By COLLEEN BARRY
MILAN (AP) — Milanese menswear designers appear to have decided the answer, but the question remains: Have the pandemic lockdowns encouraged men to adopt a more feminine silhouette, including skirts, mini dresses and capes?
Milan Fashion Week’s previews for next winter and fall continued for day two on Saturday, with guests taking advantage of the pandemic norm of social distancing from previous narrow elbow-to-elbow seating . The schedule was lightened after the start of the ramp-up of the omicron variant in Italy last month, but the fact that the live broadcasts took place was a sign of optimism after the digital-only Milan Fashion Week, in January 2021.
Eager fans again lined the sidewalks outside the shows, hoping to catch a glimpse of Italian rapper Mahmoud at Fendi, or Machine Gun Kelly and his fiancée Megan Fox at Dolce&Gabbana.
As a general rule, the menswear collections on the Milan catwalks this season have so far been conservative on the color palette, leaving the risk-taking to the silhouette.
Fendi’s collection for next fall and winter has been infused with the fashion house’s disciplined fit and elegance – with some welcome eccentricities to lighten things up. They included a leather aviator cap with the flair of a Moroccan fez.
The muted color palette of grey, black and ivory with pops of red seemed to suggest the collection was business as usual, but then Silvia Venturini Fendi debuted some surprising silhouettes, starting with a men’s bermuda with the cut and flow of a skirt, worn with sheer knee-highs and two-tone pointed Buckle Mary Janes. She then offered dress pants with wide legs that only showed at the back to be petticoated. They were paired with jackets or knitwear that had a feminine V peek-a-boo across the chest.
Leaning on femininity, voluminous trapezoidal outerwear with loose sleeves and slit crescendo with pretty layered cape coats in black and white or ivory checks.
The accessories have never been exaggerated, even tripled: Bob, shoulder bag and travel bag aligned in perfect geometry. Fendi isn’t the first to string pearls on men, their dickie collars anchored. The fashion house also continued the trend of small bags – forget the wallet and find a pocket for your phone – that men carried with chains.
While womenswear at Fendi was taken over by British designer Kim Jones, who launched a buzz collaboration with Versace, the menswear collection still bears the signature of Silvia Venturini Fendi, representing the third Fendi generation.
Machine Gun Kelly made the headlines of Dolce & Gabbana, making at least three wardrobe changes during the show and handing her jacket over to Fox in the front row before performing at the end of the show. The rapper is known for his flamboyant outfits and has no doubt found plenty to shop on the runway.
The Dolce&Gabbana down jackets and the matching pants give the Michelin man a svelte look, in candy pink or scribbled with the season’s graffiti print. The warmth was so guaranteed that at least one model wore only branded briefs. As a cold weather alternative, there were abominable shaggy snowman-like furs with matching boots and earmuffs.
The season’s jackets have exaggerated shoulders, paired with leggings and worn with peaked goggles and molded trainers. A silver sequined costume was worthy of the stage, with skimpy eyeglass frames perched on the nose in a way more reminiscent of sci-fi lasers than reading glasses. A bold graffiti-adorned streetwear ensemble was complemented by a large blue knit cap that gave a Marge Simpson vibe.
If the flash is part of the Dolce&Gabbana repertoire as much as its tailoring, what was more unexpected were the men’s skirts. A tweed midi belted with a gold chain was worn with a ripped DG t-shirt and leather collar. A black kilt had a sweater scrawled with DG graffiti. A shimmery pink-to-gold mini dress or long tunic, depending on your turn, was paired with matching leggings.
Nothing about this season’s skirt silhouette on the Milan menswear catwalk comes as a surprise to the designers of London-based label JordanLuca, which made its Milan debut.
“I think the menswear spectrum is so wide now,” said Jordan Brown, who started the brand with Luca Marchetto four years ago. “We are so post, post, post, what is menswear and womenswear.”
Tailored kilts, some with tulle inserts, are a mainstay of the season at JordanLuca.
“The thing about the kilt is that it’s 4 or 5 meters (yards) of fabric. It’s really technical, it’s a technical garment. Why wouldn’t a man wear it? Folding, pleating, sewing. It’s pretty hard to do,” Brown said backstage.
The brand’s long, exciting silhouette was accentuated with long, wing-like hems on tailored pants. The looks had a rock-n-roll vibe, fusing punk, glam and grunge-inspired elements. They included trousers deliberately ripped above the knee and fastened with a rhinestone brooch or soft mohair sweaters accented with a trailing spiky strand draped around the neck.
The collection showed a strong desire to be in the world, free from pandemic restrictions.
“The more we go back to physical shows, the more we feel like we’re going back to our physicality, our kind of human spirit, that kind of gut instinct,” Brown said.