In the relentless cycle of fashion, the year begins on the dot on January 6, with the London Collections: Men, making the holidays a distant memory.
On Tuesday, the menswear parade completed its second round in Milan, where Italian houses like Prada, Bottega Veneta and Versace contributed to the evolving discourse on men and clothing, with their fall/winter 2014 runway shows.
But one has to ask is it the men wearing the clothing or the clothing wearing the men? One could think of only a minority of men-folk that might wear half of the beautiful, sometimes decadent designs perhaps even a decade ago.
There were homoerotic looks from Versace, including underwear-revealing outfits inspired by bikers which looked, however, like a collection dedicated to a satirical sartorial hall of fame, from fun denim to Elvis jackets, or cowboys – think amusing studded cod pieces worn over trousers – and Sheriff stars adorning jackets.
More muted were the cozy almost grungy knits from Missoni, giving men perhaps as much as choice as women from the range on offer from the various fashion houses.
Or think the off-kilter updates on the tuxedo from Prada which were on show in this season of sometimes daring outfits for sometimes dandy men, in distinctive color palettes, with endless plays on the suit and a bent for narrow trousers and short jackets that sometimes looked borrowed, thanks to their deliberately tight, fit.
Dirk Bikkembergs, he of the Antwerp Six, presented what he called the Ski Rider man, or designs that looked made for an updated “Star Trek” officer, with biker-style leather jackets featuring diagonal lines that gave them the feel of a funky uniform.
There was also a touch of the Yeti. Consider a flamboyant fur coat worn with slightly ruffled green leather pants, suitable for a high-end night club, or a jaunt around a gentlemen’s farm.
The collection certainly gave men a chance to show off and strut their stuff.
Reflecting the label’s furrier roots, fur was also big at Fendi which played with the suit, and created lavish overcoats that looked like something out of “The Great Gatsby,” for its sensual models with pretty faces who looked elegant and sometimes flamboyant, in their mix-and-match outfits of woven sweaters, suits with skinny shiny trousers that sometimes cropped above the ankle, and jackets that looked either perfectly tailored or like a Thrift shop find that almost fit.
Gucci stood out for its choice of pastel color combinations, ranging from dusty pinks and baby blues that looked inspired by baby-wear, to rock star sexy black suits worn with skinny tailored trousers, and Chimney-Sweep-style heavy black jackets and caps, fit for a London winter, all void of the house’s signature logo.
It was a bit more blokish at Andrea Incontri, with masculine looking coats and more normal looking trouser fits, and an ugly color palette of mustard, navy and red, which seemed a bit garish compared to Gucci. It was men’s fashion but in a slouching around cool.
Red was also on the table at Prada which featured a similarly wintery palette with its mix-and-clash combinations of, say, purple trousers paired with a gray-blue jacket that looked like it might have been taken from an uncle’s outdated wardrobe, and a striped scarf throwing in a dash of red over a beige shirt.
There were suits in shades of autumnal browns and shoes in various shades of red, fur in the form of a sassy knee-length coat and a rough-and-tumble vest-style top, worn with baggy blue trousers that looked stylishly loose.
While the clothes looked tailored the outfits sometimes had a jumble sale aesthetic, perfect for a jaunt down Broadway on a winter’s day.
Some of the men looked androgynous and sensual in their revealing T-shirts and tight jodhpur-like trousers, or daring touches of fur found beneath the lapel of a jacket or coat, adding a saucy touch.
Elegant looking trousers were sometimes worn at Prada with a shirt and overcoat, rather than a suit jacket. Colorful collars on shirts, bright reds that brightened a pale beige shirt, worn beneath a blue jacket, worn with purple trousers, accentuated the focus on bold colors.
Etro presented a dazzling collection of what began with tailored suits in beautiful checks, houndstooth and plaids, then extended into rich Indian-looking paisleys, adorning knee-length coats, with a bit of the sophisticated rock star about them.
The collection continued with black suits worn over silk waist bands with matching bow ties, for these well-groomed men who were accompanied on the runway by some of the house’s tailors.
This was another collection that made one think about color, with different shades combining to create eye-catching palettes, that looked like something from the Orient from yesteryear.
However, a muscled model wearing tight trousers and a slightly small jacket with a stumpy tie, made it feel like the next gen were making the suit their own in this beautiful and slightly eccentric collection.
“At Milan men’s week, we’re excited about tuxedo updates, where we’re seeing designers like Prada and Andrea Pompilio taking any and every part of a traditional tuxedo and remixing it for an artistic, jumbled look,” said Andrew Luecke, Stylesight Menswear Editor at the trends forecaster. “There’s a similar trend in suits, with very precise tailoring that’s slightly off. Things like overly long trousers with huge breaks, or suit jackets that are a bit too long, but fit perfectly in the shoulders. It’s hard to execute this off-kilter tailoring, but Marc Jacobs and Prada have done a very nice job of it, especially using a mix of earth tones, like olive and tobacco, and dark, rich colors like bottle green, eggplant and midnight blue, to emphasize the nostalgic ‘70s feel of these looks.”
Continuing on from some of the themes found in London, he added:
“From the London Fall/Winter 2114 men’s collections we’re seeing warm, neutral suits and blazers, especially in tan or brown shades, looking very fresh, especially as these items are presented with that lovely, precise British tailoring. There’s also a nice ‘70s update theme running through a number of the shows, where designers as diverse as Richard Nicoll, Hackett and Jonathan Saunders are using winter brights like magenta, orange and pink to create a sort of psychedelic collegiate look. Graphic overcoats, particularly in black and white, are another forward look that we like very much, as they do a nice job of combining London’s two trademark styles – British traditionalism and innovative street fashion – into one eye-catching, yet wearable garment.”