(From left: Burberry, Dolce & Gabbana & Jil Sander)
Menswear kicked off yesterday for the spring/summer 2012 season in Milan, and day one was filled with such strong looks inspired from rockers to the artisanal. Corneliani opened the season playing around with a desert traveller inspiration, which followed into a more refreshing collection from Ermenegildo Zegna that played on a softer element to a similar concept. Onto a more rockier vibe, as Ennio Capasa delved into a rockabilly element for his latest collection for Costume National, refiguring the look of the casual suit with collars replaced on shirts and given a lapel. As always, John Varvatos kept to his rock n roll signature, this time been inspired by seventies iconic bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who and Led Zepplin, and Neil Barrett toned down the futurism & upped the neo-punk cool to deliver yet another successful collection with his signature fresh-proportioned piecs. Sadly Dolce & Gabbana seemed to be the once collection that fell flat from its usual strong appeal, as Domenico & Stefano used meshing as their main source to create a range of suits & sportswear looks.
(From left: John Varvatos, Neil Barrett, Ermenegildo Zegna, Costume National & Corneliani)
Of the numerous collections showcased through the day, three stood out from the rest- Raf Simon's looks for Jil Sander, Christopher Bailey's boys at Burberry Prorsum and Umit Benan's designs, the new menswear force to emerge in recent years.
Inspired by artist Mark Leckey's infamous video 'Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore', which explores the underground club culture of Britain in the eighties & nineties, Simons delivered a darker vision incorporating a stronger gothic/futuristic element to his clothes that I have not seen from Simons before. There were suits with highwaisted shorts, shirts with tabbed collars showing over black jersey sweaters, python iPad cases strapped around the chests, multi-coloured knitted sweaters that from a distance looked like static, clear PVC jackets, black pinstriped PVC coats and three-buttoned sport jackets given a boxier silhouette in a triacetate-looking material. Like Lecky's work, Simons' collection challenges a similar void, where the uninhibited are simply misunderstood & embracing new cultural influences in our society. Maybe it's time to embrace a new aethetic to the way we dress, otherwise we are simply dull.
Christopher Bailey always seems to be at the top of his game when it comes to creating the 'It' coat of the season, and if he has his way it's going to be a parka. The parka is back in demand, which was first highlighted in the fall collections from Joseph Altuzarra. Bailey's jackets were given a more artisan vibe- a little tribal & a little south-west American. The parkas Bailey wants us to wear are a little more frumpy, but in a good way like the coveted shearlings of eighteen months ago. I for one love a good parka and I love these ones, especially the cropped version. Though the message Bailey wants to reflect from his designs is not so visual, its more ideological- taking a step back from fast-paced attitude the industry is building itself around. Bailey would know a lot about fast fashion, with his direct-demand scheme of buying the clothes immediately after the show been a huge success for the company. These clothes a pretty-darn good looking, even I wouldn't mind wearing one of those raffia bobble caps and the ikat print shoes.
I'm a huge fan of Umit Benan. His clothes are unique, practical and cool. All eyes are on this young designer, having made his mark on the industry in just a few years proving to be the main force in menswear to be reckoned with. As of last week, Benan was named the new creative consultant for legendary fashion house of Trussardi. Big shoes to fill, that I can only imagine he'll suceed at. Onto the collection, and after are similar eighties inspiration last season, the designer moved away from the wall street Bateman-esque character to focus on a legendary fashion figure of the decade, Nino Cerruti. Cerruit's suits had that détendu touch to them- loose shirts, wide pants and over-sized jackets. Benan's take on the Cerruti suit ranged from pinstripe blue, all-white, geometric red print and denim-on-lemon. Each look had it's own character, as Benan wanted the collection to be like a bunch of Cerruti's grandsons sitting down to a Saturday afternoon lunch in their grandad's vintage-cool-feeling pieces. If this is what Benan has to say for his own line, I cannot wait to see what he produces for Trussardi the next day. His clothes are not about creating a theme, their about fitting a lifestyle.