The very best of Milan Fashion Week Men’s SS23
From Fendi's summer dressing to Jordanluca’s Freudian tailoring, here’s what went down at the city’s summer menswear fashion week.
Images courtesy of gorunway.com
Ciao, amori! Indeed, after London comes Milano, and this season we were privy to a bounty of top-tier fashions at the city’s SS23 menswear week. From elevated normcore at Prada to maximalist exuberance at Versace, kooky visual puns at JW Anderson to the rise of bold young talents like Magliano, this was a season in which Milanese menswear – which can sometimes err towards predictable – felt particularly varied, with a sense of fresh creative energy palpable in the air. Here, we give you the full lowdown on what went down in Italy’s most stylish city.
One of the qualities that have most distinctly characterised the SS23 menswear collections we’ve seen so far is a breezy sense of optimism, an ease that feels like a counterpoint to the more peacockish spirit we saw so much of for SS22. That was what was characterised Emporio Armani, who delivered a collection that expertly toes a line between urban sophistication and a holiday-ready insouciance. The sharpness of lightweight wool blazers was offset by fluid wide-leg trousers that floated with each step, while vertical slashes and playfully yanked collars brought a measure of hot-boy-summer sensuality into the mix. A craft-y sensibility informed sky-to-sea-blue jacquards and prints that had the free feel of spontaneous brushstroke, as well as moments of crochet and weighty mariniere knits, which were all offset by sporty tracksuits in contrast tones. While the note on which the show closed – a Caucasian male model with long matted dreadlocks, dancing down the runway to a reggae soundtrack – did feel a tad dated, it was otherwise an eminently contemporary show for the summer ahead.
Holidays. It’s a theme you’re likely to hear a lot about over the SS23 season, with – as you’ve probably clocked if you’ve been to an airport of late – everybody seeming to have caught the travel bug en masse. No less affected than any of the rest of us, of course, are designers, with the prospects of no longer having to just dream of jetting off, but actually being able to do so, proffering a flurry of vacation-minded clothes to usher in this new age of free travel. That was certainly the sentiment that pervaded the menswear collection that Silvia Venturini Fendi presented today in a Milan so scorching, it felt like a tropical locale unto itself. “Approaching summer dressing as a round-the-world ticket to holiday destinations near and far,” as the show notes, it was a body of work imbued with a breezy joie de vivre. Boxy, long-lined, peak-lapelled blazers in sandy beige and Mediterranean blue were sported by bucket-hat-toting, bare-chested boys also wearing louche, wide-leg wool trousers and loose kaftan shirts decorated with needlepoint floral embroideries that brought a cheery splash of kitsch. Head here for the full review.
Self-sabotage is a fundamental human value, you could argue. As we tread life’s path, the ones who most often put up obstacles are, well, ourselves. That was the point from which Jordan Bowden and Luca Marchetto departed this season with their decadently moody collection, titled ‘Sabotage’. Inspired by the Freudian notion of ‘death drive’, the counter-intuitive impulse that drives us to make, what many would say are, all the wrong choices, the London label explored why we’re all so compelled to fuck things up for ourselves, like moths drawn to a flame. One thing the duo certainly didn’t fuck up, though, were the clothes themselves. Tailoring and outerwear was proportionally boxy and expertly crafted, with gigantic horizontal slashes going from sleeve to sleeve rejoined by glinting metal zippers. At times, the pieces were styled with the zips open, causing the sleeves to gape at the bicep. Elsewhere, denims were brutally distressed and the brand’s signature trouser, a bottom-heavy slightly gothic silhouette, dragged along the floor, all serving as visual ciphers for the collection’s contemplative theme.
Let’s get one thing clear: Versace isn’t just a brand – it’s a whole damn lifestyle! It’s a fact that you soon realise on attending one of the house’s shows, staged in the sprawling garden of the Milanese palazzo that it calls home. While the usual coterie of press, buyers and co. turned out for what was its first men’s runway show in three years, the most notable attendees were the die-hard fans who showed up in full force, decked head to toe in decadent silks printed with Versace’s signature brazen Greco-Roman-inspired prints. Head here for the full review!
