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Italy’s fashion capital is getting a little more traffic than usual as Milan menswear spring summer 2016 fashion week kicks off. Four days of menswear previews for 2016 spring/summer began with Emporio Armani, Dolce&Gabbana, Jil Sander, Versace and Philipp Plein. Here are some Milan menswear spring summer 2016 fashion week highlights provide by Milan Design Agenda:
Walking out after the Ermenegildo Zegna show on Saturday morning, one phrase could be heard falling from the lips of a number of menswear editors: “what a great way to start Milan menswear spring summer 2016 fashion week”. It was another pitch perfect offering from designer Stefano Pilati, who left behind the big production mise-en-scène of his previous shows for an all white — almost puritanical — setting this season. With all the artifice swept away, there was nothing to distract from a collection that started out strong and kept getting stronger.
The visual impact of the all black ensembles that opened the show made the point that the shade looks just as cool in summer as it does in any winter collection. However, Pilati lightened the mood of those dark pieces via his choice of breathable, fluid fabrics that he crafted into roomy pants, easy blouson jackets, and expertly cut blazers.
The pattern looked just as appealing when used simply at the back of a jacket or as a scarf caressing the neck and flowing down one side of a model’s body. These pieces were smartly finished off with tightly wrapped paisley silk scarfs at the wrists and some comfy slip-on fringe moccasins.
But the true breath of fresh air in this collection was the final series of all white looks. It was almost as if Pilati had ripped out the semi-sheer lining of a few of Zegna’s famed suits and reworked them to stand on their own two feet.
In this, the 40th year of his company, Giorgio Armani is sticking to what he knows best. Giving men (and women) evergreen looks that act like building blocks for a designer wardrobe. However, at his Emporio Armani show, on the first full day of the Spring/Summer 2016 Milan menswear season, there were a few subtle changes afoot. The entrance to the show venue was lined with 10 sleek Vespa scooters that had been designed in conjunction with the house. Does it get more Italian than that?
Then, once inside the theater, its traditional straight-lined catwalk had been transformed into a graphic green-lit rectangle, while rows of seating had been removed for a more intimate environment. None of these changes were dramatic. Much like the designer’s collections, the shifts were on the subtle side. Layering a bit of newness into the familiar, so as not to startle — only to satisfy.
This time on the catwalk, Armani wove into his traditional pleat-fronted tapered pants, unlined suits and preferred muted-hued separates in shades of blue, grey, and bottle green, some unexpected fabric treatments. This meant the surprising addition of a paisley print on jackets, trousers, and accessories. A polka dot patter came to life in perforations punched into pants. And glossy textiles such as nylon, silk, and burnished leathers added a polished finish to the sporty yet refined show.
A trim and fit looking Ennio Capasa was in fine form backstage before his Costume National show on Saturday. The designer, who referenced his own past collections as well as images of Daft Punk, an astronaut, and Elvis Presley in a Native American headdress, talked about wanting to continue to create a strong identity for his brand by reinforcing its already well-established codes, while at the same time bringing new experimental textiles into the mix.
He called the collection “Fusion,” which incidentally was also the title of the Emporio Armani show that had just proceeded his, and on the catwalk that blending concept was starkly evident. Biker bonded with Native American finishings. Rock and Roll teamed up with tailored suiting. And the ostensibly sexy designs were given just a whiff of S&M.
For those unfamiliar with the Costume National world, the similarities to the work currently being done by Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent surely came to mind. But Capasa was mining that 70s rebellious, rock and roll quarry long before Slimane made his first explorative dig. The problem is that when a designer begins to reference his own work so closely, he risks moving from simply alluding to it, to replicating it.
It was with quite a bit of giddy anticipation that guests walked into the Dolce & Gabbana menswear show. After all, designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana had pretty much given the theme game away with their elaborate invitation and accompanying show notes booklet. It spelled out, in nine different languages, that the collection was called “The Chinese Palace,” after the landmark located in Palermo, thus making this collection’s intention to find a way to blend the exotic Orient with the duo’s favorite Sicilian style.
This was a rather bold juxtaposition for anyone, and, in the hands of the designers, one that was a bit hit and miss. The show started out well with silk printed suits, boxy tops, and trousers coming out covered in preening peacocks, birds perched on bamboo reeds, and classic undulating dragons that slid over tie patterned backdrops.
