Inside Milan Fashion Week
More skin, loose-fits and added elegance from Brioni, Prada, Fendi, Zegna and more.
“The softness puts the wearer in a good mood, and I want the clothes to bring out the personality, without overpowering the individual or shouting designer label,’” Brioni’s design director Norbert Stumpfl said about the spring collection, which was made with the most sophisticated materials. A trained tailor himself, Stumpfl highlighted the craftsmanship of Brioni’s artisans, who succeeded in creating a lineup that had a nonchalant and relaxed attitude, for men “who don’t spend too much time in front of the mirror.”
The designer underscored the importance of lightness, emphasized by the fabrics, which ranged from blends of linen, cashmere and silk to Sea Island cotton and double-layered knitwear crafted from Escorial wool, cashmere and silk blend. A trench in nubuck was treated to be water-resistant. Shapes were looser as the designer wants the Brioni man to be comfortable — and cool, too, hence the linen sleeves on a suede jacket, all finished by hand. A jacket was made from the same nylon used for women’s hosiery, which makes it extremely light, a quarter of the weight of a regular jacket, said the designer.
Stumpfl also created pyjama-style shirts and pants crafted from unused samples of silk necktie fabrics which are re-dyed, so that each piece is unique. Brioni’s eveningwear was stunning as the designer presented the Veronese jacket crafted from a brocade hand-woven on a late 19th-century jacquard loom, in a process that takes five months from start to finish. It’s clearly a garment for those in the know — and with deep pockets — as the floral embroideries are made with gold and silver threads, bumping up the retail price to 50,000 euros. Another showstopper was a dinner jacket in faille ombré silk carefully dyed by hand using 50 shades of black and greys with an iridescent effect in a “workintense” technique that Stumpfl said had “not been used since the times of Christian Lacroix and Roberto Capucci.” Further pointing to Brioni’s craftsmanship, the brand also introduced silver jewellery hammered by hand. — Luisa Zargani
Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons, intellectual designers both, have come up with a clever response to these turbulent times: simplicity, joy and the human touch. Their codesigned spring 2022 collection had a light spirit, and it felt honest and effortless, while still brimming with that edgy coolness that is quintessentially Prada. “The world is so complicated — so overcomplicated — we can lose the essence of human life,” Prada said in the notes sent to reviewers after the show. “This is an idea I have been interested in for a number of seasons, and which we have been exploring in different ways. We come from previous collections that were all about technicality, machines, that reflect the necessity of technology. Now, we are thinking of the opposite. Human, real. Our interest in technology came from its place as a communication tool for humanity. But this expression is much more direct.”
According to Prada, the collection was very much about portraying the joy of the everyday. “The notion that living your life can be a euphoric experience,” she continued. “Much joy can come out of something so simple: when times are complicated, we are searching for simple, direct joys. An innocence.” What’s more innocent than childhood? Cue the key item of the season, the romper, shown with rolled-up cuffs and presented in different variations, from solid options to printed designs, including a couple featuring irregular vertical stripes. The collection’s summer vibe was amplified by the video, which combined the concept of human artifacts and nature.
A red tunnel installed inside a warehouse at the Fondazione Prada in Milan, became a portal to the natural environment, leading to the sandy beaches and crystal clear water of Sardinia. “The show represents a transition — between a tunnel, an urban space and the sea. We don’t feel it should be complicated — the story is pure, direct. A move from indoors to outdoors. After constriction, the power of that feeling of infinity, an endless horizon. It gives you the feeling of freedom again. It’s human nature,” Simons said. “What we are interested in is: How can these two moments, these two environments, fuse together? A contrast between the system of the fashion industry — the runway — and nature.
We started in the previous autumn show to introduce these moments of different behaviour from the cast, and here, you see the models in another context, another environment, a different reality. You see them be totally free, in reality. It’s natural.” The collection fell somewhere between fashion utopia and everyday reality. Unfussy silhouettes were repeated across the lineup, adapting to the urban or beach environment. For example, the romper became a metropolitan uniform in a dark navy version styled with polished brogues, or exuded a carefree chic vibe when rendered in a white cotton printed with sea motifs, including anchors, and layered under a boat-neck sweater with crisscross details.
