By Monday's fourth and final day of Milan Fashion Week menswear previews for next spring and summer, designers seemed to have understood the assignment.
Looks appeared more weather-appropriate than on the weekend, as soaring temperatures provided a reminder that warm-weather dressing can mean covered, but in a relaxed way that accommodates elegance and playfulness.
Highlights from Monday's shows:
Giorgio Armani Defends Elegance
Against the onslaught of streetwear and dressing down, Giorgio Armani is defending elegance in all seasons.
The 87-year-old designer's Spring-Summer 2023 collection mixes classics with more unusual iterations, as the fashion world demands. Proffering elegance is increasingly a lonely job.
"I don't know when we will feel the loss of the man who moves through life with this refinement,'' the designer said after the show.
For his main line, Armani focused on casual, relaxed suits, for day or evening. There was movement in the loose trousers and jackets, but also in the graphic repeating prints that create the effect of waves. Print-on-print looks are insistently modern.
"It is true that it is nice to see a man dressed well in a suit. But it is also nice to see the evolution of fashion. Bring on the basics, I have always done them in my life. It is also true that (the market) demands novelty,'' Armani said.
On that front, Armani created tunic-length tops. Jackets and shirts have a sheen rarely seen in menswear. A well-tied foulard substitutes a shirt under an open jacket. A scarf creates a sweeping effect on top of a white suit.
The color palette was rooted in the seaside white and navy combo, melting into shimmering shades of blue and gray before exploding into combinations of purple, pink and seafoam green.
The shoe of the season is an unfussy espadrille, substituting the sneaker of recent seasons, and which Armani himself wore, showing them off with an ironic laugh. Caps had no brim, all the better to show off the face.
"Acceptable. Credible. More assured,'' Armani said summing up the collection.
Gucci Unveils Hahaha Collection
Alessandro Michele teamed up with Harry Styles for a between-season collection that infuses tailoring with adolescent freedom. The collection is titled "HaHaHa," tapping a sense of joy and also the expression of their initials: Harry and Alessandro.
"In truth, it was easier for him to play with me to create clothes, than for me to sing with him,'' Michele joked with reporters at a preview for the collection inside a Milan vintage store.
Harry Styles was just embarking on his solo career when Michele exploded into the fashion world proposing what was a new era of gender-fluid dressing, looks that immediately appealed to Styles. Michele said the singer incorporated one of his debut pieces as Gucci's creative director into his wardrobe as he was breaking out from "One Direction."
The relationship has grown over the years and takes flight in frequent exchanges of fashion inspiration over WhatsApp.
"At times, WhatsApp becomes a mood board,'' Michele said. Though two decades apart in age, the two have found common ground in fashion: Michele says Styles restored a sort of adolescent glee, while Styles has matured into more tailored looks. The dual influences are present in the new collection.
The pair created a series of endearing block prints against gingham, featuring the collection's mascot, a grumpy teddy bear, as well as a munching squirrel, and a sheep and cherry combination. Gucci styles tailored suit jackets from the prints, and paired them with colorful, wide-legged trousers or distressed jeans. The prints are repeated on pajamas, while patches inject whimsy onto knitwear or a ribbed white tank. Accessories include an updated Jackie Bag covered with grommets.
Mixed on the racks of the vintage store, the Gucci HaHaHa collection was often hard to distinguish from the stock.
"It is a great compliment to me that it is confused with vintage,'' Michele said. "Vintage means well-made."
Joeone Perfects The Summer Trousers
French designer Louis-Gabriele Nouchi understood the assignment for warm-weather dressing, creating easy to wear yet distinctive summer looks for Chinese brand Joeone built around trousers.
Nouchi's designs combined Chinese draping with athletic hiking pants, including piping and secret utility pockets.
A print of the Chinese landscape "A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains" by Wang Ximeng, featuring bold brush strokes of blue, green and ochre, created the season's motif. Details from the painting appeared as a graphic print on a pair of wide-legged trousers, but also in patterns more subtly printed on jeans.
Shirtless models strode around the sunny courtyard of Milan's Sforzesco castle, the bare torso displaying how the trousers rested perfectly on the waist.
"You have to wear the clothes to see the comfort. Pants are the most difficult piece to do in the men's wardrobe to be honest,'' Nouchi said. "They have to be functional, they have to be comfortable. They really give you the tone of the silhouette, I feel, more than the jacket.''
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