International Herald Tribune
A fusion of sport and formal
Byline: SUZY MENKES
Section: SPECIAL REPORT
Men's wear designers in Milan are doing a good job of blending sportswear and the sartorial.
With a swing toward tailoring, sportswear is having to fight for its premium position. And designers are making a good job in this Milan men's wear season of blending the sporty and the sartorial.
'New York -- it's my city,' said Italo Zucchelli, the Italian- born designer at Calvin Klein who gave his winter 2012 show a downtown energy.
Although high-tech fabrics have been a driving force in Mr. Zucchelli's 21st-century take on men's fashion, this show was rooted in everyday sportswear -- but that was upscale enough to add alligator sleeves to a wool bomber jacket and configure a mighty overcoat in mohair.
Unlike most Milan runways, the show did not focus on tailored suits, although a few skinny shapes drew the enthusiasm of the musician Joe Jonas, sitting front row. But after seeing the sartorial side of male dressing swamping Milan, it was good to have a reality check.
Mr. Zucchelli played with an oversized camel coat, with bold duffels and even with a nylon parka, patterned like a twinkling New York skyscape. But his focus on the modern man was as grounded as the thick-soled shoes.
'It's for the new gentleman -- urbanites, after the explosion of jeans and sneakers,' said Paul Surridge, the new designer at Z Zegna, speaking alternatively in his native English and fluent Italian learned through a fashion trajectory from Prada to Jil Sander.
The identifying detail of this 'smarten-up!' collection was displayed on the backdrop: metallic copper that was used in zippers on parkas, on belt buckles and on a spiffy iPad case. While the previous Z Zegna look had researched inventive fabrics to mix with classics, this show had some strong statements about silhouette: egg- shaped for coats, slim-line for suits and a taut vest recalling formal wear in the 1950s.
Mr. Surridge also played with masculine color, bringing blue, brown and green to the palette. A use of hoods with formal jackets was a smart hybrid approach. Yet there was a sense that he was -- perhaps wisely -- feeling his way. From this good starting point, he needs to define the line with more than copper as the Z Zegna accent.
With 9,000 miniature racing cars lined up on the floor of a palazzo and with sponsor patches on puffer jumpsuits, Moncler Gamme Bleu had come down from the mountains and on to the racetrack.
Previously, the embrace of different sports, from swimming through fencing, had been reinforced by the venue. This Formula One show was more workmanlike: a descriptive narration of the outfits, as in old fashioned couture shows.
What was lost in performance was gained in up-close detail. The designer Thom Browne has an exceptional ability to play with the Moncler down, this season with various detachable parts.
The problem is that with a copycat puffa jacket in every other Milan mark-down window, even with sharp tailored pieces, varied shorts, trench coats and capes, how can Moncler move the concept as fast forward as a racing car?
Trussardi's leather heritage was taken back to the 1970s by the designer Umit Benan, who produced a cast of often hirsute characters toting bags. In their wide lapel suits, sporty leather jackets, fur- collared coats and cardigans, they looked like characters drawn from the fast-track crowd on the video screen backdrops.
Mr. Benan has a kooky signature that he melded with Trussardi leather pieces like gloves and tote bags. But whether a fashion style can be defined for this leather brand remains to be seen.
Keywords: Fashion and Apparel (Des)
Copyright International Herald Tribune Jan 17, 2012