The precise outerwear, spanning from minimal trenches and car coats in joyful colours to leather jackets with a lived-in look, anchored the lineup in an elevated, everyday practicality. Elsewhere, tank tops with squared necklines were matched with relaxed pants, while charming hoodies in surfer prints were paired with rolled-up short pants. While Prada and Simons focused on simplicity and timelessness, there was plenty for hype beasts. The short shorts that resembled miniskirts, the bucket hats with the triangle pouch on the back brim, and the striped knits with a naif-like look were all items that will influence the season, at a both creative and commercial level. — Alessandra Turra
What can digital add to the experience of the physical show? Storytelling, according to Ermenegildo Zegna artistic director Alessandro Sartori. While the company expects to return to the live format in January, the designer thinks that digital will continue to play a key role to reach a wider audience and share the story behind the clothes. For Sartori, the pandemic didn’t only showcase the power of digital, but strongly accelerated a process of transformation in consumers’ approach to fashion. “I think we are going through a very exciting moment, where we are radically changing the way we design and sell the collections,” said Sartori.
While he thinks that classic formalwear will continue to be relevant in the luxury world of bespoke and customisation, ready-to-wear has to adopt to meet the new needs of today’s consumers. His spring 2022 collection pointed to a new path for the brand, and Sartori questioned the traditional idea of suiting. “The suit now becomes a combination of separates,” he said, explaining that the brand will now give retailers and consumers the chance to create their own suit combining pants with a range of matching tops. This new approach to suiting was the main theme of the beautiful video that the company created to present its latest collection.
Filmed in different locations across Italy, the video showed models running across a labyrinth in the huge park surrounding the castle of Masino in Piedmont and then they are suddenly catapulted into a more industrial space where they walk down the stairs of the new building of Milan’s IULM university. The distinctive architecture of the Monte Amiata housing complex in another Milanese district, which was built by Carlo Aymonino and Aldo Rossi in the late ‘60s, offered another impressive backdrop for the runway show that ended with a waterside dinner in the Rho Fiera area. Fashion-wise, the collection felt like an ode to comfortable elegance with a relevant cool factor.
Utility uniforms from the 1940s and 1950s served as starting point for the lineup’s overall spirit, merging urban sophistication with practical functionality. Baggy or slightly roomy pants were paired with boxy jackets with kimono sleeves. They featured a range of details, including straps and inside buttons to allow multiple fits. Over shirts, rendered in a wide selection of materials, from linen and stretch knit to supple leather, stood out, as did charming sweaters with 3D effects.
The overall sense of lightness and relaxed elegance was heightened by the delicate pastels, such as lilac and pistachio green, alongside refined neutrals, including tobacco brown, blue and military green. Softness and comfort also defined the accessories. Bags with multiple pockets were crafted from kangaroo leather, that was also used for padded chunky loafers and slip-ons with elastic inserts. With this collection, the Ermenegildo Zegna brand made a bold statement, in tune with the times and its legacy of textile experimentation and elegant dressing – Alessandra Turra.
In a world that necessarily got much smaller for all us, Silvia Venturini Fendi found inspiration in her work environment. “I strongly believe that what is close and familiar can be as much as inspiring as what is far and exotic,” she said during a preview on the set of the short movie by artist Nico Vascellari that portrays the Fendi’s men’s spring 2022 collection. Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana, that houses Fendi’s headquarters in Rome, served as the grand set for the video. It also offered Venturini Fendi the privileged point of observation on the Eternal City that deeply influenced the creation of her latest collection.
Looking at her native city from the top of the palazzo, one of the tallest buildings in Rome, she started thinking about proportions and perspectives, that, along with a study of the changing colours of the Roman sky across the different seasons, became the focal points of her beautiful lineup. While sticking to uncomplicated clothes that reflect the needs of the real life, the designer developed an exciting wardrobe that was luxurious, but also light and playful.
Colours played a key role. Neutrals were juxtaposed with lemon yellow, lime, ice blue, lilac, pistachio green and peony pink, sometimes mixed and matched on abstract patterns. A sense of adventure and exploration, combined with practical functionality, informed the lightweight, precise outerwear, the suede over shirts and the short pants featuring multiple patch pockets. Trenches dabbed with leather and jacquard denim jackets were roomy, while Fendi’s new, fun suit for the season featured pants and shorts with elastic waistbands matched with cropped double breasted boxy jackets.
