Milan Fashion Week: the shattering of the suit
No more rules. The spring / summer 2018 collections presented at Milan’s Men’s Fashion Week, which ended Monday, has shattered the codes of the male wardrobe. The metamorphosis had already been happening in seasons past, but never before have designers dared go so far, as if working together to orchestrate an entire overhaul of menswear.
And the symbol of this revolution? The subversion of the tie. It almost completely disappeared from the stage, except as part of a few formal looks (at Armani or Versace) or as a cool and manly accessory, but tongue in cheek, like a last vestige of traditional menswear (at Fendi, Marni, Sulvam).
Also revelatory was the ubiquity of pink, pale pink of course, either in one or multiple pieces but nearly in all the collections. Ermenegildo Zegna, the men’s label par excellence, for example offered varied subtle shades of the color in a collection that seemed more geared to students than businessmen.
There was an emphasis on comfort, often in quite ample volumes and ultra-light materials. Zegna's artistic director Alessandro Sartori even went so far as to split the jacket on the sides to facilitate movement. The same trend could be seen in the Korean Munsoo Kwon’s collection or in the seamless, sleeveless vests from Ports 1961, just resting on the shoulders like ponchos.
Everything had been broken apart and put back together, according to the good vibes of the moment. Pants were made to be wider and more fluid, often tightened at the ankles for a more athletic look. Jackets were paired with sweaters and shorts, raincoats lost their sleeves, sweaters and tracksuits played a starring role, as did ultra-fine knits.
The look was generally more casual, often nonchalant. The game consisted of subtly mixing an easy and comfortable wardrobe with some hyper-classic masculine pieces.
Prada paired the typical tweed coat with a suit made of nylon, while Marni’s man seems to have merrily mixed and matched everything and anything he could get his hands on — such as a striped sailing sweater paired with a floral-print shirt under a sky blue suit. The most representative look of this new approach to men’s fashion was an overcoat with micro shorts, sneakers or sandals plus socks.
“The classic suit no longer exists,” said Graziano di Cintio, a buyer for the German market. “It has been unstructured and transformed into a formal-non-formal one. Eclecticism is everywhere, stripes mixed with the floral prints or checks. It is a little bit the philosophy of found objects. One dresses however one feels, without too much planning,” he explained. It is the advent of a new elegance that identifies everyone in their personal choices.
“The truth is that the logo has reached its limits. The consumer is now looking more for a product rather than an image. He will prefer Cucinelli to Givenchy,” said a pragmatic Italian buyer, who thought this year's Milan fashion week was more chaotic than usual.
With a schedule reduced to three intense and endless days, it was not very easy to keep up with all the events. And there were some complaints about the organisation. The many co-ed shows did not make much of a splash. Most of their designers ultimately offered collections quite similar for both men and women.
But none of this deterred the organisers from expressing their satisfaction with a week they deemed "full of energy and innovations, with many emerging labels."
The President of the Chamber of Transalpine Fashion (CNMI), Carlo Capasa was especially pleased about the sharp increase of foreign buyers. And the cherry on top for Milan’s fashion week was the positive quarterly results for Italian menswear, whose sales grew from 4 to 5% between January and March 2017.
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