Jan 19, 2010
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Milan menswear plays up comfort, understated chic

Jan 19, 2010

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

MILAN (Reuters) - Designers at Milan menswear fashion week opted for comfortable and practical chic for next winter, preferring to tread a sensible path away from sharp suits and flash to woo buyers hit by the credit crunch.

Italian menswear fashion has not been spared by the global financial crisis, with sales -- particularly of suits and ties -- hit hard. An industry body estimates that turnover in the sector fell nearly 10 percent in 2009 to 8.3 billion euros ($11.87 billion).

In the hope that the sector will pick up again this year, many brands showing at Milan's autumn/winter 2010/2011 fashion week which ended on Tuesday 19 January sought to underscore the message of value and heritage in what they proposed.

Taking inspiration from Italian film "Baaria" designer team Dolce & Gabbana kicked off the action with a tribute to Sicily -- also designer Domenico Dolce's birthplace. They dressed their models in a worker's look -- shirts were tucked into jeans or black trousers, accessorised with caps and heavy, dusty boots.

Boots were omnipresent at the shows, with slim trousers often tucked into boots that came up to the calf or knee.

Giorgio Armani liberated his man from "any trace of commercialization that has taken over the world of fashion" with a futuristic romantic look -- chunky pullovers were worn with fitted jackets and trousers, teamed with black berets, glasses and gaiters. He had velvet jackets and trousers for the evening.

Britain's Burberry saluted its outerwear heritage and played with the military style -- in shirts and in jackets with gilded buttons on cuffs and shoulders. Footwear focused on commando-style boots, also seen at Emporio Armani, Bottega Veneta and Ferre.

"You just have to stay true to yourself ... Everything is about being thoughtful ... and doing things well," Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey told Reuters. "There is no time for flippant fashion, flippant design, flippant attitude."

Somber Color PALETTE

Never one to follow the trend, Miuccia Prada teamed blazers with cropped sweaters above the waist that revealed blue shirts, worn with high-waisted trousers and tasselled loafers.

Her jackets and coats brimmed with colorful puzzle and camouflage prints.

Gucci promoted a sporty elegance -- silk turtlenecks were worn with slim-fitting jackets over equestrian-inspired slim trousers that were cropped at a naked ankle, worn with traditional Gucci loafers.

Winter-lodge style knits completed the season's look, also seen at Dolce and Stefano Gabbana's D&G line -- reindeer-printed knits were worn over ski and snowboard pants tucked into comfy-looking boots, accessorised with fur hats and goggles.

The mountain look was also seen at Belgian designer Dirk Bikkembergs, with huge jackets worn over luxury tracksuit pants.

"(The man I dress) gets older every year ... I have to give him something that he needs to add to what he has already," he told Reuters. "I don't like this feeling like 'I throw away everything in my wardrobe', my man doesn't do that."

There was a harder attitude at Versace, where rock and roll met sci-fi for a collection of body-emphasizing jackets, shiny tight trousers, chain-metal tops, biker boots and big rings.

Roberto Cavalli sent out his models in trousers made in woven leather, sequin-studded T-shirts and tailored jackets.

Overall, the color palette was mostly somber -- black, white and lots of grey -- a key color at Emporio Armani.

The palette was also dark at Bottega Veneta with odd flashes of color in evening jackets worn with ankle-length black trousers over white socks. Jackets were sporty and jeans were rolled over motorbike-style boots.

Accessories featured heavily -- from scarves to lightweight bags to string ties and cowboy-style buckles at the neck.

(Editing by Paul Casciato)

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