MILAN – Milan Fashion Week opened and closed under a beating early summer sun.
Zegna wrapped up four days of shows Monday with an outdoor event set among bales of raw linen behind Milan’s City Hall, allowing city workers a view out of their windows. For the sweltering fashion crowd, Zegna fashion offered iced coffee and linen baseball caps to keep things cool.
With temperatures rising, Milan designers focused on fluidity in dressing, allowing the body to move without constrictions. With one notable dissenter, runways offered thigh-revealing Bermuda shorts as an alternative to trousers even for city dressing. Gone are the long shorts of streetwear brands.
Some highlights from the final day of Milan Fashion Week of mostly menswear previews for next spring and summer:
ARMANI PRESENTS SIGNATURE ELEGANCE
Giorgio Armani’s signature collection was meant to show the fashion public how the urban man ought to dress, even in the heat of summer.
“I didn’t do any Bermudas,’’ Armani noted after the runway show in his central Milan villa. “Bermudas imply being at the beach, and going around on vacation.”
Still, he conceded that a front-row influencer wearing Bermuda shorts at his morning show had done so elegantly.
The 88-year-old designer said his designs start with a pencil and a blank piece of paper — a work process that was underlined by a large sharpened pencil that served as a backdrop for the runway show. His Giorgio signature was cast on the back wall.
Jackets finished most looks, soft and hanging loosely, which Armani said was a nod to Asian elegance. Prints on silken shirts, jackets and trousers recalled weaving, echoed in the espadrilles and fishermen sandals. Straw brimmed Panama hats, meant for holidays, were more often carried than worn. The color palate progressed from washed out cream, tan and sage to black and navy — at times offset by flashes of red.
Armani defused the formality of the tailoring with linen, and by keeping jackets and blazers mostly unbuttoned, so a double-breasted jacket “is no longer a double-breasted jacket,’’ Armani said.
“It is a way of dressing that is at once both elegant and comfortable,” he said. “That is why the jackets.”
The collection closed with four boardroom looks: formal dark suits, white shirts and ties. “This is to remind everyone that this is how a man dresses,’’ Armani said.
DHRUV KAPOOR’S AWAKENING
Indian designer Dhruv Kapoor’s collections are not just about style, they are about elevating the wearer’s emotions, helping them to dream bigger. It’s a lofty ambition, fitting with Kapoor’s notion that apparel, with a tweak here and there, can tap the universe’s energy.
To point, Kapoor showed spring-summer 2024 runway collection in a blue room, meant to have a calming effect.
A red jacket fires up emotions. Prints are inspired by crop circles, “which I read recently just by looking at that pattern will imprint certain things in your head, which you are going to use when the time is right for you,’’ Kapoor said backstage.
The co-ed collection was modular with a loose, easy-to-wear silhouette. For him, a pleated kilt is worn over trousers, worn with a beaded star-burst studded jacket. The same star-burst appeared on a straight skirt for her, worn with a sci-fi print sweatshirt. Three bowling-style shirts are inspired by the covers of 1970s science fiction book
“We want you to feel good when you put it on,’’ he said. “They won’t even know what has happened. But we have done a little tweak from the back.”
ZEGNA OFFERS MINIMALIST SEPARATES
Alessandro Sartori’s collection for Zegna was a meditative study of minimalist separates, in natural shades that easily mix and match.
The new Zegna “basics” included sleeveless tops and tunics, zipped collared jackets with three-quarter sleeves, notch lapel jackets with sleeves worn rolled up to show silken lining, boxy jerseys as well as jackets with neither lapel or collar. Occasionally styled with a wrapped foulard, these tops were worn with crisply creased loose trousers, or Bermuda short. Looks were finished with dark socks and rubber-soled footwear.
“There are new shapes for a wardrobe of simple garments, but inside they are very technical,’’ Sartori said.
For the color palette, ivory faded into a fleeting mint; a faded rose contrasted with bright flamingo, followed by Zegna mainstays ebony and khaki.
Linen is at the heart of the collection, as testified by the nearly 200 bales of raw linen transported from fields in Normandy, and which are destined to be transformed into Zegna’s Oasi Linen at the brand’s Italian factories. Zegna said in press notes that it is committed to having the origin and production path of all of its linen traceable by next year.
ASPESI’S MILITANT BEAUTY
U.S. designer Lawrence Steele’s design language for the Italian brand Aspesi is “militant beauty.”
Aspesi is known for its classic aesthetic is more about timeless wardrobe building than presenting a collection. Steele is taking that process one step further by proposing a way of dressing to find a common humanity.
Instead of concentrating on clothes that make the individual, feeding the ego, Steele said he is exploring “what can clothes to make us realize we are more the same.”
To that end, he is softening military looks with nylon and taffeta. A Cuban floral print dress is layered with a earth-tone military vest. The same print in a bowling shirt is layered with a white T-shirt, olive green pants and a jacket.
His own outfit is an expression of that same concept: His father’s military trousers and an Aspesi blazer, mixing the formal and the informal.
“My goal is to make the ordinary, extraordinary,’’ Steele said.