from milan to orlando
On the first evening of men’s shows in Milan, Dsquared² and Ports 1961 paid tribute to the victims of the Orlando shooting, and to a gay community so invaluable to fashion.
Fashion feels the best when it's actively reflecting and impacting the world around it. And so the men's fashion hordes descended upon Milan on Friday evening to a commemorative Prince finale soundtrack at Ports 1961, and an encouraging statement for the gay community - still feeling the after-quakes of the Orlando killings - at Dsquared². Going to the shows for weeks on end, we often refer to the 'fashion bubble': that travelling state of mind when it's all too easy to get caught up in the fashion circus laid out on daily back-to-back schedules before you and not keep in touch with what's going on in the real world. It's fantasy vs. reality, but the truth is there's no such thing as the fashion bubble.
Everything that happens here is a manifestation of something far more important than clothes and accessories, which is why the fashion weeks - currently the hot topic of a debate on whether to merge them all into co-ed calendars, or get rid of some of them altogether - are as relevant as ever. Dsquared² gay twins Dean and Dan Caten gave it up for the gay clubs of the world with ripped jeans, flared trousers, bare torsos and shimmering platform boots, a powerful celebration of the universal, international dance floors that have always been sanctuaries to the gay community. When they came out hand-in-hand for their usual strut 'n' bow down the runway, they both wore thigh-high platform boots and rainbow flag ribbons around their necks. It was a big gesture on the small stage provided by fashion for its designers to make a difference, and on the first night of the men's shows in Milan, Dsquared² couldn't have used their platforms better.
At Ports 1961, Milan Vukmirovic did his part, too. "What can designers do to defend us in troubled times like this," the show notes opened, reminding fashion that this industry has always been a part of the gay community's "us". Vukmirovic tackled that most tackled of loaded symbols in fashion, the uniform, changing its aggressive connotations to positive with flower motifs and delicate embroidery. One top simply featured the slogan "#LOVE", and while fashion was never afraid to show its teeth, even in this industry that's what it's all about: love.
Text Anders Christian Madsen
Photography Mitchell Sams