Menswear shelves formal looks for good at Milan Fashion Week
Absent-minded fashionistas who, having missed the last few seasons, were to have found themselves suddenly at the Milan men's Fashion Week, would surely have been baffled. In the course of less than two years, menswear has changed completely, jettisoning classic gentlemen's outfits in favour of a sporty, functional wardrobe. The Men's Fashion Week showcasing the Autumn/Winter 2018-19 collections which ended on Monday in Milan has well and truly packed away formal suits in the closet.
Three major trends explain at least partly this shift: the changing attitude of the younger generations, who no longer want to dress like their grandfathers, and are chiefly keen on comfort; the fashion labels' headlong rush to attract Millennials, for whom clothes are no longer an outward indicator of wealth; and finally the economic crisis, still troubling the market and orienting purchases towards basic sportswear items. As several fashion professionals whispered to us, "what sells right now is only sweaters, t-shirts and sneakers."
No wonder then that, in this state of affairs, formal suits have been dropped from men's collections. In fact, except for Ermenegildo Zegna and Pal Zileri, all of the top Italian labels specialised in formal wear, from Corneliani to Canali and Brioni, have given the Milanese catwalks a miss this season. And the nylon outerwear collection presented on Sunday by Miuccia Prada is a crystal-clear indication of the upheaval in menswear.
Milano Moda Uomo was also heavily penalised by the profound changes taking place in the world of fashion during the last year or so, between withdrawals, new show formats, whether mixed-gender or virtual, postponements to the women's weeks and moves to other international fashion capitals. Last season, the Milan Fashion Week's calendar was cut short by one day, losing its traditional Tuesday finale, and it was further trimmed down this winter, featuring 30 shows as opposed to 32 last June and 36 last year.
"It's true that this week was rather brief, and really very intense. Yet, over the three days, we managed to provide a full range of different emotions, giving labels the opportunity to choose the type of presentation or event that best suited them. This kind of freedom and diversity is the truest representation of the world we are living in," said the President of the Italian Fashion Chamber (CNMI), Carlo Capasa.
More than the catwalks, it was actually some of the presentations which made an impression. Etro for example arranged its set to look like an auction house's warehouse where, amidst paintings and antique furniture, models, buyers, journalists and even the public which had been exceptionally invited to the event roamed around freely.
Also memorable was the night-long party organised by Rick Owens in the via Ventura design district. Another unique initiative was the Dolce & Gabbana show, staged by the Italian luxury label inside the Rinascente department store, also a big hit with the general public. Dolce & Gabbana really went for it this fashion week, having also organised a traditional catwalk event the day before, and another exclusive show the same evening.
The unusual venues chosen by some labels were particularly appreciated, such as Bocconi University, home to the Ermenegildo Zegna show, or the warehouse of its own Foundation, picked by Prada. "Nowadays, being creative means doing things differently from others. Many brands have understood this, and have revolutionized their habits, choosing new venues for their shows or new presentation formats, and especially shrouding their events in an aura of mystery," said Beppe Angiolini, owner of the Sugar multibrand store in Arezzo, Tuscany.
Emerging designers were particularly adept at this game, and managed to attract large audiences to their shows. "It was one of the season’s most remarkable features. Young designers' shows, which journalists and buyers usually shun, instead attracted unexpected crowds and featured a surplus of quality," said Carlo Capasa.
GCDS staged a Snow White-themed show/performance at the Manzoni theatre, including a distribution of red caramelised apples, to a capacity audience. The Sunnei show was a triumph too, managing to lure the major magazines' fashion editors away from the city centre, to the stunning showroom-warehouse of Milanese design gallery Nilufar.
The Palm Angels show was also very successful, the standing audience packed shoulder-to-shoulder in a basement venue. The majority of these emerging labels have strong links with pop music, and staged uber-popular after-show parties, bringing fresh energy to the Milan Fashion Week.
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