Hauling fashion out to a crumbling edifice located next to a municipal landfill on the outskirts of Milan at 10am is, granted, a risky choice, but it’s one that Luchino Magliano, the namesake founder of one of Milan’s buzziest young menswear labels, was willing to take. Mercifully, it paid off with his emotionally rich presentation easily among the week’s highlights. Along a glass runway installed before artfully assembled vintage benches and chairs, a notably diverse (especially for notoriously institutional Milan) cast of models sauntered and lingered about the decrepit space, like ghosts from its past. The clothes they wore have a similarly spectral feel to them – shirts were draped in satin and gossamer lined, or wrapped, knotted and haphazardly belted; trousers had a subtly ballooning proportion to them, and oversized suiting slouched off the shoulder. The earthy palette of the looks contributed to the quiet melancholy that seemed to linger over this season’s offering, though it wouldn’t quite be right to say that it culminated in a sense of gloom. Rather, what was on show here was an assured display of an emotional rawness, something that made itself felt in the collection’s rough-hewn edges, hearty textures, and garments like a broken-heart souvenir sweater and blue denim jeans with soil-stained knees. Milan isn’t necessarily a city known for its emerging talents, but Magliano is doing a damn good job of proving why perhaps that should change.
In fashion, framing is everything – a shift in the context in which you see a particular look or garment can dramatically affect how you perceive it. It was of note, then, that on walking into the Deposito of the Fondazione Prada for the house’s SS23 menswear show, guests were greeted by a vast, white-paper-walled room, accented with drapes of red gingham curtains. Debrided of distraction, it offered a clean, clear space for the clothes to speak for themselves. Read the full review here.
On the second day of Milan Fashion Week Men’s, Jeremy Scott furthered the revival of fashion illustration that we’ve seen much of on runways of late, in a presentation that paid homage to the life and work of artist and photographer Tony Viramontes. Best known for his bold, bright work in the early 80s, as well as his contribution to Ray Petri’s Buffalo styling movement – a seminal moment in fashion history, and a guiding factor in what has shaped what fashion imagery looks like today – he sadly figures among the long list of creatives lost too soon to the late-80s AIDS crisis, gone before they could enjoy the credit they were due. Jeremy’s Moschino menswear collection, then, was an attempt to posthumously give Tony his flowers, and introduce his work to fresh eyes. Drawing inspiration from the bold palettes of his work, suiting was cast in a range of rainbow hues, featuring technicolour squiggles and glittering embroideries of Tony’s illustrations. That sense of camp was grounded by the gritty punkishness of leather baker-boy caps, wrap-skirts and calf-cladding boots, resulting in a fittingly comprehensive and overdue toast to an iconic artist.
If there’s one thing to expect from a JW Anderson, it’s, you guessed it, the unexpected. As fashion’s undisputed king of haute-wackiness – both at this namesake label and in his tenure at Loewe – Jonathan has cultivated a feel for fusing a honed sensibility for luxury ready-to-wear with a left-field esotericism – a very little-of-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach. This season, at the brand’s postponed Milan show, the remit of Jonathan’s object-driven approach expanded to sweaters with in-built snapped skateboards; striped pullovers draped slouchily across bike-handlebar ‘necklaces’, for want of a better description; boxy tees were pocked with peeled-open can-top slashes and reattached with door hinges. While the punchline of these wearable puns remained intentionally enigmatic – “Why?” a release read, “only the viewer can tell, and maybe there is no reason for that” – but they were reinforced by a sizable offer of clothes that did make clear sense. An intriguingly distressed intarsia sweater featuring allover distorted QR code motifs; sweaters and shoes featuring an “insolent” self-portrait of Rembrandt, the Dutch Old Master; trompe l’oeil jersey slip dresses with shorn-off denim jeans appliquéd to the top half; and, in what are sure to be instant best-sellers, glittery riffs on JW Anderson’s clamoured after bumper bags.
Opening the final day of Milan Fashion Week Men’s was one the city’s great stalwarts – Giorgio Armani. For his latest collection for the luxe menswear branch of his empire, he presented a collection that revelled in the house’s 90s signatures that archive-hungry Gen-Zers are now discovering anew – roomy, satin-y tailoring that conveys a more sensuous masculinity than much Italian suiting. Louche yet structured silhouettes came in stoney greiges and soft sky and Mediterranean blue, and worn with fine knit sweaters in poppy geometric patterns, while zings of eccentricity coloured royal purple jackets and silk shirts with delicate tree and giant logo prints.