The Italian men’s shows are nothing if not fashion’s fortress of artisanal excellence, and on the third day of Milan Fashion Week, designers were all about heritage and craft.
“It’s a little bit metropolitan highland,” Silvia Venturini Fendi said after her show, which marked a departure from the house’s presentation format in favour of a runway. This, of course, was covered in charcoal goat fur underlining the collection’s celebration of the Fendi family’s field of specialty. “It’s a man who is very connected to his primitiveness by definition, using those kinds of materials, which are the human being’s first garments,” Fendi noted, pointing out the nature-centric character of the collection, which fused the heritage of the house with a sense of British heritage, most notably in an immaculate grey Prince of Wales check coat and tweed tailoring.
In its dim darkness, Fendi’s autumn/winter 14 show echoed the social despair that’s so eagerly jazzing up the season, but the designer wasn’t about to let it ruin her good mood. “I think it’s free-spirited, and there’s also a lightness and an ironic vibe that seems important when you deal with such luxurious materials. That’s why I’ve been playing with all these small things like the heads with the monster eyes, or these gloves that remind me of ape men,” she said, referring to the fun-sized Yeti mittens that appeared throughout. “I think irony is a key word in these times. When the game is tough you have to play tough, but a good dose of humour helps you a lot in life,” Fendi said. Giorgio Armani would no doubt agree, although at Emporio Armani the season was dedicated almost entirely to the grey shades of nature, wrapped into a sporty yet dandy collection.
Speaking of Italian dandies, they wouldn’t be much without their beloved tailors and the proud craftsmanship passed on through them. This was ground for celebration for Kean Etro and Antonio Marras, who both dedicated their collections to the suit-makers of Italy. “Holy tailors, sew for us,” read the Etro show notes as models walked the runway alongside the real tailors of Puglia (coming to a TV network near you), who had inspired a collection of check-tastic 60s playboy suits and super tight trousers that left little to the imagination. Drawing on that same decade, Marras paid tribute to his father – also a tailor – with a show of cool, easy daywear that played on the Italiano-Americano rock ‘n’ roll theme personified by Marlon Brando and James Dean.
It was a look likewise favoured by Frida Giannini, albeit in the dusty pastel variety as the designer drew on the colours used by Canadian artist Kris Knight for her Gucci collection. This was new romanticism, complete with sailor caps and red shoes and an all-black rock ‘n’ roll mod segment at the end. If Marc Jacobs’ autumn/winter 14 collection was rock ‘n’ roll, it was thanks in no small part to its two muses, Bryan Ferry and Jack Nicholson by way of the 70s, who had inspired a kind of glam playboy collection presented casually by in-house models at the designer’s showroom, where red and green peacock prints and a bomber jacket with bullion embroidery from the shoulder and down the sleeves were particularly irresistible.