MILAN – Milan menswear designers seem to have decided on the answer, but the question remains: Have the pandemic lockdowns emboldened men to embrace a more feminine silhouette, including skirts, mini-dresses and cape coats?
The Milan Fashion Week of previews for next winter and fall continued for the second day Saturday, with guests enjoying the pandemic norm of social distancing compared to previous cramped shoulder-to-shoulder seating. The calendar was slimmed down after the omicron variant started its surge in Italy last month, but that live shows went ahead at all was a sign of optimism after January 2021’s digital-only Milan Fashion Week.
Eager fans again crowded sidewalks outside runway shows, hoping for a glimpse of Italian rapper Mahmoud at Fendi, or Machine Gun Kelly and fiancée Megan Fox at Dolce&Gabbana.
As a rule, men’s collections on Milan’s runways this season have so far hewed conservative on the color palette, leaving the risk-taking to the silhouette.
Fendi’s collection for next fall and winter was infused with the fashion house’s disciplined tailoring and elegance — with some welcome eccentricities to lighten things up. They included a leather aviator cap with the flair of a Moroccan fez.
The toned-down color palette in gray, black and ivory with flashes of red seemed to suggest that the collection was business as usual, but then Silvia Venturini Fendi threw in some surprising silhouettes, starting with a men’s Bermuda short with the tailoring and flow of a skirt, worn with sheer knee-highs and buckled two-tone pointed Mary Janes. She then proposed wide-leg dress trousers that only from the back showed to be skirted. They were paired with jackets, or knitwear that had a feminine peek-a-boo V on the chest.
Leaning in on the femininity, voluminous, trapezoidal outerwear with loose, slotted sleeves built to a crescendo with pretty, layered cape coats in black and-white check, or ivory.
The accessories were never exaggerated, even when tripled: Bucket hat, cross-body bag and overnight bag aligned in a perfect geometry. Fendi is not the first to put pearls on men, theirs anchored dickie collars. The fashion house also continued the trend of tiny bags — forget the wallet and find a pocket for your phone -- which men carried on chains.
While womenswear at Fendi has been taken over by British designer Kim Jones, who has launched a buzzy collaboration with Versace, the menswear collection still carries Silvia Venturini Fendi's signature, representing the third Fendi generation.
Machine Gun Kelly headlined at Dolce&Gabbana, making at least three wardrobe changes during the runway show, and handing his jacket to Fox in the front row before performing at the close of the show. The rapper is known for his flamboyant dressing, and no doubt found much to shop on the runway.
Dolce&Gabbana's puffer coats and matching trousers make the Michelin man look slim, in bubble gum pink or scrawled with the season’s graffiti print. Warmth was so guaranteed that at least one model wore just branded briefs. As a cold-weather alternative, there were abominable snowman-worthy shaggy eco-furs with matching boots and earmuffs.
The jackets of the season have exaggerated shoulders, paired with leggings and worn with visor glasses and molded sneakers. A silver sequined suit was stage-worthy, with skinny eyeglass frames perched on the nose in a way more suggestive of sci-fi lasers than reading glasses. A bold graffiti-emblazoned streetwear ensemble was finished with a tall knit cap in blue that gave a Marge Simpson vibe.
While flash is part of the Dolce&Gabbana repertoire as much as its tailoring, what was more unexpected were the skirts for men. One tweed midi belted with a gold chain was worn with a ripped DG T-shirt and leather collar. A black kilt had a DG graffiti-scrawled sweater. A shimmering pink-to-gold minidress or long tunic, depending on your spin, was paired with matching leggings.
Nothing about this season's skirt silhouette on Milan menswear runways is surprising for the designers at the London-based JordanLuca brand, which made its Milan debut.
“I think the spectrum of menswear is so broad now,’’ said Jordan Brown, who launched the label with Luca Marchetto four years ago. “We are so post, post, post, what is menswear and womenswear.”
Tailored kilts, some with tulle panels, are a season mainstay at JordanLuca.
“The thing about the kilt, is it is 4 or 5 meters (yards) of fabric. It is really technical, it is an engineered garment. Why wouldn’t a man wear it? The folding, the pleating, the stitching. It is quite tough to make,” Brown said backstage.
The brand's exciting long-lean silhouette was accentuated by long, dragging wing-like hems on close-fitting trousers. The looks had a rock-n-roll vibe, fusing elements inspired by punk, glam and grunge. They included trousers purposely ripped open 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 out in the world, liberated from pandemic restrictions.
“The more that we return to physical shows, the more we felt we are returning to our physicality, our kind of human spirit, that kind of visceral instinct,’’ Brown said.