Striking too were the graphic, almost cinematic, black and white lined fabrics. All of it had a luxe loungy attitude about it, even when deftly tailored.
The introduction of ripped jeans and some perfectly faded and fitted leather jackets also worked well within the Dolce & Gabbana universe, as did the reappearance of some of the print motifs, this time brought to life through embroidery.
It was when the Sicilian side of things began to show up that this collection started to look muddled. Rough jute tops with gilded black and white images of Madonna and child, lemon tree printed ensembles, and loud, primary-color naive drawings of Chinese iconography felt disconnected somehow from the groundwork laid in the first half of the show.
Andrea Pompilio’s poetic collections speak to a man who is bound to the past by a deep sense of nostalgia. He’s also an intellectual dreamer, a romantic, and still a little bit of a boy inside.
Set inside the gardens of Milan’s Brera Academy, the runway show was full of baggy boxer shorts and jogging pants that were crafted with silk and, at times, were patterned with oriental leafy patterns. Oversized blazers were paired with droopy tank tops, silk scarves, and accessorized with accents such as round, thick-rimmed Harry Potter-like glasses and jumbo bucket bags.
Pompilio, who has recently garnered positive reviews for his revamp of the Canali label, once again showed off his savvy for procuring the most elegant menswear fabrics. The array of patterns, clean checks, and stripes were mixed together in a tasteful fashion – indicative of Pompilio’s unmistakable and refined taste.
The slogan “Love Me Forever or Never” echoed throughout the collection and was embroidered onto shirts, tank tops, and outerwear. “It’s a sentimental request which embodies both passion and melancholy, but which retains a taste of irony in its graphic composition,” Pompilio said.
On a sultry Saturday night in Milan, designer Donatella Versace decided it was time to rock the Casbah. She crafted a billowing tent out of oversized Versace scarves stitched together for some chic sartorial shelter; then she coated the catwalk in a fine layer of golden sand before finally letting her latest menswear collection loose on the world.
With such a glamorous Arabian Nights set up, Versace could have returned to the campy fun she has been having lately with her menswear shows. Instead, in a bit of an about-face, the designer produced a collection that was decidedly commercial at its core.
Take away the scarves wrapping the models’ heads, the smattering of sequined tops, and the handful of looks that featured reprints of some of the same scarves’ motifs that wafted high overhead, and there was much to admire in this show.
The fluid layering of longer second skin sweaters and button up tops with suits or trousers both worked with the concept of the collection but also as stand-alone designs. The more forgiving silhouettes still maintained a muscular vigor and both the understated tie dye twinset and the decision to slice apart blouson jackets or knitwear was somehow tastefully salacious. Versace took her man on a bit of an adventure this season and, in the end, the escapade only made him that much more desirable.
He cray CRAY. At least that’s what people in the LBC, Inglewood, East Oakland, Detroit, Harlem, and all the other US neighborhoods feeding the Rap culture Philipp Plein celebrates so much, might call the designer. At his Spring/Summer show where Tyga performed “Rack City,” Plein staged a motocross race, a fiery police car chase, and a monster car demolition in a hollowed-out warehouse that was littered with junkyard cars drenched in gold just waiting to be demolished. And with that Plein gave the producers of “Mad Max: Fury Road” a run for their money.
Walking through a set that mirrored scenes from the film and that could compete with any Hollywood studio, hardcore-looking models, dressed as disillusioned renegades, stomped along the abandoned cars with slashed black t-shirts, studded boots, and ribbed white leather motorcycle jackets. Plein made his debut racing by the crowd on the back of a motorcycle after golden sparks rained on the runway, engulfing the crowd of fashion’s heaviest hitters in a cloud of smoke that smelled like burnt rubber.
One may or may not like Plein’s aggressive approach to fashion, but he does a fantastic job of filling Milan’s fashion week with the best action-packed show of all the lineup. In addition, Plein gave each guest a copy of an anthology of all his fashion greatest hits entitled “Planet Plein” – a keepsake for all of us who have felt like we risked charring our eyelashes at his fashion shows. At least one day we can tell our kids that WE WERE THERE and it was CRAY CRAY.
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