They added a touch of fun and fashion frivolity to the collection, as did the adorable accessories, spanning from bags cut in the shape of bucket hats, Plexiglas mini Baguettes, table tennis rackets case holder and swimming goggles developed in collaboration with specialist Arena. Putting the accent on her top view, Venturini Fendi also splashed a range of pieces, including a languid silk pyjama set, with an archival maps of Rome, and abstract patterns inspired by the views of the globe from space. The short film depicted the models walking by the arches and on the rooftop of the Palazzo Della Civiltà Italiana hit by the light of the Roman sun at the different hours of the day and ends with the Fendi fashion parade taking over the facade of the palazzo at night. A woman designing for men, Silvia Venturini Fendi gave her clothes a practical romanticism and a graceful attitude. — Alessandra Turra
With his spring 2022 collection, Kean Etro paid tribute to the Italian musician and artist Franco Battiato, who died last month. For his lyrics, often containing culturally exotic, philosophical and religious references, Battiato was nicknamed Il Maestro, and he deeply influenced Etro’s own vision and life since their first meeting back in 1985. To the soundtrack of Battiato’s music, Etro’s men’s wear creative director unveiled the collection at Milan’s former railway station Scalo Farini — one of the three live shows in Milan this season. Models walked on the train tracks in the open air, which seemed to Etro “to have no beginning and no end,” surrounded by wildflowers, which all contributed to the sense of freedom and joy the collection telegraphed. The tracks were an additional reference to globetrotting — always an inspiration for the designer.
This time, Etro wanted to “explore the nomadic spirit.” (Incidentally, “Nomadi” is also a 1988 song written by Battiato.) To further convey the idea of wanderlust, the designer also cited travel writer Bruce Chatwin and Agatha Christie, not for her detective novels, but rather for her trips accompanying her husband, archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan, on his excavations in the Middle East. Etro’s inspiration, however, was not literal — no cargo pants or trekking shoes in sight. Instead, Etro’s collection was all about offhand fluidity and colours that transmit “energy and optimism.” To wit, the first part of the show hinged on modern suits, silk shirts and Bermuda shorts in bright orange, yellow, fuchsia and metallic green — at times tie-dyed.
Models paraded in silk cadi caftans, knitted vests with silk georgette inserts and fil coupé shirts lit up by golden threads. The brand’s unmistakable paisley prints alternated with archival patterns on silk pyjamas. Earthy colours infused the second part of the collection, on bombers and shirts embellished with patterns inspired by petroglyphs, or rock carvings, but these were not literal, either. “I wanted clean and graphic symbols, as if they were memories of the past,” Etro said. He paid attention to the accessories, too, ranging from colourful and functional pouches and cool sneakers to large and soft backpacks and saddlebags in washed leather. The collection had a rock ‘n roll vibe running throughout — after all, Etro has been dressing the winners of the Eurovision music contest, Italian rock band Måneskin. — L.Z.
Once again, Massimo Giorgetti proved that he understands youths and their codes like no other. For spring 2022, he channelled their desire for freedom in a poetic fashion film evoking the sun-drenched atmosphere in the photography of San Diego-based artist Stephen Milner. Cantered on a group of boys spending a day at the seaside, the short movie showcased a more contemplative mood compared to MSGM previous digital presentations. “I noticed there’s this desire to reveal the skin but not in a sexy way, rather more delicately, with romanticism,” Giorgetti explained. Connection with nature played a big role in the fun and spirited collection. Literally, the underwater theme — which charmed also Prada’s co-creative directors Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons this season — informed the bold prints splashed on the garments. An artisanal feel ran through a charming intarsia cardigan with shell motifs, a mohair sweater depicting a mermaid and structured sweatshirts handwoven using strips of recycled organic cotton. (Attention to recycled fibres and natural techniques was heightened throughout the range.) The ‘90s-inspired range included workwear jackets and cargo pants dyed naturally for a watercolour-like effect. Sharks motifs and prints of crabs and shells outlined with piercings popped up on knitwear, raw-cut hoodies and bowling shirts. Pastel tones with energizing orange and vibrant green gave everything a joyful zing. Sport references, including wetsuit tops and leggings, nodded to the Californian surf scene portrayed in Milner’s images and punctuated another fresh and cool collection from MSGM. — Sandra Salibian
Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi can’t wait to return to a physical show, but once again found a way to present his collection with a video that in sync with his sensibility and the brand spirit. He chose to portray an eclectic and diverse group of young men — actors Saul Nanni and Meledeen Yacoubi, musician Lorenzo Sutto, singer Theo Isambourg and model Yonghong — enjoying a day in the sun at the Petra vineyard in Suvereto, Tuscany. The striking and avant-garde design of the building by Swiss architect Mario Botta is a recognizable landmark in the country and Chiapponi said he was seeking “a place immersed in nature with a modern architecture.” That it is, with its sectioned cylinder in pink travertine and a stairway running the height of the hill in the Maremma countryside.
