardener collection with a focus on cargo pocket pants and Barbour like outerwear. It was a fine fashion moment.
Closing out the season was Giorgio Armani who is the man of the moment. Not only does he have the power to change the schedule and make editors stay one more night in blistering hot Milan. To make it worth our while, he opened his private courtyard on via Borgonovo and with a much smaller audience showed why he is the king of commercial men’s wear. Armani never gave a damn about fashion trends but about garments, which are actually worn by his clients. But the deconstructed tailoring movement, which is sweeping fashion and the general return to more elegance, is playing in his hands. His double breasted jackets worn open in classic Armani navies with pin stripes, his Japanese denim blousons and worker pants and Nehru collared, button-up suits were le dernier cri.