Style » Fashion

Alternate Realities Dominate Milan Fashion Week

by Colleen Barry, Jennifer Clark
Friday Jan 17, 2014

Designers are offering alternate realities for men next winter.

Yes, tailored suits and overcoats, the staples of any wardrobe, have their place on the runways on the second day of Milan Fashion Week on Sunday.

But designers also are recognizing men's need to escape their urban work-a-day worlds and get in touch with nature. They don't go so far as to offer outdoor clothing, per se. But there is more than a smattering of short, hooded parkas worn over suits and with backpacks that suggest some other destination after the office. And many collections incorporate active wear, including athletic trousers, often knit, with elastic or drawstring waistlines and gathered cuffs.

Milan Fashion Week runs through Tuesday.


Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier’s details startle with their subtlety.

The quiet bronze plaid jacket appears to have had its hemline dipped in electric blue dye that gently fades at the edge. An argyle pattern is knitted on a bias. The asymmetrical neckline of a soft pullover hugs a shoulder, giving the effect of one-sided shrug.

Some of the details in the menswear collection for next fall and winter have feminine antecedents, like a broad scooped neckline on a sweater, but the overall feel of the collection was decidedly masculine, defined by an athletic silhouette.

"The collection is about versatility and ease," Maier said in notes.

Many of the trousers taper to ribbed cuff, mimicking active wear, and worn often with a bomber jacket and heavy shoes. Two tone knit caps tucked under the ears finish the look with a bit of whimsy. Dark neutral colors dominate.

Bottega Veneta started as a leather goods company, and Maier exploits the tradition with a cross-body satchel that is clutched under the arm, as are large shoppers often in the fashion house’s trademark weave.


Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo’s menswear collection for fall took traditional male staples like jean jackets and trench coats and re-worked them in earthy colors blended with just a hint of ethnic or nomadic pattern.

Long wool trench coats in tan were splashed with bands of sesame and chocolate. Jackets and even suits were sprinkled with stripes or patterns lifted from Native American blankets, keeping things interesting. Peacoats and military jackets came in an unexpected pale mint green.

The collection by designer Massimiliano Giornetti made stunning use of leather, as befits a house which began as a shoemaker to the Hollywood stars in the 1920s.

Boots with thick soles and a strap around the ankle came in different color variations, including a deep blue, and looked great with both suits and less formal looks. Short little jean jackets came in leather or pony skin. But for a house that makes its bread and butter from accessories, there were few bags on the runway except for hefty-looking large totes perfect for a weekend getaway.


British designer Vivienne Westwood’s menswear collection for fall was full of baggy trousers referencing hip hop music, mixed up with environmentalist messages.

There were three versions of the tracksuit, a hip hop favorite: a tight, high tech zip-up in gray, a loose and baggy one accented in black trim, and a full-on gold version with a hood.

Westwood’s clothes have strong ties to music, so the nod to hip hop seemed only natural for the women who invented the safety-pin looks that defined punk rock in the 1970s.

Fond of splashing political messages across T-shirts, she sent several models out wearing shirts emblazoned with the words "+ 5 degrees," in reference to global warming.

Her casual looks often featured low-waisted baggy trousers cut off at the knee, paired with a big sweater and oxfords, or a leather jacket, or just a T-shirt and sneakers. A raincoat as thin as tissue paper looked like just the thing to pop into a suitcase before a trip.

Next page for Calvin Klein and Moncler Gamme Bleu


Calvin Klein’s looks for next winter suggest something of a futuristic global adventurer/man of mystery.

His outfits are monochromatic in tones of camel, olive and blue-gray that give the impression the wearer can mimetically conceal himself in any environment: desert, forest or sea.

Loose trousers shimmering in copper and silver are worn with bulky graphic or quilted satin sweatshirts that relay a sense of utility and strength. For outerwear, there’s a shiny hooded parka or woolen bomber.

Suits were closely tailored, with tapered cuffs worn over laced boots. Jackets had mildly contrasting lapels, and are worn over button-up shirts, tieless. The mystery comes in with the ample backpacks that require a cross body strap, and the oversized overcoat.

If he is just going to work, why all the gear? What could this apparently mild-mannered traveler with the slicked-back hair be really up to?


Moncler, the company that glammed up the down jacket, topped off its recent blockbuster stock market debut with a debut of another sort during Milan’s menswear shows - it added womenswear to its only-for-men Gamme Bleu fall-winter 2014-2015 line.

Designer Thom Browne has proved adept at Moncler at channeling the rich visual language of sports into city wear for fashionable urbanites. For his Milan Fashion Week preview, he turned a former factory in Milan into a wood-paneled library at a British country estate, and showed a collection that pulled its inspiration from the golf green circa 1920.

The collection was a riff on diamond-print argyle done in every way possible on jackets, pants, socks and even a full-length down skirt (shown on both male and female models). For the less bold, the Moncler gray quilted down jacket, cut like a blazer, ornamented with a stitched argyle pattern, will probably be enough to recall the summer greens.

Moncler pulled off Europe’s most successful IPO last year when its shares rose nearly 50 percent on their first day of trading. On Sunday, Moncler showed it is serious about continuing to broaden its product line.

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