Inspired by the adventurous images of artist Peter Beard, Chiapponi delivered a collection that was more nonchalant than usual, with a touch of sensuality. Chiapponi made a statement with the new canvas Jack Biker jacket with leather gommino pads — the brand’s signature pebble motif — as patches on the elbows. Developing an urban safari theme, the designer offered canvas shirts or field jackets worn over Bermuda shorts; quilted jackets; nylon shorts; suede hoodies and a shirt jacket with contrasting patch pockets in leather — a signature material for Tod’s.
There were trenchcoats in light nylon in bright hues and soft chambray trousers. Chiapponi mixed different checkered patterns on cotton gauze shirts and jackets. All garments were light and deconstructed as the practical pants in parachute canvas with drawstrings at the ankle. With John F. Kennedy Jr. as another inspiration, it’s obvious that Chiapponi never strays from elegant and sophisticated designs, even when he veers toward more casual looks. Accessories, always key for Tod’s, were strong, ranging from the new Dots Run sneakers in nylon and leather in contrasting colours with expanded gomminos on the soles, to camera bags and soft, ruched moccasins. An expanded lion head appeared on several items as a crest. — Luisa Zargani
Brunello Cucinelli’s take on things is generally an upbeat and optimistic one. This was once again the case on Saturday, when he spoke of rebirth after the pandemic, which is leading men to rediscover a taste for elegance and dressing well. As a consequence, at the physical presentation at Cucinelli’s headquarters in Milan, there was a strong focus on the suit, “synonymous of elegance, but not the Wall Street kind of business suit” of yore. The fit must be “relaxed and contemporary,” he noted. Case in point, the traditional pinstriped suit was revisited with more understated, almost faded patterns; deconstructed jackets, and feather-light natural fabrics.
The fabrics were also practical, such as Tasmanian wool, which allows for high performance without wrinkling, he noted. Blends of linen, wool and silk contributed to the summery ease of the suits. Cuffed ankle pants with front pleats were slightly longer than in previous styles. Adding a sportier touch, Cucinelli showed cargo pants, either short — Bermuda style — or elasticized at the ankle. Mismatched blazers also contributed to the easy style as did the range of soft unlined suede bombers, which were also presented with lasered chevron patterns or quilting motifs. The palette was neutral, with delicate pastels, from yellows, pinks to azure, alternated with a range of greys, off-white and panama or sand. Jeans were shown in the traditional indigo hue — among the bestselling pants for the company, Cucinelli said. “Simplicity in Elegance,” summed up the brand’s look book, but the former at Cucinelli is achieved through skilled craftsmanship and extensive research and development of fabrics. — L.Z.
A fuchsia suit worn with a plain white T-shirt was unexpected but stood out in its simplicity in the Canali spring 2022 collection, which was filled with relaxed silhouettes and lightweight fabrics. The Italian brand showcased the Canali 1934, Exclusive and Black Edition lines, underscoring to the label’s versatility in catering different customers and demands beyond its roots in tailoring. “The pandemic accelerated a trend that was already present: The need to break the rigid schemes that separate formalwear from the informal one.
Fusing these two dimensions enables customers to easily mix and match the pieces,” said the company’s president and chief executive officer Stefano Canali, explaining that, overall, the collection was inspired by the natural landscape in Los Angeles and 1990s cinema. Neutral tones dominated the Canali 1934 line, which focused on reinterpretations of the trucker jacket — including a white denim version with geometric tobacco suede pockets and a chic aquamarine suede option — as well as on knitwear, often styled with pleated pants. The laid-back attitude took a bolder turn in the Black Edition line, with vibrant suits and a bowling shirt splashed with floral prints.
Sportier garments such as a black anorak and a hooded jacket with black and-white graffiti graphics veered toward a more functional and urban direction that was a stretch compared to the rest of the collection. Although these two lines made for eye-catching items, the Exclusive section best exemplified the Canali ethos and the effortless mood it wanted to convey this season, thanks to pieces such as a taupe buckskin blazer and a green suede jacket with details in napa leather. Among the three souls of the collection, this was definitely the most authentic and truthful to the brand’s signature elegance. — Sandra Salibian
Originally published by WWD.